Increased interaction with people of other ethnic groups may promote interethnic understanding and cooperation. Multi-ethnic schools provide an interesting setting to test this idea empirically. In this project, we work with two NGOs, Legacy International and Center Interbilim, to test if their peace education program called LivingSidebySide® fosters ethnic tolerance, resolves conflicts and promotes inter-ethnic cooperation among school-going youth in Kyrgyzstan.
Using schools as the unit of randomization, we hence test whether the program has impact beyond the group of students that will be treated. We will measure impacts for a range of outcome indicators at the individual and group level including knowledge, attitudes, norms and cooperative behavior towards other ethnic groups.
We expect that the direct impact, its sustainability and the extent of spillovers will differ across ethnic groups, gender and students from various socio-economic backgrounds. Using data from surveys, interviews, field experiments, focus group discussions and social networks we plan to unravel underlying mechanisms and shed light on how information travels.
This is one of the first studies that attempt to evaluate a peace education program using a rigorous design. If successful, the program could be scaled up to the national level and be potentially very influential in shaping Kyrgyzstan’s conflict prevention agenda. The results of our study are relevant for policy-makers in education and development, school governing boards, and development organizations working on peace education programs.
The project is a collaboration between several European research partners; it is funded by 3ie.