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Ulster University is partnering with Iraq-based Koya University on an innovative peacebuilding project designed to improve education in Iraq and other conflict-affected regions.

Education, Peace and Politics (EPP) is a joint venture funded by the British Academy and is already creating research networks to comprehensively study the barriers to education in Iraq, in the hope of better understanding challenges to learning in conflict-affected countries.

It is hoped that insight gathered from the project will help to inform socially just decision making in the education sector and support a foundation of adept education researchers for future studies in Iraq,

Given the history of conflict and ethnic-religious divides in Iraq, EPP seeks to play a role in building social cohesion from a grass roots perspective. Previous research has highlighted the need to focus on the classroom as a bedrock for tolerance and social cohesion in wider society.

The project will hold regular seminars and training sessions to provide academics working in the country with skills and knowledge to forensically study education. Members of the research groups will then propose research projects of their own as their skills and knowledge develop.

Professor Kelsey Shanks of Ulster University, who is a UNESCO Chair and co-founder of the EPP project said:

“I have been so impressed with the level of knowledge and dedication from our research groups so far. We have been hearing ideas for research proposals and I’m excited to see the work that our members will produce. We have a broad range of different skills and expertise so I’m confident that our ability to study education in all areas will be achieved.”

EPP co-founder Dr Sherko Kirmanj added:

“We are seeing some great results from our seminars – the dedication our members have to their studies is truly inspiring. Working together to share ideas and knowledge is what makes this project so necessary to improve educational attainment in Iraq and other countries impacted by war in the Middle East.”

EPP has now launched its website which will feature regular updates and publish research papers by members of the group.

Photo caption: EPP co-founder Dr Sherko Kirmanj holds a seminar for researchers in Koya, Kurdistan region of Iraq.