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Educação & Sociedade

Print version ISSN 0101-7330

Educ. Soc. vol.34 no.123 Campinas Apr./June 2013 



The merging of security and development in the education sector: discourses and effects



Mario Novelli

Senior Lecturer in International Education and deputy director of the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex (United Kingdom). E-mail:




The article explores the merging of security and development policies by western development agencies operating in conflict affected states, and its broad effects on the education sector. The article explores the way education has become increasingly intertwined with post 9/11 security discourses and traces the history, rationales and outcomes of this shift. The article also explores the multiple and competing discourses of a range of actors engaging with education in conflict affected states, demonstrating the way a ‘common sense’ discourse linking development to security masks deep divisions amongst key actors. This is then followed by a reflection on the contradictory nature of development assistance and presents some examples of the way aid to education was used during the Cold War for military rather than development purposes. Finally the article ends with a call for more research and critique on this important issue.

Key words: Education. International cooperation. Conflict. Counterinsurgency.



Introduction: The Merging of Security and Development & the Education Sector

As I speak, just as surely as our diplomats and military, American NGOs are out there serving and sacrificing on the front lines of freedom…. I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with the NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team. [We are] all committed to the same, singular purpose to help every man and woman in the world who is in need, who is hungry, who is without hope, to help every one of them fill a belly, get a roof over their heads, educate their children, have hope (Powell, 2001).

Colin Powell, 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005

Since the mid-1990s, and particularly since the 9/11 attacks on New York in 2001, international development assistance to conflict affected states has become increasingly enmeshed with the strategic security concerns of the major western powers in the face of new post-Cold War geopolitical challenges. International Development assistance, which during the immediate post-cold-war period crystallized around targeting the most marginalized and under-developed parts and populations of the world, and towards a set of basic wellbeing indicators concretised in the ‘Education For All’ and later ‘Millennium Development Goals’, began to prioritize ‘fragile’ and ‘conflict affected’ states1 .

This geographic and policy shift was justified through arguments highlighting that these states were in turn development ‘black spots’, a threat to their own populations, and a potential breeding ground for organizations intent on attacking the West. Security abroad and security at home became discursively linked through international development policy. As a result, aid to conflict affected states rose sharply during the first decade of the new millennium, and the relationship between Defence, Diplomatic and Development objectives became far more tightly coordinated by the major donors.

Running in parallel to these shifting trends, since the late 1990s, the relationship between education, conflict and international development has similarly risen up the policy agenda of the major international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bi-lateral agencies. Initially driven by concerns over the right to education and the realization that half the world’s out of school children were located in conflict affected states, since 9/11 this interest has dovetailed with the security concerns of the major Western donors highlighted above. Furthermore, education emerged as one of the key battlefronts in these ongoing discourses of the ‘war on terror’ – with religious ‘madrasa education’ being blamed for the production of anti-western attitudes in Islamic states, and girls education, particularly in Afghanistan, being seen as one of the core dividing lines between the Western backed state and opposition Taliban forces.

In this article I draw together these two related processes in order to better understand how international development assistance to the education sectors in conflict affected states is being impacted by the merging of security and development objectives. Firstly, I begin by exploring the rise of the security agenda in international development since the end of the Cold War and link this to the particularities of the education sector. Secondly, I look at the way the relationship between development, security and education, is conceptualised by agencies and institutions and the policy influence and implications that arise from these understandings. Thirdly, I explore the broader historical precedencies of the merging of security and development in the educations sector. Finally, I conclude by raising some issues on the challenges and choices that lie ahead for those of us working in the field of education and conflict.


1. Exploring the Rise of the Security Agenda in International Development

Since the beginning of the 1990s there has been a surge of interest from development actors about the relationship between international development and conflict (Bagoyoko & Gibert, 2009; Collier, 2009; Duffield, 2001; 2007; 2010). This concern can be traced back to initial post-Cold War concerns with the emergence of "new wars," particularly in Africa, and their international effects in the 1990s (Duffield, 2001; Kaldor, 1999). These concerns were accelerated after the 9/11 attacks on New York, with the realization that development failures in low-income countries could have direct security repercussions in highly industrialized countries. More recently, and particularly related to Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been a resurgenceof interest in the role of international development in potentially "winning hearts and minds" as part of the changing US-led counterinsurgency war (Duffield, 2008; English, 2010; Gregory, 2008; Hayden, 2009; Hoffman, 2009; Lopez, 2010; Mezran, 2009; Miller & Mills, 2010; Zambernardi, 2010).

