College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Unisan shares peace education framework at the African Union

In an inspiring move towards promoting peace through education, Prof Ashley Gunter, from the Department of Geography in Unisa’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), has made significant strides in the field of peace education.


Dr ‘H’ Patten (The Open University), Dr Manu Lekunze (University of Aberdeen), Prof Ashley Gunter (University of South Africa) and Prof Parvati Raghuram (The Open University) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As part of the Decolonising Peace Education in Africa (DEPA) initiative launched in 2020, Gunter has been at the forefront of research that delves into the intricate relationship between peace and education. The DEPA project, a collaboration between universities in the United Kingdom (UK) and Africa, aims to explore and redefine the concept of "Education for Peace" within the African context.

Under Gunter's leadership, pivotal research was conducted in South Africa and Zambia, with further involvement in Uganda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This research has been instrumental in securing over R4 million in funding for Unisa, underscoring the international community's recognition of its importance and potential impact.

One of the most groundbreaking aspects of Gunter's research is the emphasis on the use of audio and visual tools to interpret and understand peace. His work on soundscapes — the auditory environments of communities during times of peace and conflict — provides invaluable insights into the early indicators of conflict, offering a proactive approach to peacekeeping and conflict resolution.


Prof Ashley Gunter, from the Department of Geography in Unisa's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

The culmination of this extensive research has led to the development of a comprehensive peace education framework. This framework, co-developed with UK colleagues, including Prof Parvati Raghuram and Dr 'H' Patten, both from the Open University, and Dr Manu Lekunze from the University of Aberdeen, has garnered international attention. The team was honoured with an invitation to present their findings and policy recommendations to the African Union Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia, marking a significant milestone in the project's journey.

The presentation comes at a crucial time, as 2024 has been declared the "Year of Education" by the African Union, highlighting the timeliness and relevance of the DEPA project's contributions. With the successful presentation, Gunter is now poised to extend the application of the DEPA framework to countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and continue his pioneering work on decolonising education.

This initiative not only marks a significant achievement for Unisa and Gunter, but also sets a precedent for how educational frameworks can be leveraged to foster peace and security across the continent and beyond.  

* Submitted by the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

Publish date: 2024/03/04

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