Education in the Conflict-Affected Moluccas: Local Tradition, Identity Politics and School Principal Leadership
The Moluccas were among the provinces devastated by communal conflict following the fall of the New Order regime in 1998. Peace-building activities were conducted after the violence subsided. The field research for this ethnographic study was conducted in the province from January to December 2009. The objective of the study was to examine the nature and impact of peace education projects supported by foreign agencies in selected schools in the province.
The findings show that suspicion and hatred between Muslim and Christian students remained intact in Schools 1, 2 and 3, despite the fact that they received a peace education intervention. In these schools, the peace education projects were framed within what was perceived as Moluccan local tradition. However, School 4 was able to mitigate the effects of the conflict and to nurture peace in the school, despite the fact that it did not receive a specifically tailored peace education intervention. Students of School 4 showed a strong preference for national identity, which encompasses religious and ethnic boundaries.
The study indicates that identity politics were at play in the form of the inclusion of what was perceived as Moluccan local tradition but the exclusion of other possibilities in the peace education curriculum, as the cases of Schools 1, 2 and 3 show. The study also shows that school principal leadership was prominent in helping to create a peaceful atmosphere, as the case of School 4 reveals.