The impact of war on the education of children in war -torn African regions: Parents' perceptions
Ihedioha, Amanze Charles
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The purpose of this study was to explore African parents' perceptions of the impact of war on the education of children in war-torn regions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) guaranteed education as a right even in the times of emergencies (Sommers, 2002). It is estimated that as much as 43 million children worldwide in war-torn countries are denied proper or some form of education during armed conflicts (Ngcobo, 2006). Since research studies have indicated that education is important for all children even during wars, it is therefore pertinent to understand how the various factors interplay to impact the right to education for all children. This qualitative study was conducted using the phenomenological approach. Husserl (1946) noted that life experiences are subjective therefore provides a rich context for different perspectives of individuals. The current study delineated the concerns of parents regarding the education of children during and after war. The population of the study comprised of 15 African immigrants and refugee parents who experienced armed conflict along with their children but currently resided in North Texas. Based on a semi structured interview format, data collection was accomplished through in-depth face-to-face interviews. All interviews were transcribed word-for-word. The researcher used the Giorgi's model of phenomenological analysis (1985) to compress the data while retaining the crux of understanding of participants' experiences or phenomena. Findings in the current study, suggested that children did not attend schools during the war because parents had concerns about the children's security. The insecurity of parents in regards to their children seemed related to the vulnerabilities of the children relevant to the war experiences. Such vulnerabilities included kidnapping by rival forces and being made soldiers, shrapnel wounds, and death. Parents' decision to keep children from school was reinforced by school closures, the fallen education standards, and lack of logistics to sustain meaningful schooling. Children experienced trauma that went unaddressed by the school authorities prior to and after a return to school. Children suffered rampant diseases from malnutrition, sanitation problems, injuries, and lack of medical logistics that kept them from schools whenever they reopened. A conclusion could be drawn that wars affect all aspects of child development domains more so in physical growth, social, cognitive, and emotional development. Therefore as a priority, school systems need to incorporate in their curricula therapeutic interventions for children who experienced war despite the severity of their experiences. The UN needs to be proactive in research data gathering on children during ongoing wars by the establishment of "research zones" committed to collecting research data on the physical, mental and social wellbeing of children during war times. Such data must include state of education in the region, crimes of war against children, injuries, deaths, and other issues related to war that affect children.