Linked to these post-Cold War developments, we have witnessed an increased capacity and interest by Western nations, generally under the leadership of the United States, and often under the banner of the United Nations, to engage and intervene in a wide range of high profile conflicts from the Balkans to Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Importantly, these interventions were also discursively framed as "humanitarian interventions" (Fearon, 2008, 52), drawing on issues of human rights, democracy and freedom for their justification, paralleling the intentions and objectives of many international humanitarian and development organizations. This newfound willingness and capacity to directly intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states reflected a real shift in the post-Cold War balance of power.

This new "humanitarian interventionism" was accompanied by a massive increase in the number of humanitarian and development actors operating in conflict situations. By 1995, humanitarian agencies were responding to a total of 28 complex emergencies around the world, increasing from just five in 1985 (Bradbury, 1995, Slim, 1996). By the mid-1990s, emergency spending had increased by over 600 per cent from its mid-1980s point to over 3.5 billion USD and has continued to rise (Fearon, 2008). According to the 2008 Reality of Aid Report "aid allocations to the most severely conflict-affected countries. ...increased from 9.3 percent of total ODA [Overseas Development Assistance] in 2000 (for 12 countries) to 20.4 percent (for 10 countries) in 2006" (2008, p.8). Coupled with the general increase in ODA during the same period, aid to conflict affected countries nearly tripled in real terms between 2000 and 2006. In 2011, an OECD/DAC report, noted that 37 percent of total OECD country assistance (46.7 billion USD) went to conflict and fragile states; the top donors being the United States and the United Kingdom (OECD, 2011).

Military peacekeepinghas also increased exponentially over the last two decades. In 1994, total UN peacekeeping expenditure was estimated to be in the region of 3.2 billion USD per year (Duffield, 1997:539). In 2008, the OECD/DAC (2008, p.11) reported that United Nations (UN) peacekeeping expenditures had reached an historic high with twenty ongoing missions. They also noted that personnel had increased by over 700 per cent since 1999 to 110,000 personnel with a budget of 7 USD billion. In 2011-12 (July-June) it was $7.8 billion(UN, 2011).

In the post-9/11 environment the role and rationale of international development assistance and its geographical distribution began to be further revised away from human development objectives and towards military and security objectives. The opening quote from Colin Powell marks this shift in stark terms and fuelled the concern of many within the development community that the US and other Western powers were prioritizing counterterrorism overdevelopment.

While the USA, in the wake of 9/11,  was the most active in initially promoting this merging of security interest and development other major powers quickly followed the same path. Since the mid-2000s, many of the major international development agencies, such as DFID, USAID, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CIDA, AusAID, have developed a new policy related to international development assistance known as the "3D" approach (Diplomacy, Defense and Development), which seeks to integrate and embed development assistance within national diplomatic and security priorities. This "3D" approach appears to be institutionalizing the previously ad-hoc process of the merging of security and development within Western governments’ aid policy (Keenan, 2008). While the ‘3D’ approach to development interventions is often discursively presented as a logical development to ensure policy coherence, and also as a means of vindicating the importance of international development assistance, concerns have been raised about the relative power of the different dimensions of foreign policy making. The Centre for Global Development, reflecting on this shift and its implications for USAID, drew on a quote from David Kilcullen, a chief advisor to the US military, who noted:

At present, the U.S. defense budget accounts for approximately half of total global defense spending, while the U.S. armed forces employ about 1.68 million uniformed members. By comparison, the State Department employs about 6,000 Foreign Service officers, while the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has about 2,000. In other words, the Department of Defense is about 210 times larger than USAID and State combined—there are substantially more people employed as musicians in Defense bands than in the entire foreign service.(cited in Patrick & Brown, 2007:3)

As a resultthere is increasing concern that international development’s humanitarian prerogatives are in danger of being subordinated to short term political and military objectives, which threaten to both undermine and discredit the reputation of international development assistance as a mechanism to promote sustainable development and wellbeing in low income countries.

