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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Logan Abassi ©

Education and Fragility

Education is a powerful tool that when designed and implemented well can help a society emerge from conflict towards peace and stability. Schools and classrooms can provide the space in which people of different origins are brought together and taught how to live and work together peacefully.

However, the dynamics in fragile contexts – poor governance, violence, repression, corruption, inequality, and exclusion – can negatively impact the quality of learning that children and youth experience in the classroom and further entrench inequity, division, discrimination, and structural violence along religious, cultural, ethnic, or linguistic lines.

Education’s potential to either mitigate or exacerbate conflict and fragility is a result of nuanced interfaces between education policies, planning, and programming and the drivers and dynamics of conflict and fragility. An understanding of these conditions is critical to ensure that education, at a minimum, does no harm and, at its best, contributes to conflict prevention and long-term peace building.


Key Activities

Working Group on Education and Fragility

In 2008, INEE formed the Working Group on Education and Fragility (WGEF) as an inter-agency mechanism to coordinate four areas of work during 2008-2011:

  • Strengthen the evidence base on education and fragility
  • Engage with national and regional stakeholders
  • Determine effective modalities to support the financing of education in fragile contexts
  • Advocate for policy change

Aligned with INEE’s strategic plans, the WGEF was renewed twice to continue its work for the periods 2011-2014 and 2015-2017. For more information about the activities and outputs of the various iterations of the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility, please see the 2008-2011, 2011-2014, and 2014-2017 webpages. In 2016, this working group altered its focus and began functioning as the INEE Education Policy Working Group.

Conflict Sensitive Education Pack

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). The CSE Pack includes the resources described below.

Learn more about the CSE Pack and INEE’s work in this area on the Conflict Sensitive Education webpage.

High-Level Symposium and Declaration on Conflict Sensitive Education, Paris

On 9 April 2013, INEE and UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) organized a High-Level Symposium in Paris in order to bring together around 200 education stakeholders to discuss the challenges of providing quality education in conflict-affected contexts, and to offer concrete recommendations to promote the implementation of conflict-sensitive education. Click to watch a video summary of the High-Level Symposium. The video is set to the music of Peter Yarrow who performed in an event at the close of the symposium.

Participants endorsed by acclamation the Paris Symposium Declaration that calls for the prioritization of conflict sensitive education in conflict affected and fragile contexts. The Declaration calls for the prioritization of conflict sensitive education that promotes a common framework to provide quality education to children, youth, and adults affected by violence and armed conflicts. ​The Declaration encourages the adoption of the INEE Guiding Principles and the use of the INEE Conflict Sensitive Education Pack.

International Symposium on Education, Fragility and Conflict, Paris

The International Symposium on Education, Fragility and Conflict, held at Sciences Po University in Paris on 8 April 2013, was a joint initiative of the University of Newcastle Australia, the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po, and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Working Group on Education and Fragility, and was supported by a grant from the University of Newcastle Australia.

The symposium brought together academic research and practice in the area of education, fragility, and conflict, and provided a platform for reciprocal learning, the exchange of ideas, and knowledge-building in this crucial subfield of educational development. The symposium aimed to create and sustain strong bonds between the academic community and the practitioner community within international aid, through Paulo Freire’s notion of praxis, which involves reflecting critically and acting meaningfully on the world in order to change it.

Symposium at 12th UKFIET International Conference

At the 12th UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development in September 2013, UNESCO-IIEP and INEE held a joint symposium entitled “Rebuilding resilience in a changing world: Conflict and crisis sensitive approaches to planning and programming for education systems”. Senior policymakers, together with development partners, discussed how crisis-sensitive planning can be effectively integrated into education systems.

During session 1 of this joint symposium, representatives from the Ministries of Education of South Sudan, Haiti and Palestine shared their experiences with planning for the crises affecting their countries. Following this, agencies such as DFID, IIEP, INEE and UNICEF presented the different methodologies they have developed in support of conflict and crisis sensitive planning and programming in education. The final session brought together the two earlier panels, to reflect, discuss and debate the issues presented. For more information, read the synthesis report on this joint symposium.

Roundtable Discussion: Health and Education in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Contexts – Bridging the Development Gap and Enhancing Collaborations

The INEE Education and Fragility Working Group organized a roundtable on 31 May 2013, at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Washington, DC. The objective was to identify the gaps in collaboration and possible types of collaboration between the health and education sectors around state and peace building in conflict-affected and fragile contexts in the post-2015 world.

Education and health can play a critical role in supporting state and peace building in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. A country that has ten percentage points more of its youth in schools cuts risk of conflict by four percentage points (Collier, 2006). Similarly, reduced child mortality, a stable demographic pattern and strong medical labour force can support stabilization and address causes of fragility. Education and health interventions are often divided due, among others, to funding restrictions, and yet in most cases collaborative efforts are required to support the psychosocial wellbeing of the population, the prevention of violence, and the full development of children and youth.

Beyond the experiences of two distinct sectors, how can the education and health sectors collaboratively address the challenges posed by conflict-affected and fragile contexts in the post-2015 world? How can they work together to strengthen state- and peace building processes in these contexts? And how can they collaborate to effectively influence donors to prioritise funding to both sectors individually, as well as combined health and education projects and programmes, in conflict-affected and fragile contexts?

The roundtable final report identifies possible collaborative efforts such as joint research and cost-benefit, cross-sectorial models to strengthen state building and peace building that may also inform policy discussions on the post-2015 agenda.

Situational Analyses on Education and Fragility using the Analytic Framework on Education and Fragility (2009-2011)

Between 2009-2011, the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility commissioned four country case studies, or analyses of situations of education and fragility, in Afghanistan (conducted by IIEP/UNESCO), Bosnia-Herzegovina (conducted by the University of Ulster), Cambodia, and Liberia (both conducted by INEE) - with the the intent to provide key data needed to better understand the relationship between education and fragility in a variety of contexts. The four countries were selected to encompass a range of different types and stages of fragility, with diverse historical antecedents and locations across different geographical areas.

A comprehensive synthesis report, published in 2011, presents the findings of the case studies and, through comparisons guided by various analytic frameworks, generates insights and recommendations for policy and programming, as well as identify possible areas for further research.

  • Afghanistan - By Morten Sigsgaard, UNESCO-IIEP - This study analyzes the formidable challenges that education actors face in Afghanistan, such as security threats from the Taliban, the opium economy, ineffective aid distribution, and government corruption.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina - By Clare Magill, University of Ulster - This study examines Bosnia and Herzegovina after the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in 1995, which made the task of educational reform exceptionally challenging.
  • Cambodia - by INEE - This study presents an analytic narrative of historical and current fragility in Cambodia, while specifically considering how education has been affected by fragility.
  • Liberia - by INEE - This study considers the impact that fragility has had on education and how education played a major role in the historic patterns of exclusion and marginalization in Liberia.

Consultative Workshops on Education and Fragility

A series of Consultative Workshops on Education and Fragility, based on the analytical framework suggested in the synthesis report, were held in 2010-2011, to reach out and gain wider perspectives on the framework from a range of stakeholders. These are the final reports:

Key Resources

Essential Resources on Education and Fragility

INEE Guidelines and Tools

Working Group Papers and Reports

Policy Reports on Education and Fragility

Education and Fragility Newsletter

The INEE Education and Fragility Newsletter was published between 2012-2014 and contained information and resources of interest and relevance to those working on education in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, and updates on activities of the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility and its member agencies. See past editions here:

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