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9 July 2018
Education in emergencies was a central piece of the Second International Colloquium on Education and Development Cooperation: “Contexts, Challenges and Agendas” that took place in Porto in May 2018. This Colloquium was a two day initiative led by the Center for African Studies of the University of Porto and the Centre for Research and Intervention in Education (CIIE) and held at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Porto on the 25 and 26 May.
The Colloquium intended to raise critical reflection on the models and mechanisms of educational aid, not only from the perspective of the systematization of field experiences, but also in light of current international policies which convey other models and approaches for educational change at the national level.
Given the complexity of the field of education, aid and development, it’s crucial to (re)create research and action trajectories which may mobilize different actors in differentiated contexts – bilateral and international agencies, national and international NGOs, foundations, higher education institutions, local councils and consultancy agents. The idea was to challenge dominant paradigms and to highlight alternative approaches in global education policy, with a particular emphasis on approaches to fragile, post-conflict and emergency contexts.
The Colloquium was also an opportunity to listen to different actors working in the context of Portuguese Speaking Countries, but also in/from the Global South which illustrate different discourses and practices. With the intention to reinforce synergies and links between different actors and to critically reflect upon the role of Higher Education Institutions in the strategic area of international education and development.
The afternoon of Day I of the Colloquium was devoted to Education in Emergencies starting with Mario Novelli’s, University of Sussex, presentation as a keynote speaker on Education, Conflict and International Development, followed by Round Table (RT) “Education in Emergencies: concepts, principles and responses” and the presentation of the Portuguese translation of INEE CSE Pack and Ukraine Education Cluster experience on CSE capacity building.
After Mario Novelli sharing some insights about Education, Conflict and International Development interactions and influence on each other RT’s objectives were to reflect upon the main concepts and thematic areas within Education in Emergencies (EiE) and to interrogate practices and materials for training, dissemination and advocacy, and to examine specific EiE cases, especially education for refugees.
All the afternoon sessions were developed and performed with the support with a wide range of INEE members - including INEE Portuguese Language Community (PLC) members- and INEE secretariat staff who voluntarily gave their contribution by supporting logistics, giving inputs to the event concept note and, finally by accepting the invitation to present their experience and knowhow.
There are different types of emergencies: Natural disasters which include hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, cyclones, epidemics, floods, landslides and volcanoes, Man-made disasters, including civil or military unrest, war, occupation, economic crises, and Complex emergencies, which combine both natural and man-made emergencies. But some of the common elements is that they affect people, are triggered by a hazard, are directly related to vulnerability, often exceeds the capacity of household, community or a group of people to cope, and that social processes play an important role in coping, so that it has more to do with society than natural phenomena. It is also important to remember that in an emergency marginalisation often increases and already marginalised groups are further pushed away from essential services and the enjoyment of their rights.
One such group (with many sub-groups) are children and an essential, and in most cases life-saving, service is education. The definition of education in emergencies may therefore be the provision of quality education opportunities that meet the physical protection, psychosocial, developmental and cognitive needs of people affected by emergencies, and which can be both life-sustaining and life-saving. Because if there were no education then the risk of children and youth being neglected rises dramatically, they are vulnerable to harm and (sexual) exploitation, the psychosocial impacts are exacerbated by lack of safe spaces and opportunities for children to be with their peers, their cognitive and developmental needs are neglected, the likelihood of engaging in unsafe activities increases and the likelihood of dropping out of school increases and they are more vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups or armed forces. So the need for education in emergencies is very clear.
One response to this need has been the establishment of the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), who now has more than 14.000 members worldwide and is seen as a neutral voice in advocating for better funding to and more quality education in crisis, who tries to influence policy decisions around the world on these issues, not least connecting it to the Sustainable Development Goals, and who has coordinated a set global standards for emergency education, both for preparedness, response and recovery.
Why do we need standards? Well, hopefully they will help enhance the quality of education policy and programming, increase access to safe and relevant learning opportunities and ensure accountability in providing these services in all stages of emergency response. INEE has therefore produced the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook, based on a human rights framework, specifically the right to education, to life, and to non-discrimination. This handbook is available online and in 28 languages and it has been used in over 110 countries to strengthen education response, in some cases through a very rigorous contextualization process. The Handbook has 19 Standards, ordered into 5 Domains (qualitative and universal, applicable in any environment), with corresponding Key Actions (steps to be taken in order to reach/meet the standard), and Guidance Notes (good practice to consider when applying the minimum standards and adapting the key actions in different situations).
To make INEE MS a reality Education partners should consider them in conjunction with the operational framework used to respond to humanitarian crisis: the Humanitarian Program Cycle.
The foundational domain of INEE MS (Community participation, analysis and coordination) can be considered the conceptual conditions to assess the education needs of affected population, through their meaningful participation and contribution, converging in a coordinated, relevant and qualitative strategy addressing education gaps identified.
The technical domains of INEE MS (Access and learning environment, Teaching and learning, Teachers and other education personnel, Education Policies) are setting the conceptual minimum requirements to design the activities used in emergencies to make the education strategies a reality for the affected population.