What is also clear from the literature is that the distribution of official development aid among severely conflict-affected countries was, and remains, highly unequal, and reflective of key western strategic political and military concerns. In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan accounted for over 60 percent of all aid to conflict-affected countries. Another eight countries shared the remaining 36.7 percent (Reality of Aid, 2008, p.217). In 2007, of the 38.4 percent of total ODA (37.2 billion USD) that went to conflict and fragile states, over half was directed to just five countries: Iraq (23 percent), Afghanistan (9.9 percent), and Ethiopia, Pakistan and Sudan (sharing 17 percent of the total) (OECD/DAC, 2008, p.8). In 2008, ODA to fragile states remained highly concentrated, with 51 percent of ODA to fragile states benefiting just six countries. Similarly, in 2009, half of all ODA to fragile states went to only eight countries (see Figure 1 below). This concentration of aid is predicted to continue in the coming decade (OECD, 2011).

1.1. Where Does Education Fit In?

Similar to trends in the broader field of international development, the rise of interest in education and conflict was initially prompted by a human rights-driven agenda. The late 1990s saw a mounting realization that reaching the international targets of Education for All (EFA) would be impossible without addressing conflict affected states, where it was estimated more than 50 per cent of the world’s out-of-school children reside (Save the Children, 2010). As intervention expanded, there emerged a growing recognition of the importance of education delivery in conflict and post conflict zones. Education, like food and shelter, slowly became seen as part of the core building blocks of human development and a necessary and vital part of humanitarian response in conflict situations (Save the Children, 2007; 2010).

Central to this rise in prominence of education within conflict situations has been the actions of the Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies (INEE), which emerged out of the World Education Forum in Dakar and is a network created to improve inter-agency communication and collaboration within the context of education in emergencies. The INEE has proven to be a highly effective lobbying, advocacy and policy coordination institution. As with the more general increases in development aid to conflict affected zones, increases in aid to education in conflict affected countries are at least partly due to the capacity of organizations like Save the Children, INEE, and UNICEF to successfully lobby for an expansion of their own mandates and activities in education -- by justifying why education service delivery should be at the heart of humanitarian and development responses to conflict and post-conflict situations. An important part of the justification comes from the notion that education can play a potentially catalytic and preventative role in situations of conflict and post-conflict (Novelli and Smith, 2011, Bush and Saltarelli, 2000).

Further impetus for attention to education and conflict emerged after the events of 9/11. Prompted by concerns over radical madrasas operating as terrorist training camps, of out-of-school youth being recruited into insurgent groups, and education systems failing millions of poor people around the world, there was a meeting of concern and interest by international development agencies and national security institutions on the importance of education’s potential role in conflict affected states.

The ex UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown noted that "development" and within that "education" were central planks in the UK strategy of both "winning hearts and minds" in Afghanistan and protecting the UK from attack:

….when the Taleban ran the country, only a million children were in school, all boys. Today there are 6.6 million - with more than 2 million girls. With the help of British development funding, 10,000 new teachers were recruited from 2007 to 2008, with more expected in 2009. This is an investment in the future of Afghanistan, in its stability and its resilience against extremism - and therefore in our security. (Brown, 2009:3)

In their recent Learning For All: DFID’s Education Strategy 2010–2015 paper, the UK government committed itself to spending around 50 per cent of all international assistance in conflict affected states, including 50 per cent of the UK’s overall aid to education. Other bi-lateral development agencies appear to be following a similar path (Lopes-Cardozo & Novelli, 2010).

Similarly, and linked to the failure of the US-led military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been an appreciation of the role of international development, and particularly education therein, by Western militaries, as forms of "soft power" to "win hearts and minds" in broader US-led counterinsurgency strategies (Gregory, 2008; Hayden, 2009).  School building initiatives in Afghanistan, education-based deradicalization programs, and education for reintegrating ex-combatants into society have become key tools in the global war on terror.


2. Understanding the Merging of Security and Development in Education: Common Concepts, Different Meanings.

As a result of the shifting landscape of development assistance outlined above, recognition of the relationship between development and security has now entered into the common sense lexicon of academics and practitioners alike working in the field of international development. "You cannot have development without security, and security is impossible without development" is the oft cited mantra.  This operates as a catch-all slogan that manages to bring together very different constituencies, with very different understandings of the security and development relationship.

In this section I briefly explore how the relationship between security, development and education is conceptualized in different policy and practitioner circles by sketching out a series of ‘ideal type’ understandings, exploring the way that each conceptualizes the relationship, their thematic focus and the policy implications of their interpretations.

