Olympism in practice: an evaluation of the effectiveness of an Olympism education programme to resolve conflicts between primary school students in Sri Lanka
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Societies divided by brutal conflicts require possible ways to reconstruct their peaceful societies. As a nation that is divided by an ethnic conflict that spanned almost three decades, Sri Lanka urgently requires an ongoing peace process. High quality education for the younger generation can provide the positive force for generating peace and preventing from future conflicts. This study investigated how Olympism education could strengthen conflict resolution competencies among primary students in ethnically divided societies in Sri-Lanka. This research examined the initiatives first by coming across the impact of education in promoting peace among Sri Lankan primary students. Secondly, the study provided an explanation for the potential of Olympism in conflict resolution and promoting peace among Sri Lankan primary students. The study introduced an integrated model of Olympism values and conflict resolution strategies, and this program was trialed in two primary schools one each of the two main ethnic groups of Singhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. A mixed method approach was used and data was collected using surveys and interviews. In each school, there was one group that was taught the programme and was the experimental group, and there was a control group not taught the programme. The pre and post-test survey data from all students in the control and experimental groups were analysed according to four hypothesises using Analysis of Variance. The interviews of 16 students from the experimental group from both schools were analysed thematically and contributed data about students’ perspectives. This study aimed to discover possible unifying factors and attain a more holistic view about the nexus of Olympism, physical education and conflict resolution. Considering the effects of the intervention, the most notable finding of this study was that conflict resolution and Olympism education integrated curriculum intervention significantly improved experimental group students’ conflict resolution competencies. It was also found that students’ conflict resolution competencies improved regardless of their gender or ethnicity. The experimental group students also had an increase in Olympism competencies. The competencies that students had the greatest change were related to physical, social, critical and conflict resolution literacy. The findings from the interviews supported the stages of Mezirow’s Transformative Learning theory. This research concluded that strategically designed and carefully managed Olympism lessons could help students to develop and enhance competencies of conflict resolution.