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Education, Violence, and Radicalisation in post-2001 Afghanistan: A political economy analysis

Sahar, Arif; (2021) Education, Violence, and Radicalisation in post-2001 Afghanistan: A political economy analysis. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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In conflict-affected societies, educational development is often affected by the struggles waged by competing actors over power and resources. In this process, legacies of violence and ongoing political contestations dominate the debate about educational reforms, discourses, and structures. This study is a political economy analysis of education in conflict-affected Afghanistan. The study examines the ways in which the political economy outcomes—violence, weak governance, and radicalisation—have impacted upon educational reconstruction since the US military invasion in 2001. The politics of educational reconstruction, discourses, and structures in the post-2001 Afghanistan have been influenced by complex struggles for power. A political economy analysis helps develop insights into how these power relations are formed and sustained, and the way they influence education. The study critically assesses how state, non-state, and anti-state actors exploit education for ideological and political purposes amid growing state fragility. The study shows that education is trapped in a nexus of power struggles amongst various actors. The research was carried out deploying a Critical Political Economy approach across eight geopolitical districts in four provinces of Afghanistan, including Kabul (capital), Nangarhar (southeast), Balkh (north) and Bamyan (centre). The data were collected primarily over two phases—autumn-winter 2016 and summer 2018—through the use of ethnographically-informed methods, including semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions involving policymakers, politicians, community leaders, international development partners, teachers, parents, and education officials. The study reveals three key findings: Firstly, the ongoing conflict adversely impacts on educational reforms by fuelling political contestations between state and non-state actors and reproducing inequalities across ethno-regional and cultural groups. The growing politicisation of education hence reinforces structural inequalities and injustices rather than disrupting existing discriminatory political structures. Secondly, state fragility and ongoing conflict have turned education into an ideological battleground in which different state and non-state actors compete for domination of the education system. Hence, education remains a space of contention between the Afghan state and extremist groups, including the Taliban, that influence policies, recruitment of teachers, decisions about curricular reforms, and shape education in such a way that encourages young people to resist Western liberal values. Thirdly, the study reveals that despite the adverse impacts of conflict, local communities mobilise their agency and resources to attempt to sustain education by navigating security and political constraints and negotiating and compromising with conflicting parties. The study makes significant contributions to the debates about educational development in conflict-affected contexts by revealing some of the contested outcomes in education that do not necessarily support sustainable peace. It destabilises the orthodox narrative that is often advanced by national governments and international partners in conflict affected contexts that educational progress around increased access inherently serves social transformations and social justice. In particular, the study reveals the complexity of the social and cultural diversity and the problematic role of education in (re)producing and perpetuating ethnic, cultural, and regional inequalities. Hence, it is argued that educational reconstruction must be underpinned by principles of social justice which is fair and just distribution of wealth, opportunities, and social privileges that promote equity and pluralism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Education, Violence, and Radicalisation in post-2001 Afghanistan: A political economy analysis
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129019
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