2.1. Security/Development and Education – As Human Security and Human Rights

This approach, emerges very much from the NGO and United Nations family and conceptualises security in a broad and holistic manner: food security, health security, environmental security, community security, personal security etc. In this approach, very much rooted in human rights law, the right to education would be enshrined in these broader securities. A human security and education approach would focus on the 4 A’s of educational accessibility, adaptability, availability, acceptability (Tomasevski, 2003), but also on the specific security concerns of local school communities, such as protection, safety, codes of conduct regarding the behavior of teachers and learners and the localized way communities experience security/insecurity in the education sector. It might also address issues of freedom of speech, particularly in higher education, and its relationship to security. More generally, and as touched on earlier, implicit in human security thinking is the idea of the right to intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign states if they are not upholding the basic rights of their citizens – which some critics argue has been the mechanism through which military engagement by UN and NATO forces has been justified. Beyond the debate on ‘humanitarian interventionism’, human security and education advocates ascribe themselves to a set of global principles and values that underpin an integrated approach to sustainable development and education.

2.2. Security/Development and Education – As Counter-Terrorism Policy

This second approach to the relationship between education/development/security is focussed on the way that education and development assistance can contribute to the security of western donor nations. This is articulated by many of the bi-lateral agencies, and appears to work both as a strategic device to guide policy and also as a mechanism to justify development spending to reluctant national Northern electorates. Development assistance here is justified for its benefits in keeping us safe at home – either from international terrorism or mass migration (Duffield, 2010). There seems to be two forms of this, not mutually incompatible, with the first promoting long-term sustainable development in conflict affected states, as the best mode of protecting ‘our’ citizens, and the second a more short term and strategic understanding of the way investment in education and development can be strategically used to enhance our security at home.

The UNDP makes this link:

Development in poor countries is the front line in the battle for global peace and collective security. The problem with the current battle plan is an overdeveloped military strategy and an under-developed strategy for human security… While there is no automatic link between poverty and civil conflict, violent outcomes are more likely in societies marked by deep polarization, weak institutions and chronic poverty. The threats posed by terrorism demand a global response. So do the threats posed by human insecurity in the broader sense. Indeed, the ‘war against terror’ will never be won unless human security is extended and strengthened. (UNDP, 2005, p.12, 152) 

This type of thinking applied to education and conflict tends towards a focus on the underlying structural reasons for the emergence of conflict. Poverty reduction and policies addressing the poor and marginalized which seek to give them a greater stake in society are favored interventions in conflict affected states.

An illustration of this is the prevalence of references to the role of education in the US’s counter-terrorism strategies elaborated in the Patterns of Global TerrorismAnnual Reports (since 2004 renamed Country Reports on Terrorism). As an example, the 2007 report, in Chapter 5, Terrorist Safe Havens, sub-section 7 focuses on Basic Education in Muslim Countries. In this section it notes that,

The Department of State, USAID, and other U.S. agencies continued to support an increased focus on education in predominantly Muslim countries and those with significant Muslim populations. The United States‘ approach stresses mobilizing public and private resources as partners to improve access, quality, and the relevance of education, with a specific emphasis on developing civic-mindedness in young people. In many Muslim-majority countries, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, the challenge was to increase country capacity to provide universal access to primary education and literacy(US State Department 2008, p.243).

Whilst this approach appears progressive and not incompatible with broader sustainable development practices, the link between poverty and conflict may lead to the diversion of resources away from addressing the poorest and most marginalized population groups in non-conflict zones. It might also lead to shifting aid away from those countries whose conflicts are least likely to effect "Western" security interests, with aid being channelled to countries that pose a greater direct threat to Western interests.

Short term

The short-term version of this seeks to focus more strategically on ways that international development assistance and education can be used to enhance Western security. This moves away from notions of sustainable development to undermine ‘terrorism’ to using aid to education as a sweetener to buy government loyalty. For example, the Kerry Lugar Bill of 2009 was meant to give Pakistan 7.5 billion dollars in non-military US assistance over 5 years. US Senator Dick Lugar, said in his statement to the Senate:

While our bill envisions sustained economic and political cooperation with Pakistan, it is not a blank check. It expects that the military institutions in Pakistan will turn their attention to the extremist dangers within Pakistan’s borders (Lugar, 2009).

