Globally, an estimated 230 million children live in areas affected by armed conflict, which are home to more than one third of the world’s out-of-school children. As conflict pushes more families into poverty, children are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation. They are likely to leave school early and take up dangerous, very often low-paid work. Dire economic conditions also push young girls into early marriage with all its associated risks.
As conflict, insecurity and civil unrest are becoming a primary challenge in different parts of the world, more children and young people are affected, involving complex transition and recovery processes. We recognised that there is a need to support social stability by fostering a culture of peace and prepare them for the developmental demands of their communities.
In a response, we developed Life Skills and Financial Literacy for Peace Education, which is based on the Aflatoun curriculum but adapted to a (post) conflict context. In Syria, this is being contextualised and implemented by the network Mobaderoon. While children and young people are often the victims in the Syrian war, they are also potential peacebuilders and menders of the social fabric as they are called upon to rebuild their broken economy.
The programme has the potential to assist in conflict transformation by giving them the skills to promote understanding and critical thinking vital to analyse the underlying cause(s) of conflict.
Our research shows that programmes seeking to enhance the life skills and economic prospects of children and young people play a key role in promoting their active participation in peace-building initiatives. Existing humanitarian efforts must be coupled with an increased focus on developing future-oriented strategies that prepare them with the education and skills they need to help rebuild their lives and societies.