Teachers as agents of peace? Exploring teacher agency in social cohesion in Pakistan

Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, Karachi; Office of the Provost


This paper studies an under-researched area – teachers’ role in peacebuilding in conflict-affected contexts – through exploring teacher agency for social cohesion in Pakistan. Insights are sought into teachers’ perspectives on the major drivers of conflict in society and the role of education and teachers in social cohesion and mitigating inequities in education. A 4Rs framework of redistribution, recognition, representation and reconciliation was employed to analyse data gathered from: interviews with and classroom observations of teacher educators; focus-group discussions with and a questionnaire completed by pre- and in-service teachers; and analysis of teacher education and school curriculum texts. While teachers expressed a nuanced understanding of the conflict drivers in society and appreciated the significance of education in peacebuilding, they subscribed to assimilationist approaches to social cohesion, which were aligned with curriculum texts and promoted official nation-building agendas. Additionally, teachers saw issues of social cohesion as peripheral to the core academic curriculum. Teachers’ identity was integrally linked to their religious affiliations.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education