In this short-term approach, the relationship between aid, education and the new geopolitics of the war on terror does not just stop in the direct theatre of operations. Increasingly, aid is being targeted at strategic locations in the post-Cold War World to build alliances and garner support, and education is seen to serve as a vital mechanism in the battle of hearts and minds across the Muslim world (Indonesia, Yemen, Phillipines etc.). Investment in low-income education systems can also serve as a facilitator for cooperation in other domains. The increase in aid flows to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, and Djibouti in Africa over recent years represent examples of flows of aid to education post-9/11 that occur in parallel with the development of US military bases used as launching pads for military activities in Afghanistan and Somalia respectively (OECD/DAC, 2011) .

The critique of this short-term approach is that aid to education is not aimed at contributing to sustainable development in the sector, but more so to particular strategic and security policy objectives and to buying government loyalty. This can have serious distorting effects in terms of the allocation of aid, undermine aid effectiveness and reduce the credibility of development agencies and their work within the local communities. The Kerry Lugar Bill raised such issues in Pakistan, especially regarding US education assistance:

Pakistanis tend to believe that U.S. assistance to Pakistan is driven not out of humanitarian concern rather a cold requirement to sustain Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S. war on terrorism. This has led to various formulations such as the United States is "buying Pakistan," "leasing its military," "creating a vassal state," and so forth. Other programs such as U.S.-promoted educational reform of the religious schools (aka "madrassah reform") and public school curriculum reform are often viewed warily as Washington-led attempts to de-Islamize Pakistan’s educational system. (Fair, 2009, p.5).

This short-term approach overlaps with the next discourse which focuses on the role of education in assisting in counterinsurgency work by Western militaries.

2.3. Security/Development and Education – As Counterinsurgency

This discourse is a military one and emerged out of the failures of US led and overwhelmingly military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Failure to secure the post occupation peace in these countries led to a radical re-thinking of US military strategy, spearheaded by General Patraeus, (ex chief commander of US armed forces in Afghanistan andlater Director of the CIA). This resulted in a return to older counterinsurgency doctrines, which mix hard and soft power and focus as much on controlling the civilian population as on targeting militants (Gregory, 2008; Hayden, 2009). Education has a special position in this ‘soft-power’ and ‘winning hearts and minds’ agenda.

In this understanding of the relationship between education/security/development, education becomes a tool in the counterinsurgency process – both in terms of school reconstruction programmes, de-radicalization strategies, technical and vocational skills training for ‘at-risk’ youth – all geared at complimenting particular and contingent military missions aimed at pacifying local populations. Centrally, education becomes related to the security of western military forces, rather than the security of local communities, and generally tied to very short term objectives that are likely to be detrimental to long term and sustainable development.

This strategy was consolidated with the establishment by Western occupying forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan of Provisional Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that under the control of the military also carry out development activities such as the construction of schools. In 2009 an alliance of NGOs operating in Afghanistan produced a highly critical report condemning the behavior of the Western occupying forces. They alleged that the military (particularly the US and France) were continuing to use "unmarked, white vehicles….conventionally used by the UN and aid agencies" and were carrying out infrastructure work traditionally done by development organizations as part of their counterinsurgency "hearts and minds" strategies (Waldman 2009, p.5). All this, they argued, was producing a "blurring of the civil-military distinction… (and) contributed to a diminution in the perceived independence of NGOs, increased the risk for aid workers, and reduced the areas in which NGOs can safely operate"(Waldman 2009, p.9), we will explore these effects in greater detail in the next section.

Examples of the way education programming becomes utilized in counterinsurgency strategies are broad and varied. Captain Chad Pillai (2009) of the US Armyargues forthe expansion of literacy and vocational training programmes implemented in Iraq to Afghanistan. These adult literacy centers and vocational education programmes are funded through the US Army’s Commanders Emergency Response Fund, and implemented directly by the US military rather than development agencies. Pallai describes how in response to the low level of literacy of Iraqi police applicants and construction contractors in the cities of Tar Araf and Ar Ramadi, the military decided to develop an adult literacy program that would not only develop skills, but give youth opportunities other than joining insurgencies.

Pallai (2009) notes that "In addition to expanding Iraqi Security Forces, the adult education programs helped to "drain the swamp" of potential insurgent recruits by providing alternative economic opportunities for the population" (23).

The diagram below (Pillai, 2009, 23) reflects visually the way education planning becomes militarized – note the ‘target’ of "young men between the ages of 16-28" and the overall objective of the programme to "reduce the number of potential recruits for Anti-Iraq Forces.



