David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa are undertaking a consultancy for UNICEF New York to explore the peacebuilding potential of child-friendly theory and practice in conflict-affected contexts. Their specific brief is to assist the UNICEF Peacebuilding Education and Advocacy Program (PBEA) in assessing whether and in what ways the UNICEF child-friendly school (CFS) program can contribute to developing an ethic of democratic participation in youth as well as harmonious relationships at the intra-psychic, interpersonal and intergroup level. The consultancy has two interrelated elements. The first review element involves:
- Identifying CFS components and processes that are already peacebuilding relevant (although they may not be characterized as such by those who practice and promote them) as well as components and elements that could be transformed into peacebuilding relevant interventions;
- Identifying gaps in CFS programs that need to be closed to make the CFS program more peacebuilding relevant;
- Exploring the potential and limitations of the CFS model for contributing to the development of pro-social competencies in children as well as fostering young peoples’ ‘endorsement and emulation of democratic values, constructive patriotism, moral courage, active bystandership, active participation, independent reasoning, socially-responsible leadership;’
- Identifying risks and vulnerabilities that might render child-friendly schools more conflict-insensitive or subject to misuse and abuse.
The good practice element involves:
- Collecting noteworthy, effective and low-cost peacebuilding practice in both CFS and other schools primarily in developing countries for sharing with PBEA country offices that have included child-friendly school activities in their work;
- Proposing user-friendly ways in which country offices could evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of ‘good practice education for peacebuilding interventions’;
Special attention is to be paid throughout to quality democratic participation and its links to peacebuilding.
Conflict-affected contexts within the PBEA program include: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, State of Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan and Myanmar.
The final consultancy outcome will be a report summarizing the CFS contribution to peacebuilding, documenting good practice, and recommending strategies for making CFS more peacebuilding relevant.