It is clear that, similar to other African countries, there has not been a chance during Eritrea’s tumultuous history to cultivate a culture of democracy, in education as well as politics. This suggests that a culture of democracy, peculiar to national identity, must be organically grown rather than temporarily borrowed.

Philosophically, legally and politically, trust between people and nations is constructed as “recognition”. The ability to recognize the other amid differences and negative history is, in turn, deeply rooted in education and substantive democratic culture.

My research is based on how education directly affects politics and conflict-resolution in East Africa (mainly Eritrea/Ethiopia). I intend to explore pertinent

issues such as the role of the nation-state in education: how the universities might be involved in processes such as the creation and reformulation of laws and policies, including military policy. Other issues that arise within the relationship between education and politics are academic freedom in teaching and research, the re-prioritization of creative education required for the acceptance of diversity in political thought, and the legitimization of international human rights codes. Respect for human rights depends upon the education-centred and broader institutional reforms that support it.

Methodologically, the first task would be philosophical at root since it is important to conceptually understand what is required to cultivate educational reform that is transparent and accountable in a country that has not fully consolidated its democracy. The second task has a practical orientation; that is, what local and foreign policies are currently in place that further this conceptual scheme and what local and foreign policies hinder it?

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©Helen Tewolde (M.A. Research Proposal)

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