While the article offers little concrete evidence of the impact of the programme, he asserts that:

…Ar Ramadi has become one of the most peaceful cities in Iraq. Although we cannot scientifically substantiate the importance of educational programs for adults, we also cannot ignore that it is the largest positive factor for our mission’s success. (24)

In Afghanistan, education has become one of the central battlefields of the conflict between the ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) and the Taliban. This revolves around both the West’s promotion of girls’ education, their attacks on Madrasa and religious education and the way school construction, particularly in the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, has become a key mechanism for winning hearts and minds.

In situations such as Iraq and Afghanistan it appears that humanitarian and development organizations have become overwhelmed by this counterinsurgency agenda, making it almost impossible to distance themselves from the occupying forces and present a picture of impartiality and humanitarian neutrality (Torrente, 2004; Woods, 2005). One researcher from Médecins Sans Frontières raised the question of the problem of carrying out humanitarian and development activities under the overarching rule of an occupying power, arguing that whether they directly engage with the occupying forces or not:

Over time, the resentment that often builds up within a population against foreign rule can lead to an equally violent rejection of all changes brought about by outside actors, their claimed neutrality notwithstanding. (Crombe, 2006)

Clearly, the use of education as a weapon of counterinsurgency undermines the efficacy and long term viability of educational assistance, politicizes the education systems, distorts and diverts resources away from more sustainable education assistance and reduces the credibility of aid to education. As we shall see in the next section it also increase the security risks for aid workers.

2.4. Security/Development and Education – Protecting NGOs and Aid Workers in Conflict Affected States

For many development agencies,the education/security/development relationship is conceptualised in relation to increased concern over the security situation of development workers operating in conflict-affected situations. Since the turn of the millennium, there has been a marked increase in attacks on aid workers, due both to the sharp increase in the number of aid workers operating in conflict affected contexts, and also to the increased and explicit targeting of aid workers who are deemed to be politicized and allied to ‘western’ interests. Debates relating both to codes of conduct – in terms of engagement with military forces by international agencies and NGOs - and also relating to the development of a series of Minimum Security Standards for a wide range of organizations, not least the UN, have developed in order to protect their workers. These measures also have implications in terms of programme delivery, and also the relationship between the agency and the communities they serve, and the perception of the communities towards them (Stoddard et al, 2006).

In Afghanistan this situation of insecurity has become particularly severe and some commentators have attributed this to the increased participation of the military in development activities as well as a general and emergent mistrust of foreigners (Stoddard et al, 2006) This has adversely affected NGO security, endangered the lives of NGO workers, and restricted their ability to operate. NGOs are being increasingly subject to direct threats and attacks. Large parts of the country are inaccessible to humanitarian actors, leaving many communities deprived of humanitarian assistance. NGOs regularly receive warnings that any perceived association with military forces will make them a target. In many areas, NGO offices and staff have been searched for links to the military, and threatened with severe consequences if such links are established. Likewise, NGO projects have been forced to close after visits from PRTs or foreign donor agencies in heavily armed escorts. In the aftermath of such visits, communities have informed NGOs that they can no longer guarantee the safety of project staff (Waldman, 2009). In a further report Stoddard et al (2009) noted that in Afghanistan, locals were no longer making a distinction between those organizations working with the military and those that were not. They suggested that for Afghan locals "all Western-based international humanitarian organizations are judged as partisan" (Stoddard et al, 2009, p.6). This breakdown in trust in humanitarian and development organizations can only increase the dangers that aid workers face.

While the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan are indeed extreme, it does appear that there is a growing tendency for humanitarian and development organizations, because of their largely "Western" nature, home location, and political orientation, to be targeted in locations where the "West" is seen, at least by a substantial section of the population, as the enemy. That is that aid workers are not just being targeted because they are somehow collaborating with the occupying forces directly, but more so that they are seen as an integral part of that force.

2.5. Security/Development and Education – Protecting Schools and the Education Community from Attack

This links to the preceding discourse concerning attacks on aid workers, but focuses more generally on the increase in attacks on education systems and communities worldwide. The focus is concerned with measures to monitor attacks on education, bring perpetrators of attacks on education to international courts, develop strategies to encourage warring parties to keep education systems out of conflicts and promote better international awareness of the frequency of attacks on education. Essentially it is aimed at improving the security of education institutions and communities caught in conflict.

