Research Areas of Focus
As of January 2000, there are three key areas of focus for research within
the IPT - conflict management and safety in schools; transformation of
police services; and local government and traditional leaders.
Local Government and Traditional Leaders
In the transition to a democratic society one of the most critical and
explosive sources of conflict is the relationship between
constitutionally-based local government structures and culturally-based
traditional government. Prejudices and misconceptions about traditional
systems or misjudgments about the feasibility of cooperative governance
can breed conflict and misunderstandings . This can be further compounded
by poor policies that act on those prejudices and misunderstandings.
Despite the volatility and high level of debate surrounding the role of
traditional systems in the new' South Africa, this is a subject that
Systematic research into the tensions that exist between local governments
and traditional authorities along with an analysis of models of cooperative
governance can aid the democratic transition by encouraging the peaceful
management of conflict in this volatile area. Much of the civil war that
has raged between political parties and communities in KwaZulu-Natal is
over the distribution of power and competencies between traditional and
local forms of government. Since traditional governments were encouraged,
reinforced and sometimes constructed by the former apartheid government,
traditional leaders have faced challenges to their legitimacy by civics
organisations, political parties and others. Violence, mass action, and
tribal resistance have arisen in this context in various parts of the
country but particularly the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Thus,
information that can assist in building cooperative democracy can both
directly aid the target community of Port Shepstone and assist other
communities with similar problems both within and outside the province.
Monitoring and Evaluating Conflict Resolution Interventions in
the Education Environment
Since 1995 IPT has been providing training in basic conflict management
and mediation skills to both teachers and students in the schools along
with interested parents and members of the school's governing body. We
provide communication skills, assertiveness training, build
cooperative behaviour, and advance a system called peer mediation.
A second research agenda is to monitor the progress of our skills training
programmes to determine their degree of success and to critically examine
our approach and methods. We would like to determine the kinds and levels
of conflict that exist in the schools before IPTs involvement and then to
examine the effect of our material, workshops and training sessions. This
will require in-depth interviews and questionnaires aimed at governing
bodies, teachers, and students both in the schools where IPT intends to
work [before] and where it has already worked [after]. This
research will also assist in the planning of peace education materials.
The needs of teachers must be formally assessed to ensure that IPT is
creating texts and materials that can sustain these programmes as part of
the curricula after the IPT has completed its work in the schools.
Aside from IPT's two major research programmes outlined above, the IPT
monitors and collects data on a large number of peace-related themes.
- Managing Civil Society Transformation
- The Democratisation Process in South Africa
- Cross-Cultural Cooperation and Conflict
- The Geography of No-Go Areas' in KwaZulu-Natal
- Indigenous Culture and Traditional Leaders
- Education in Conflict Resolution
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