The role of social media in peace education: a case study of Kampala District
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Recent studies have shown an influx of Ugandans embracing the use of social media in their daily communications and information seeking on various life aspects including peace education. Many government ministries, departments and agencies opened up a Twitter and Facebook account to improve communication with the public and encourage citizen participation and collaboration in finding solutions to the increased cases of violence in society. However, the results have not been visible to the public especially in Kampala District in past few years, there has been an endless record of violence and conflict within the district. It is against this background that the researcher sought to investigate the role that social media plays in peace education and how best it can be exploited to promote peace within Kampala district. On this note, the study explored the roles played by social media in peace education in Kampala district, established the measures that government and other stakeholders have put in place towards the use of social media in peace education, identified the challenges encountered in using social media in peace education, and suggested recommendations towards the use of social media in promoting and enhancing peace education. The study employed a qualitative research design approach involving use of questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions as the methods of data collection. Study findings revealed a number of roles played by social media in peace education in Kampala district and these included; facilitating: peace education campaigns, message/content sharing, debate/interaction on societal peacebuilding, e-learning training programs for peace education, audience and subject monitoring, easing access to online peace education tutorials, and enabling peace education. Some of the measures that Government and other stakeholders have put in place towards the use of social media in peace education in Kampala district include capacity building trainings in social media use, improved access to internet connectivity, affordable internet services, activating global virtual peacebuilding training programs, and supporting institutions towards effective peace education with social media. Whereas many peace educators labored to use social media in peace media, their efforts were hampered by many challenges including; social media information overload, unsolicited information, contextual relevance, colloquial usage and intentional misspelling, credibility of the information, exposure to inappropriate materials, social media tax (OTT), and Facebook suspension in Uganda. The study recommended engagement of key players in implementation of peace education interventions at various societal, institutional and government levels.