Youth Agency and Peacebuilding: An Analysis of the Role of Formal and Non-Formal Education

This Synthesis Report aims to understand the ways in which the agency of youth – or their ‘space for manoeuvre’ – is impacted (or not) through a range of formal and non- formal education interventions, and how this enables or restricts young peoples ability to contribute to processes of peacebuilding and social cohesion, either in political, socio-cultural or economic ways. It combines a focus on youth agency, peace building and education – an intersection that is often not addressed simultaneously. Recognising education’s potential to enhance or undermine processes of sustainable peacebuilding and social cohesion, this report brings together a focus on the role of formal and non-formal education initiatives that are available to (some) youth in four conflict-affected countries: Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa and Uganda. In addressing these issues the report aims to provide useful analysis and reflection for a range of audiences including scholars, practitioners and other professionals working in youth-related policy and programming as well as youth themselves, whose voice is too frequently marginalized.

Key Findings:

  • Youth need to be understood in a relational perspective and as a heterogeneous group with various (marginalized, or more elite) groups
  • Education can and is doing harm as well as good –Education is not a panacea for peace of itself
  • Need for reform of formal education to support youth’s socio-cultural, political and economic needs.
  • Redistribution/economic-focused approaches alone do not serve all (socio-cultural, political and economic) aspects of youth agency.
  • Holistic, relevant education (formal/non-formal) is an urgent demand from young people. Furthermore, narrow technical framings of the role of education undermine opportunity to support youth agency in peacebuilding processes
  • Potential to harness youth agency for peacebuilding is un-recognized and under-supported –often a lack of political will.
  • Further research and systematic evaluation is needed

Resource Info

Resource Type



Published by

Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding

Authored by

Mieke T.A. Lopes Cardozo, Sean Higgins, Marielle L.J. Le Mat


Adolescents and Youth
Education for Peacebuilding