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Religion and Peacebuilding - Assignment

population. In short,

population. In short, the haredi population's beliefs and moral code were ignored in the rush to disseminate liberal, secular moral principles. Gopin's criticism of this approach is a valid one. If one wishes to build a Strong Peace, one cannot disregard the sensibilities of one part of the community while privileging another part and expect a positive outcome. 2. In the case of Afghanistan, while some “softer” clerics were integrated into the Ministry of Education post-2001, many of the teachers coming back to the profession during that period had originally been teachers in the 70s and 80s and were happy to support central government's drive to reduce religious education in schools. Many of the madrassas, which in rural areas had been the mainstay of education in local communities, disappeared altogether. Arguably, the US wish to secularise education in the middle-east highlighted in by Shirazi (Shirazi:2008:224-225), with the view to stabilising the region and, simultaneously, encouraging a Western-centric moral code based on democracy and security, influenced the leaders of post-2001 Afghan regime. As a result, in the initial period, religious education was comparatively side-lined. Given the volatility of a country that had been in a state of civil war for decades, we cannot with any accuracy predict what would have happened had local religious educators been incorporated more fully into the transition, but there is sufficient evidence to make a reasonable guess that it would have improved the situation and, arguably, may even have had a conflict-dampening effect. 3. In Northern Ireland, although it could be said that there was a top-down imposition of curriculum subjects based around mutual respect and reconciliation, the integrationist movement came from parents and religious actors in the communities themselves – in other words, a grass-roots movement. Local actors were instrumental in pushing for integrated schooling. Coming back to Appleby's vision, set out at the start of this essay, of harnassing local religious actors and developing them to teach the peaceful message at the core of their religious beliefs as a way of healing broken societies, had that principle been considered in either the Israeli or the Afghan examples, there is evidence to suggest that it could have had an effect in building a Strong 12

Peace. In the case of Afghanistan, in particular, one cannot help but wonder whether, being painfully aware that their involvement in the 70s and 80s had “created a monster”, the US government saw a soft, multi-tiered approach which would have included engaging with local religious actors as too onerous and frightening a task. As Shirazi commented: “..the place of Islamic education has remained a difficult topic to address and has produced debate on whether the United States supports Islamic education in Afghanistan at all.” (Shirazi:2008:227). Conclusion: The Role of Religious Education within the 4Rs Framework As Novelli et al. state, there are tensions between the global agenda for NGOs such as UNICEF and other international state and non-state actors and their policies and strategies versus what is needed on the ground in a conflict/post-conflict community resulting in local needs being sidelined. (Novelli et al.:2015:7). Going back to their table at page 16, (attached) the following observations are important: ▪ ▪ ▪ Under “recognition”, the role of religious identity in the education system is taken into account. Citizenship and civic education as a means of state-building is also considered. Religious education as a means of state-building could act in parallel to citizenship and civic education in nurturing positive education, through the criteria set out in Fig 1 (above). Under “representation”, again, religious education is absent when it could be deployed in a positive way. It is notable that the extent to which the education system supports “fundamental freedoms” is highlighted, however. How those “freedoms” are defined could arguably give rise to the type of tensions created in the Israeli example, where a section of the community feels aggrieved at the “clash of moral codes”. Co-opting religious actors into the education process would go some way to addressing this problem. Finally, in the category of “reconciliation”, religious education is, arguably, vital in determining how historic and contemporary injustices are addressed, social cohesion, and teaching about the past and its relevance to the present and future – the ideal opportunity to put in to practice Appleby's vision of changing the religious 13

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