Sunday, 16 February 2014

Responding to Emergencies with Education

How the Global Partnership for Education works in conflict-affected countries

By Joris van Bommel, GPE Secretariat
Unfortunately, the current situations in South Sudan and the Central African Republic do underline once more how important it is for the global community to provide greater and more effective support to education in fragile and conflict-affected states, including in emergency and early recovery situations. More than half of the world’s 57 million out-of-school children live in countries affected by emergencies or are in an early recovery phase.
It is imperative for the Global Partnership for Education to be ready and to be responsive, also in these situations.  Although fragile contexts vary enormously in their characteristics, they present specific challenges such as:

  • Issues of security can affect access to schools and communities and limit the implementation of education programs and make them more expensive. Insecurity can also expose schools, teachers and school children to violence and attacks;
  • Issues of governance may include unrecognized governments, political instability, accountability issues and corruption, situations where governments prohibit access to populations or where there is a civil war;
  • Issues of capacity like the inability to collect and analyze data to make sound policy decisions or to develop, implement and report on sector plans and programs. The capacity of development partners in the  country  may also vary;
  • Issues around coordination and donor policies: It is important to ensure coherent, coordinated support, get donors to finance programs; have development partners remain operational.
The Global Partnership’s support is adjusted to the context and contributes to building capacity and to capitalizing on the potential of education to reduce conflict and building stability. Last year, we made some good progress to improve our readiness to support fragile and conflict-affected states.
Watch an interview with Alice Albright about GPE’s work in conflict situations:

GPE’s Operational Framework for Effective Support to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States

At the end of 2013, the GPE Board approved an Operational Framework for Effective Support to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States (PDF). This Operational Framework adapts GPE processes to better respond to country emergencies.  The objective is to provide clear guidance to the partnership to ensure efficient support in these situations.

Accelerated Support in Emergency and Early Recovery Situations

The GPE Board also approved the Guidelines for Accelerated Support in Emergency and Early Recovery Situations (PDF). This helps to bridge emergency interventions with long-term development activities. It also helps to mobilize additional funding for education during early recovery situations and emergencies. GPE can provide up to 20 % of the amount available for a country as accelerated funding if an emergency or recovery situation arises.

Support to Somalia, Yemen and the Central African Republic

In November 2013, GPE granted $3.7 million to the Central African Republic to address urgent education needs in this conflict-affected country. The focus will be on restarting the national education system through repairing and equipping schools and supporting community-funded teachers, which will reduce parents’ contributions.

Also for (South Central) Somalia accelerated support has been approved by the Global Partnership to ensure a timely start of the current school year, while a GPE education grant has been given to support the training of 1,000 newly recruited teachers in South Central Somalia, develop a system for teacher salary payments and provide incentive payments for teachers with particularly low salaries. Important to mention that also Somaliland and Puntland received funding from GPE to implement their transitional educations plans. For the whole of Somalia $14.5 million has been made available.
Another example in this context is Yemen. About $10 million of Yemen’s $82.6 million grant for the implementation of their education plan is being used to help improve children’s schooling in emergency-affected areas. In less than 8 months, some 140 schools have been rehabilitated and will be provided in the beginning of 2014 with school supplies to be totally functional again.

Education and Humanitarian Aid: GPE’s Role?

Although we have made progress in our work in fragile countries, we are not yet there. There are more challenges ahead, particularly related to funding. Education in emergency situations remains severely underfunded. In 2012, education accounted for only 1.4 percent of humanitarian aid, down from 2.2 percent in 2009 and far below the needs of countries. The current figures from the Financial Tracking Service, which tracks global humanitarian aid flows, is not showing an improvement in 2013. The Global Partnership for Education, together with the Inter Agency Network for Education in Emergencies and other partners have to push for an increase of this percentage, ensure that these funds are used  effectively and improve coordination among governments, donors and humanitarian agencies.
A good resolution for 2014!

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