The impulse for this came initially from UNESCO and led to a series of publications during the last 5 years (O’Malley, 2007; UNESCO 2009). This has crystallized into the creation of the Global Coalition to Protect Education From Attack ( in 2009, led by the Qatari based ‘Education Above All’; ‘Human Rights Watch’, UNICEF, and Education International among others.

Programmatic measures to protect education include:

• Physical protection of schools, teachers and students

• Community involvement in education

• Alternative delivery of education including community-based schools, mobile training teams, and distance learning

• Negotiations between conflicting parties and education stakeholders to disallow violence on or near school grounds.

• Protecting higher education

• Prevention through restricting the military use of schools, restricting the political use of schools

• Advocacy

• Monitoring and reporting

(Groneman, 2011)

Similar to the issue of attacks on education aid workers, there are arguments raised as to whether the increased merging of security and development policy by western governments, and particularly the securitization of aid to education is increasing the risk of education becoming caught up in armed conflicts. In order to understand the motivations of attacks on education, more research needs to be done, however in conflicts crossing the war on terror fault lines (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia) education institutions have been targeted because they are seen as carriers of western ideologies and attitudes, as well as symbols of government and/or occupying forces (Human Rights Watch, 2010). In Afghanistan, according to Human Rights Watch, education systems and personnel are attacked for three overlapping categories:

First, opposition to the government and its international supporters by Taliban or other armed groups; second, ideological opposition to education other than that offered in madrassas (Islamic schools), and in particular opposition to girls’ education; and third, opposition to the authority of the central government and the rule of law by criminal groups (Human Rights Watch, 2006, p.33).

Clearly in the case of Afghanistan, education has become a central battleground in the war and emphasizes the increasing dangers that all education personnel and students face there. This also appears to be occurring in Somalia (UN, 2008) and Iraq (Bonham Carter, 2007; O'Malley, 2007). Most problematically, both sides in these polarized contexts are increasingly interpreting education provision as a battle between Western secular education and Islamic madrassa education, an unhelpful and incorrect binary (McClure, 2009).

2.6. Security/Development and Education – The Security First Approach to Post Conflict Reconstruction and its Critique

This final discourse focuses on the potential role and possibilities for education in conflict affected states. It builds on the work of INEE and its members in arguing that the provision of education is of vital importance to developing a sustainable peace and long-term security. The arguments collectively pose a challenge to the current and dominant approach to post-conflict reconstruction activities whereby the majority of focus is on bringing security (demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants; security sector reform) followed by promoting elections and free markets. Where education is funded, it is normally seen as a ‘peace dividend’ or a means of targeting and keeping busy potential armed actors through TVET and skills training for out of work youth, ex-combatants etc.

This ‘Security First’ approach has been critiqued for producing a model of post conflict ‘stabilisation’ rather than ‘transforming’ the root causes that led to conflict, which are often located in the unequal distribution of resources and life opportunities. Here it is argued that greater investments in education and health could produce a more ‘social model’ of post-conflict reconstruction that contributes to both stability and long term transformation (Novelli & Smith, 2011). The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently funded a $200 million, 4 year, UNICEF programme (2012-2015) to promote the role of education in peacebuilding, which is informed by many of these arguments for the positive role that education might play in promoting long-term security. In this perspective long term security is best achieved through addressing the underlying drivers of any particular conflict and that improving educational access, equity and quality can play a key role therein.

2.7. Competing Foci/Diverging Priorities

In exploring these different discourses and issues relating to the relationship between security, development and education we can see how it can be pushed in very different directions. In many ways both the issue of the security for aid workers and that of educational institutions and community are, at least partly, outcomes of the polarization created by increased counterinsurgency and security inspired interventions. There are also hierarchies of power and resources related to the different issues and inter-related dependencies. Many NGOs rely on funding from northern governments and are thus often reluctant to speak out about some of these issues. Similarly, military power and wealth, particularly of the US army, often means it can dominate agendas. These inequalities of power and voice mean that it is the security and counterinsurgency strategies of national governments and militaries that dominate, to the detriment of a broader human security conceptualization, which is thus likely to undermine long term and sustainable development approaches and the credibility of aid to education itself.


