New research reveals education’s potential in reducing violence and advancing peace

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), have released new research providing compelling evidence of the strong relationship between education and peace. Released on the International Day of Education, the analysis demonstrates how improvements in education levels are closely linked to more peaceful societies.

The past decade has been marked by lethal conflicts, crises and wars. Across the globe, wars keep taking countless lives, displacing civilians from their homes and leaving many more in a dire need of life-saving assistance. There is an urgent need to rebuild the foundations that can underpin lasting peace, and yet too often one of the most crucial of these, education, is often relegated to a development afterthought.

“This year began with a dismal global outlook for peace, but we can restore hope by urgently investing more in education”, said Laura Frigenti, GPE Chief Executive Officer. “It is time we heeded the mounting evidence that education is a smart, mutually sustaining investment in prosperity and peace.”

While the disastrous impacts of conflict on education are widely acknowledged, research on the reciprocal relationship between peace and education has been sparse and outdated. To fill this essential knowledge gap and provide evidence to drive sound policies, the GPE has partnered with the IEP to break down and better understand the relationship between education and peace.

Countries with higher primary school completion rates are in general more peaceful. Conversely, countries that enjoy high levels of peacefulness have secondary school completion rates of 99 percent. On the other hand, countries that suffer from low levels of peacefulness have on average secondary school completion rates of only 52 percent.
Countries with high education levels enjoy more overall social and political stability, and the opposite is also true: countries with low education levels tend to experience a higher occurrence and intensity of internal conflict.

In other words, better performance in education can reduce the severity and duration of societal violence and save lives.
Improvements in peace indicators see more investment in education. Countries that invest more in education enjoy higher levels of peacefulness. For example, in 2020, Namibia, one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, had the sixth-highest rate of government investment in education globally as a percentage of GDP.

Mounting evidence has shown that investing in education is essential for peacebuilding. There is an urgent need to ensure adequate resources are channelled to education. This can allow governments, donors and international organizations to live up to their collective responsibility of giving every girl and boy the opportunity to get the knowledge and skills they need to usher in more peaceful and prosperous future.