As a first response quite often education partners strive to let children ACCESS education opportunities: provision of temporary learning spaces, back to school campaigns, non-formal or informal education provided through child friendly spaces are the most common education activities provided at the beginning of a crisis. The emphasis here is put on access to a protective environment to receive education (and this often it is also translated in inter-sector coordination for the provision of adequate water and sanitation infrastructures or the provision of food in school feeding programs or the referral pathways established to address specific protection or vulnerabilities cases to specialized services).
Quality of learning environment and methods of teaching are essential as well and QUALITY is tackled across the INEE MS related to access and learning environment as well as INEE MS related to teaching a learning practices. Quality of the tools, revised/adapted curricula, and competent teachers able to use child friendly methodology to teach those curricula, respecting language differences, cultural religious and societal minorities are all elements of qualitative operationalisation of INEE MS. For doing so it is essential to pay attention to the distressful situation where teachers teach and kids learn. That’s why psychosocial support for teachers and students as well as socio emotional learning constitute such an important element of the quality of education. Finally wheneducation partners recruit teachers in an emergency and support their capacity development they concurrently are working to STRENGTHEN THE EDUCATION AS A SYSTEM and therefore look into the INEE MS domains related to teachers and other personnel and the one related to the education policies especially considering the key roles local authorities play in preparing for the next crisis (in terms of planning and competencies).
This way is not free from challenges. Education in emergencies is always underfunded (receiving only 2,6% of humanitarian funds against the 4 % needed). Not all the humanitarian actors adopts the same approach in operationalizing INEE MS (there is a need for a unified competency framework that can also lead the way to professionalization of the sector). INEE MS should be always contextualized (and this is often a long process and especially in rapid onset time is lacking). INEE MS are not coming with a predefined system to monitor and evaluate their application (this may depend on the need to contextualize them, but also by the complexity of education as a system). Despite there is an increased production of evidence, a solid evidence-base to prove what works in education in emergencies is not yet available. In emergencies primary education is favoured while neglecting secondary and tertiary education (limitation in funding may be a reason, but a need for a more system-wide approach could be encouraged in operationalizing INEE MS). Finally: despite the protective role of education is emphasized and became more and more at the center of the EiE discourse, a more careful attention should be paid to provide education opportunities to the most vulnerable and marginalised.
Conflict sensitive education (CSE) means “understanding the context in which the education policy/programme takes place, analyzing the two-way interaction between the context and the education policy/programme, and acting to minimize negative impacts and maximise positive impacts of education policies and programming on conflict, within an organization’s given priorities” (adapted from Conflict Sensitivity Consortium).
In order to support the integration of conflict sensitivity in education policies and programs in conflict-affected and fragile contexts, INEE has developed a series of tools and guidance documents that make up the INEE Conflict Sensitive Education Pack (CSE Pack):
Seeking to foster CSE capacity building and implementation in Portuguese Speaking countries, a group of PLC members came together and worked together as volunteers to translate all the tools listed above. INEE supported the design of the tools which are know all available in Portuguese in INEE’s website.
To have hardcopies of the Manual and to disseminate it are the immediate next steps being prepared by PLC members aldo still missing the funds needed. Midterm steps include training and capacity building on CSE in Portuguese depending on funds available.
INEE acknowledges all PLC members engaged in this initiative contribution to the network.
As the devastating impact of violence and conflict on children worldwide is on the rise, the relevance of conflict sensitive education is also increasing. Ukraine is no exception as the conflict in the east is in a fourth year. Children are learning in schools with bullet holes in the walls and sandbags in windows, bomb shelters in the basements and shrapnel in school yards. Since the beginning of 2017, 50 schools have suffered damages from shelling, and another 30 have faced temporary closures from conflict. More than 220,000 children and teachers in schools around the frontline of the conflict are vulnerable to the ongoing violence.
What is the Ukraine Education Cluster doing to bring conflict awareness into the schools?
The Ukraine Education Cluster, along with the co-lead agencies UNICEF and Save the Children, are implementing safe school projects around the frontline, and delivering a training program on Conflict Sensitive Education to education officials, civil society and teacher training experts. Conflict sensitive education acknowledges the political and conflict dynamics to ensure education during conflict has the maximum positive benefits, while minimizing any negative outcomes. Educators in conflict zones learn conflict sensitive education to improve the quality of education during active conflict and ensure that the education process contributes to peace and social cohesion.
The Ukraine Education Cluster Capacity Development Program incorporates a conflict sensitive education (CSE) approach to educational policy, planning and implementation and supporting the strengthening of existing education systems, such as through the ongoing Ukrainian education reform. The program, made possible with Education Cannot Wait support, will also act to enhance policy and awareness on related issues such as the Safe Schools Declaration, and develop and deliver training on EiE and CSE. The trainings are delivered to education officials, teacher training experts, education program managers and civil society at national and local levels, on both sides of the contact line.
The cluster is taking a phased approach in supporting the development of a teacher training course on education in emergencies and conflict sensitive education. Teacher training experts who attend the trainings are using their new knowledge to develop the course, that will be first piloted in the east and made available to all teachers in Ukraine. June 21, 2018
A big thank you to all of you INEE members that brought such an amazing expertise and kindness to the event!