3. Education and the Merging of Security and Development: Historical Precedents and why we might be worried!

Having laid out some broad analysis of the merging of security and development, and the multiple and competing discourses therein, I now turn to an analysis of the more problematic and worrying ways in which education gets caught up in these agendas by looking back to an earlier time period where security and development became intertwined. In what follows I will explore the case of Afghanistan during the Cold War, as an extreme example of the way education, development institutions and education practitioners can become caught up in the bigger geopolitical conflicts of our time. My intention is to demonstrate how "education and development" activities can be captured and subverted by security and military agencies, which then in the name of "development" carry out activities that seek to contribute to the war effort and undermine long term and sustainable education and development practices and processes.

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the US and its Cold War allies sought to undermine the occupation through a variety of means. One central plank of the strategy was to assist the various "mujahideen" resistance fighters in their guerrilla war. Much of the resources for this process were channeled via Pakistan, and many of the fighters were recruited from youth living in the Afghan refugee camps that developed along Pakistan’s northern border and from Pakistani youth studying in religious "madrasas." Education appears to have played a key part in this recruitment process. In 1984, a USAID-funded project was begun. The project was led by the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, to develop textbooks for use in the camps. As the International Crisis Group notes:

Written by American Afghanistan experts and anti- Soviet Afghan educators, they aimed at promoting jihadi values and militant training among Afghans. USAID paid the University of Nebraska 51 million dollars from 1984 to 1994 to develop and design these textbooks, which were mostly printed in Pakistan. Over 13 million were distributed at Afghan refugee camps and Pakistani madrasas where students learnt basic math by counting dead Russians and Kalashnikov rifles (2002, p.13).

Craig (2000) in research on primary education in Afghanistan, provides evidence of the nature of these texts from a 4th grade math textbook which raises the following question:

The speed of a Kalashnikov bullet is 800 meters per second. If a Russian is at a distance of 3,200 meters from a mujahid, and that mujahid aims at the Russian’s head, calculate how many seconds it will take for the bullet to strike the Russian in the forehead (92-93).

When the Taliban eventually took power in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal and the defeat the Afghan government, the curriculum was implemented across the country. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that according to Stephens and Ottaway(2002), even in the wake of the defeat of the Taliban after the US led invasion in 2002, the text continued to be used.Similarly, in Pakistan, many "madrasas" continued to use the textbooks. It is these same "madrasas" that were to become the focus of US concern as alleged promoters of Islamic violence, militancy and anti-US feeling. Restructuring the curriculum in these schools has now become a top priority for USAID, yet critical self-reflection on USAID’s role in producing the "hate" curriculum is conspicuously absent.


4. Conclusions

In summing up the core arguments of this paper, we can say that post-Cold War Western interventionism has led to a massive increase in both peacekeeping and development assistance directed to conflict and post-conflict countries, resulting in an expansion of humanitarian and development personnel and a broadening of the nature of the activities that these organizations engage in. Since 9/11 this process has accelerated and expanded and has taken on a more military character since the US army shifted from a counter-terrorism to a counterinsurgency approach which sees development assistance as ‘a non-kinetic weapon of war’ to win ‘hearts and minds’.

Furthermore, rather than the steady flows of funds towards key allies during the Cold War, resources appear now to both flow and shift swiftly towards countries where key conjunctural conflicts or potential conflicts are considered of strategic importance to Western governments. A form of "geopolitical firefighting" might be an apt metaphor for this process, which is a sign perhaps that development aid, and perhaps development itself, is now increasingly concerned with containing, managing and engaging with conflicts rather than acting as a catalyst for sustainable growth (Duffield, 2007).

As we have seen, International Development assistance to education has become caught up in all of these changes and its rationales and justifications have incorporated both human rights concerns, security objectives, counterinsurgency utility as well as a mechanism through which to build and buy government support in conflict affected states. This pulling together of very different objectives, representing diverse constituencies, highlights how a superficial unity amongst education/development/security actors hides deep tensions on the best use of international development assistance to education in conflict affected states.

Clearly more research needs to be carried out to provide further evidence of the current state of play of the merging of security and development in key conflict affected states, to gather more information on how NGOs and civil society organizations are being effected by this process in the education sectors in particular places, and explore and collate what strategies organizations might be developing to deal with the complexities of these issues on the ground. Without doubt this is a sensitive and complex task and touches powerful interests. However, if we are to avoid a repetition of the errors of Cold War aid to education, then it is a task that needs to be done, and done quickly, before it is too late.




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1 This paper was written thanks to generous funding from the Open Society Education Support Program.

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