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Examining the Impact of Education and Civic Engagement on Youth Engagement in Violence in Somaliland

Tue, March 7, 8:00 to 9:30am, Sheraton Atlanta, 1, Georgia 10 (South Tower)

Proposal

Evidence on the links between education and violence reduction has pointed to varied outcomes. On the one hand, education offers opportunities for youth to gain knowledge and skills that are meant to help them advance in the future, such that they will not be vulnerable to the recruitment of armed groups. On the other hand, education also creates awareness of injustices and raises expectations, which, if unmet, can turn into frustration and anger. Across the Middle East and Africa, development has spurred the expansion of education and other basic services, but progress in other realms such as governance, economic stability and employment is lagging. This disequilibrium has accentuated grievances, which youth respond to in various ways.  It was no coincidence that in the past decade, youth across the Arab World rebelled against authoritarian regimes. Oftentimes gifted, ambitious and conscientious yet powerless to realize their dreams, this generation of youth has been a catalyst for change, both positive and negative. Through a mixed-methods study in Somaliland we attempt to understand if efforts to promote secondary education and civic engagement among Somali youth aged 15-24 years are able to reduce young people’s propensity towards violence, illegal migration and other negative behaviors, by increasing their sense of optimism about the future, strengthening their connection to their communities and improving their perceptions of government. Building on research from Somalia in 2012, where we tested several different hypotheses about what drives engagement in political violence, this study aims to demonstrate if and how the specific program interventions may have been able to address those drivers and consequently improve the prospects of long-term stability in Somalia. The presentation will share how the research was conducted, including innovative data collection and analysis procedures, and the implications of the study’s findings for practice and policy around violence reduction, education and youth engagement. 

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