A special focus of the conference was set on social and political conflicts as they have a huge impact on education. The question how Protestant education might contribute to peace and stability was examined by experiences from South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Cameroon, Poland and Brazil.
Challenge A: Protestant Education in South Sudan
Because of the civil war, thousands of children have been interrupted from education in South Sudan since 2013. To restore and develop the school system and the education of the population, the approaches of constructing and rehabilitating primary schools, of developing and reviewing a primary educational curriculum and of providing “emergency education” in camps in areas affected by conflicts (2013-2017) and others are pursued.
Challenge B: Protestant Education in the Kivu Region
The recognition and legitimacy of Protestant schools in the Kivu Region have come a long way. Today, there are various Protestant schools. But because of the lack of a clear vision of Protestant education, these schools still face many challenges, like the focus on quantity rather than quality, the lack of qualified teachers and the gain-centered character of education. By focusing on a holistic and moral, spiritual, intellectual and social development, a new perspective is pursued: Christ-centered schools are emphasized, chaplaincy is empowered, learner-centered methodologies of teaching are used, learners’ competences are raised and trainings of teachers are forced.
Challenge C: The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon
By changing the form of state from federal to republic, the Anglophone zone of Cameroon was assimilated by manipulations of the government. Protests from the Anglophone part of the population resulted and led in October 2016 to a conflict including reactions of violence as militarization, the burning of schools and propaganda against Anglophones.
To overcome these conflicts, new perspectives that include a genuine, open and inclusive dialogue and an education of non-violent approaches are pursued.
Challenge D: Minority Conflicts in Poland
In Poland the Protestant population as well as Protestant Schools are a minority which has been marginalized by the catholic majority in different ways. Their experiences show that it needs a clear understanding of the own identity as well as an emphasis on similarities with the others. A Protestant education in the spirit of ecumenism and the involvement in society can pave the way to an integrated community.
Challenge E: The Tension between Poverty and Wealth as a Challenge for Protestant Education in Brazil
Brazil, a nation with 27 districts, faces many problems concerning the imbalance between poor and rich. The corruption is at a high rate, criminalities, unemployment, lack of insurance, overcrowded prisons, drug abuse, theft and rape are just some of the consequences.
As the government is not well equipped to handle these challenges, Protestant education has an important role. Shared values like mentioned in the Position Paper of GPENreformation are the basis for further developments.