War devastates all who come in its path. The loss of military personnel, however, is often dwarfed by the civilian casualties. Often, the ordinary men, women, and children who have no stake in the conflict around them are victims caught in the crossfire. Beyond simple casualty numbers, the destruction to public property and even the damage to the psyche of those stuck in the battlefield can ensure that the effects of war are long-lasting. A key part of allowing generations to break out from this cycle of emotional turbulence perpetuated by the war is education. Unfortunately, educational programmes are expensive and a logistical nightmare. For them to be successful, the strong implementation from the State is required. However, the state mechanism in these post-conflict zones is hardly ever to the task. In a world hardly shorn of conflict, therefore, post-conflict education is an important issue we must attempt to address.
Some credit must be given to global organisations and relief efforts. Organisations under the umbrella of the United Nations often set up programmes to combat these issues. After all, universal education is seen by many as a human right that we must endeavour to guarantee. The issue with UN initiatives, however, is that they don’t last forever. Eventually, the volunteers withdraw from the conflict zones back to their homes. In these scenarios, as noted by Mohammad Kante of Northeastern University, “the people on the ground think they can’t keep going without the foreigners and the program collapses.”
Developing a self-sustainable model is not easy. However, there is still a lot we can do. For a start, how volunteers from abroad handle these programs must change. They must take up the responsibility of training their local counterparts to create a long-lasting system that will outlast their presence. In case of, say a school, this would mean that in addition to teaching classes themselves, volunteers should also have simultaneous programs that train more teachers. In fact, administrative training and management skills could be imparted to the locals, which would provide them with the necessary grooming required to take over these roles. The aftermath of war is hard enough with the sheer damage that has been caused. In these times of struggle, volunteering is a noble cause. Nobler still, however, is making those afflicted by the crisis independent and strong citizens that make up a fully functional society.