Since the inception of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015, the world has witnessed the efforts placed by nations across the globe in promoting development and aid. This is vital in ensuring that the implementation of the SDGs will ensure wholesome inclusivity of the nations and their citizens. Hence, governments and private institutions are mandated to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of these SDGs to improve the quality of the lives of all its citizens, with special emphasis on the women, youth, poor and marginalized.
Education plays a vital role towards the achievement of sustainable development. In order to promote access to education and advocate its influence as a human right, states have the responsibility to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. This can be achieved through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity as well as culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
Despite there being considerable accomplishment of access to quality education, the attainment of education for sustainable development has been tainted by conflict and sporadic civil unrest in a number of countries. Consequently, there has been a rise in the population of the global refugees and migrants. According to the Institute of Economic Affairs and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), Kenya is a host to more than 600,000 refugees and migrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. In its report published in 2016, the UNHCR reported that “more than half – 3.7 million – of the six million school-age children under its mandate have no school to go to”. Additionally, “1.75 million refugee children are not in primary school and 1.95 million refugee adolescents are not in secondary school”.
This report brings to light the fact that refugees are five times more likely to have no access to basic education than the global average. This is the genesis of a crisis that can have a severe effect on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (“inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all”). This is emphasized in the UNESCO Report published in 2014 and 2015 that highlights the fact that “out of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, 3.7 million have no school to go to. Moreover, refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. Only 50 per cent have access to primary education, compared with a global level of more than 90 per cent. As the children grow older, the gap crevasses further. It is reported that 84 per cent of non-refugee adolescents attend lower secondary school, but only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents have that same opportunity. At the higher education level, just one per cent of refugees attend university compared to 34 per cent globally.”
The eastern Africa region has witnessed varying forms of conflict and violent extremism that has led to the displacement of the population. The aforementioned staggering statistics bring to light the need to foster the reach of educational facilities to the refugees and displaced populations in Kenya and the world. Moreover, in order to promote education for sustainable development, it is vital that the education systems promote and inculcate a culture of peace and non-violence.
Despite the fact that the number of refugees entering Kenya has decreased since 2015, the population of the children in the refugee camps in need of a reliable education system that will promote literacy and numeracy is increasing. Further, there are a number of refugees who are migrants moving from one education center to another which has led to a disruption to the access of quality education. The current education systems are not unified to address the challenges faced by migrant and displaced populations. Moreover, it is important that the education systems promote the processing of information and integration of cohesive societies.
Due to lack of information, refugees and migrants are facing discrimination, stereotyping and prejudice. Additionally, the necessity of establishing education systems that address the needs of migrating, displaced and hosting populations at local, national and international levels. This means that resources need to be mobilized and countries establish coordination of efforts to foster inclusive education. Hence, this brings to fore the following questions:
- What is the effect of population movements resulting from war and violence on access to and quality of education?
- How has the population movement affected the integration of migrant populations with hosting populations?
- How can systems that promote culture of peace and non-violence as well as global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity integrate with the current education policies and systems?
One of the ways through which access to basic and quality education can be enhanced is through the adoption of peace education. Peace education is one of the avenues through which sustainable development can be achieved. Peace education promotes a culture that instils skills in the population that fosters constructive conflict resolution thereby promoting equality and cultural diversity.
Peace education consists of a number of components that foster environmental responsibility, communication skills, non-violence, conflict resolution techniques, democracy, human rights awareness, tolerance of diversity, coexistence and gender equality. Students, through peace education, develop knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and values that enable them to identify and understand the sources of local and global issues and promote conflict resolution, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and societal inclusiveness.
In the existing education system, peace education can be incorporated in the curriculum through the existing subjects. For instance, peace education can be promoted through Civic Education, Social Ethics, Agriculture, Health Science, Religious Education, Environmental Education and extra-curricular activities. Teachers play a pivotal role in promoting peace education through knowledge dissemination. In order to serve the welfare of the students, teachers need to create physical environments that encourage student engagement and participation and promote learning through mentorship and serving as role models.
Due to conflict and civil strife in the region, the number of refugees and migrants has increased. The instability has had a negative impact the access to education. The number of children who do not have access to education has increased due to lack of integrated education systems and social awareness of the hosting populations. It is on this basis that peace education should be promoted and integrated into the education system. Peace education will have a positive impact to not only the students but also the teachers and the society. The knowledge disseminated through peace education will increase awareness, knowledge and skills needed to create sustainable peace and development and enhance education for sustainable development.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the education system in Kenya be enhanced to incorporate peace education. A further recommendation is to enhance the education policy to incorporate the training of teachers and educators on peace education. Moreover, the government of Kenya, in collaboration with international organs such as UNHCR, can enhance the quality of education and expand enrolment to include the refugees and migrants thereby reducing education wastage.
 UNHCR, 2016, Global Trends – Forced Displacement in 2015: http://www.unhcr.org/ statistics/unhcrstats/576408cd7/unhcr-global-trends-2015.html; https://www.unhcr.org/ke/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/09/Missing-Out-Refugee-Education-in-Crisis.pdf
 UNHCR, Note 1,Ibid
 Global enrolment rates refer to 2014 (UNESCO Institute for Statistics) and refugee enrolments rates refer to 2015 (UNHCR).
 See Groff, L., and Smoker, P. (1996). Creating global-local cultures of peace. Peace and Conflict Studies Journal, 3, (June); Harris, I.M. (1999). Types of peace education. In A. Raviv, L. Oppenheimer, and D. Bar-Tal (Eds.), How Children Understand War and Peace (pp. 299-317). San Francisco: Jossey- Bass Publishers; Johnson, M.L. (1998). Trends in peace education. ERIC Digest. ED417123; Swee-Hin Toh. 1997. “Education for Peace: Towards a Millennium of Well-Being”. Paper for the Working Document of the International Conference on Culture of Peace and Governance (Maputo, Mozambique, 1–4 September 1997)