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Rebuilding regimes or rebuilding community? Teachers' agency for social reconstruction
journal contributionposted on 2006-03-01, 00:00 authored by Athena Vongalis-Macrow
Non-government organisations (NGOs) are playing an increasingly significant role in post-conflict situations as donor funding pours into rebuilding programs. Donor funding supports the development of a range of humanitarian and civic programs such as peace restoration, civic reconstruction and peace-keeping. This article is a case study of the rebuilding of the education system in post-conflict Iraq that contextualises the activities sanctioned by new regime and aid agencies in post-conflict Iraq. While the war and crisis in Iraq continues to fuel great debate, a full political discussion falls outside the scope of this paper. Instead, the intention is to unpack the way that the dominant regime rehabilitates the education system in a seemingly apolitical way. Attempts to rebuild the Iraqi education system appear to be a case of the separation of political rehabilitation and social reconstruction. As the need for the new regime to assert political legitimacy grows, an institution such as education experiences vast changes as local educational practices are restructured to complement the new regime. In this process, the local teachers and their cultural and educational expertise are overshadowed by the ‘neutral’ politics of reconstruction. However, the rebuilding of education systems is a political process, the politics of which are evident in the way that critical agents, such as teachers, are being reshaped in the image of the new regime. Teachers have the capacity to contribute to the long-term social and cultural rebuilding of post-conflict nations through their broad social and educational agency. However, the educational policy and plans of regime-sponsored funding effectively marginalise the important role of local educators in the civic rebuilding. Teachers’ agency in Iraq is being overlooked as a means of using educators as peace-keepers who can build long-term educational capacity and stability in the post-conflict situation.