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In Event: Conflict Sensitive Education Series - Measuring Progress Appropriately: Indicators for Safe Learning Environments, Conflict Sensitivity, Access and Retention, and Program Adaptation
Numerous frameworks that guide how aid and development projects can be more adaptable or flexible in complex and fast-changing environments have been developed and piloted over the last decade. There are a few well known examples, such as Collaborate, Learn, Adapt (CLA) or adaptive management concepts which have recently been cited in USAID requests for proposals and task orders. Complexity Aware Monitoring, Developmental Evaluation, and Emergent Theories of Change also provide guidance for navigating unstable conditions, and pilot studies are underway. While the need for adaptive capacities among education projects in crisis and conflict settings appears intuitive, we don't yet know if existing frameworks can really make difference in aid and development effectiveness. What we do know is that the many hundreds of thousands of schools around the world in conflict-affected settings—a legacy of recent advocacy efforts to include education in emergency aid—offers an opportunity to explore if any of these frameworks can truly make a difference in the lives of the most marginalized and vulnerable children and youth.
The project presented here is a partner initiative between the USAID-supported Education and Crisis and Conflict Network steering committee and Social Impact, Inc. It is an ongoing attempt to develop performance, process, and design indictors that could tell us if education initiatives are flexible and adaptive enough in emergency and unstable settings so as to continue to serve the needs of pupils and teachers as conditions change. Indicator/Concepts for Adaptive Capacity is both a process and a set of indicators. The process has involved two steps so far. The first step involved Dr. Andrew Epstein and staff at Social Impact who outlined multiple frameworks both from within the aid and development field such as those mentioned above, and from outside the field, including business administration, neurobiology, gender studies, and statistics. From these frameworks, main concepts were derived that speak to how society, organizations, and organisms adjust and adapt.
The second step involved drawing from these concepts measurable performance, process, and design indictors that could potentially be used to design tools for use by donors, implementing partners, and community-based and civil-society organizations that can effectively guide the process of designing, contracting, budgeting, managing, and evaluating education activities that are resilient and agile in the face of war and disaster. Volunteers from other donors and organizations in the ECCN community were recruited to further examine and revise the concepts and indicators, and develop some draft tools for donors and implementing partners, the outcomes of which will be presented in this session. Our hope is that feedback from attendees will help initiate the third step of the process, which will be to further revise the tools and recruit donors and/or organizations willing to pilot them. Should the tools prove useful, later steps would be to upscale their use and study more rigorously their impact on aid and development effectiveness in crisis and conflict settings.