The role of education in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism in developing countries

Marlies Sas*, Koen Ponnet, Genserik Reniers, Wim Hardyns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Only since the beginning of this century, the prevention of radicalization has become an important topic in debates about terrorism and sustainable development in developing countries. Research has shown that radicalized individuals are not uneducated, but have often completed secondary or tertiary education. Additionally, it became clear that some extremist groups consider the school environment as an attractive recruitment place. These findings led to a new approach where the education sector is considered as a prominent partner in preventing and combating the radicalization of young individuals. In this article, the potential limitations of the role of the education sector in developing countries are exposed. Based on previous research, three bottlenecks in the education sector were found: unequal access to education, poor quality of education and the relationship between education and employment. In order to strengthen the role of education for sustainable development in developing countries, it is recommended that equal access to education is improved, that schools invest in the creation of safe spaces for their students, that not only secondary but also primary and tertiary education are involved in policy strategies regarding radicalization, and that the job market is adjusted to the educational level of graduated students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2320
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Developing countries
  • Education
  • Prevention
  • Radicalization
  • Violent extremism


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