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Countering violent extremism or countering violent exclusion? Youth Educational Aspirations and Conflict or Peace in Karachi and Nairobi

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


There is much talk of the link between youth and violent extremism in countries affected by conflict. Media, lawmakers, and international aid organizations express significant concern about youth idleness and radicalization. We note that although international norms and institutions have gained strength in the past several decades and are better equipped to promote education for all, extremist ideology, social divisions, and an unprecedented level of inequitable distribution of resources pose serious challenges to the continued expansion of equitable and universal access to good quality education. Progress toward these goals requires a better understanding of the mechanisms that underpin the relationship between education and conflict, and between extremism and exclusion. This paper explores how young men and women’s educational aspirations and experiences with formal and nonformal education may contribute to underlying conditions for conflict or positive social change in Nairobi and Karachi. We present data from a qualitative study of youth aspirations and education in Karachi, Pakistan. From March 2014 to August 2015, we and a team of research assistants, collected in-depth qualitative interviews from 40 in-school and 40 out-of-school youth to learn more about their hopes, aspirations, education and views of conflict or peace in Karachi and in Pakistan writ-large. Each subsample was further divided into half boys and half girls, and further subdivided into three socio-economic strata (upper-, middle-, and low-income), and several ethnicities. Across a remarkably diverse group of ethnicities and socioeconomic strata, we show how aspects of education (exclusions, inequities) may contribute to underlying conditions for conflict in Karachi and Nairobi.


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