This study investigates the impact of different schooling dimensions (primary, secondary and tertiary) on the intensity of intra-state conflicts in 25 African states during the period 1989–2008. It uses fixed-effects and Generalized Methods of Moments (GMM) estimators in an annualized panel data framework. Parameter estimates suggest the following (1) primary schooling broadly mitigates conflicts in Africa. However, in environments with high natural resource rents, it could ignite conflicts; (2) there is evidence, although not overwhelming, that secondary schooling potentially drives conflicts in Africa. There is also evidence that urbanization potentially drives conflicts in Africa. However, although secondary schooling and urbanization potentially drives conflicts, in environments where secondary schooling (urbanization) is high, urbanization (secondary schooling) mitigates conflicts; (3) there is no evidence of a strong direct positive impact of tertiary education on conflicts and conditioning on tertiary schooling, income inequality potentially drives conflicts in African states. However, in contexts where income inequality (tertiary schooling) is high, tertiary schooling (inequality) mitigates conflict. Two important policy implications follow from this study. First, in contexts where income inequality is high (for instance, in South Africa), governments should strive to foster tertiary education in order to reduce conflict. Second, where urbanization rates are high, they should foster both secondary and tertiary education. This study contributes to existing knowledge by clearly demonstrating the utility of distinguishing between different educational dimensions and the contexts wherein they matter for conflict mitigation in Africa.
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