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Using data to understand and design for the two way relationship between conflict or crisis and education: two tools from USAID and partners

Wed, April 17, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Bayview B

Group Submission Type: Refereed Round-Table Session


In crisis or conflict-affected settings, understanding, monitoring, and analyzing the two way relationship between education programs and the dynamics of conflict and crisis determines our ability to design an effective program that mitigates risks for students and teachers, which is a prerequisite to improving learning outcomes. Yet, the available tools in humanitarian or development contexts do not provide the data or analytical framework needed to understand how programs interact with a conflict or crisis; they tend to focus on defining and understanding discrete components of the conflict or crisis, like the needs of the population or the current or potential risks.

For example the Multi Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (IASC, 2015), sector specific needs assessments, situation reports, the 3Ws or security incident trackers examine or measure the nature of a crisis, the needs of people who are affected, and potential risks to programmatic success. In development settings the Education Sector Analysis, capacity assessments, administrative data on student enrollment, retention, and performance, and grade-specific literacy, math, and science assessments describe the need at the population or system level. Though these data can indicate what areas are accessible or most-affected, which students to target, what types of programs may be most relevant over time, and what outcomes to measure, they are not structured to help program designers look at the two-way relationship between a conflict or crisis and education programs, existing or proposed.

To respond to this gap USAID and partners produced two situation analysis and assessment tools that help adapt or design education policies and programs that interact with conflict or crisis in a way that maintains the safety of students and teachers and improves learning outcomes. These tools are: the Rapid Education and Risk Analysis (RERA) and the Safer Learning Environment Assessment (SLE).

The Rapid Education and Risk Analysis is a situational analysis that conceptualizes the education sector, learners, and their communities as a dynamic system of multiple contextual risks and assets. It investigates how contextual risks, such as violence, insecurity, natural hazards, and health pandemics, impact education; how education influences these risks; and how these risks influence each other. The central focus of this analysis is the school community and its sources of resilience.

The Safer Learning Environments Assessment assists program designers to identify and understand the nature and extent of specific risks to safety that exist in the learning environment (internal, external, or environmental) and any local strategies or assets that exist to overcoming those risks, in order to determine which additional specific approaches to risk mitigation may be needed.

The RERA methodology and toolkit launched in 2016. Since then it has been used in Mali (twice), Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo (twice), Afghanistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Senegal, and Bangladesh to inform programming. One major challenge to date has been shifting from programs designed in response to needs to programs designed as one component of a system in conflict or crisis. Despite using RERAs, sometimes it has been challenging to apply the data to programs in a way that is substantively different than other types of needs assessment.

The Safer Learning Environments Assessments was initially piloted in six countries in 2017 as a qualitative assessment only in El Salvador, Honduras, Somalia, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Philippines. The full toolkit has been piloted in 2018 in Bangladesh, Liberia, and Senegal. In Liberia and Senegal, program designers used the Safer Learning Environments Assessment as well as the RERA. The Safer Learning Environments Assessment is highly perspective and can also be used as a capacity-building tool for research or programming teams collecting and using data for program design or adaptation.

The toolkits have distinct, complementary uses, but both utilize the same primary data collection methodology. These toolkits, in particular, pay special attention to the situation of the school community as a system of assets and capabilities that make it a platform for social transformation.

This panel will feature organizations that used the Rapid Education and Risk Analysis and/or the Safer Learning Assessment in Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia in order to design a new program or revise an existing program accordingly. The panelists will speak to the findings, what challenged or confirmed previous thinking, and how they used that to adjust programming, as well as their experiences using these tools - what approaches or processes helped assure that these assessments provided data that were different than existing tools? What is their best advice for how to use these tools most efficiently or effectively? What does it take to staff and execute these assessments?

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