Peace Education in Multicultural Schools: An Action Research Approach

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One of the greatest challenges facing the post-apartheid South African state is the transformation of the education system. Scholars and practitioners have warned that conflict and violence poses a serious threat to our goal of establishing peace, democracy and economic progress in South Africa. The move to multicultural schooling has created an urgent need to address what schools can or should do about the diverse cultural realities which are often the source of covert and overt conflict. Both government and educational practitioners have stressed the need to equip teachers and learners and with the values, attitudes, knowledge and skills to understand and manage diversity and conflict in a constructive fashion.

Betty Reardon (1997: v), the renowned peace educator, states that "the failure to achieve peace is in essence a failure of the imagination". It is essential that we move beyond our current approaches and develop new methods and ways of thinking aand foster creative innovation in managing conflict constructively.

One of the central debates in the peace education literature is the need to link conflict management practice and the theories about conflict. The action research approach has obvious benefits because it promotes the relationship between theory and practice, where theory finds its support in practice and practice is informed by theory. Action research is context bound, addresses real-life problems and aims to improve social conditions in a systematic and collaborative way. Conflict management interventions and training like action research, strive to have a positive impact on the social setting and conditions in which these practices take place. Thus most research on conflict management interventions and training, which seeks to manage conflict in a constructive way, is a form of action research. This paper will explore how the key elements of the action research approach can be incorporated into peace education and training in multicultural schools.


Keywords: Diversity, multicultural Schools, Peace Education, Conflict Management
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Peace Education in Multicultural Schools,


Dr. Lyn Snodgrass

Political Leader for Masters Programme (Conflict Transformation and Management), Political and Governmental Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Lyn is the Programme Leader for the Masters Programme in Conflict Transformation and Management at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). This programme is the first of its kind in South Africa and draws students from Africa as well as the rest of the world. Lyn is also working on conflict management systems in various communities in the Nelson Mandela Metropole. She has degrees in Organizational and Industrial Psychology and an MA in Conflict Resolution. Her doctoral research investigated an approach to conflict management and peace education in multicultural settings using strategies which embed the relevant cultural understanding and sensitivity into the training programme.

Ref: L09P1344