In development policy, community participation has increasingly come to be seen as a way to encourage community interest, involvement, ownership and ultimately, sustainability of projects. Education has also been affected by this discourse. The following paper examines two countries affected by conflict (Pakistan and Yemen), asking what type of community participation is possible in areas with complex conflict situations, since 'community participation' demands some form of 'democracy'. The conflict scenario and the locus of control and power in these countries is analysed in two rural areas, the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan and Marib Govemate of Yemen. Finally, the paper questions what type and degree of community participation is possible in education and whether it can become a catalyst for peace, or an indirect mechanism for power elites to control decision-making.