Epicenter: March 2015

Dryden-Peterson, Sarah. 2011. Refugee Education: A Global Review. UNHCR - Refugee Education: A Global Review. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 95. Publisher's Version Abstract

The provision of educational opportunities is one of the highest priorities of refugee communities. Refugee mothers, fathers, and children the world over emphasise that education is “the key to the future,” that it will help bring peace to their countries, that despite not knowing “what will happen tomorrow,” education brings stability and hope. Access to education is a basic human right and is linked to poverty reduction, holding promises of stability, economic growth, and better lives for children, families, and communities. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognised compulsory primary education as a universal entitlement. The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (United Nations, 1979) called for no discrimination in educational provision for men and women, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) affirmed the right of all children, regardless of status, to free and compulsory primary education, to available and accessible secondary education, and to higher education on the basis of capacity (United Nations, 1989, Article 28). The right to education for refugees is articulated in Article 22 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, resolution 64/290 (July 2010) of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly on the right to education in emergencies (United Nations, 2010a), and in the draft resolution to the Human Rights Council on the right to education for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers (June 2011) (United Nations, 2010b).

Dryden-Peterson, Sarah. 2009. Barriers to Accessing Primary Education in Conflict-Affected Fragile States. Final Report. Save the Children International. Save the Children. Publisher's Version Abstract

Current educational policy and practice are failing the 77 million out-of-school children globally, 41 million of whom live in conflict-affected fragile states (CAFS). This research seeks to identify the factors affecting access to primary education for children in CAFS and to define the mechanisms by which certain factors act as barriers. It does so through a comprehensive review of the literature and field-based case studies of access barriers in Afghanistan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of the literature describes approaches to increasing access that address supply- and demand-side solutions separately. This study suggests the need to integrate supply- and demand-side thinking on both access barriers and the interventions designed to overcome them. The paper will recommend existing and promising practices that, within a framework of intersecting barriers, could become viable solutions to expanding primary school access in CAFS.

Dryden-Peterson, Sarah, Elizabeth Adelman, Vidur Chopra, and Bethany Mulimbi. 2014. “Exploring the Links Among Universal Education and Good Governance.” Brookings Institution. Publisher's Version Abstract

This week, the Global Partnership for Education meets in Brussels with the hope of raising $3.5 billion for the education of the world’s most marginalized children. The countries furthest from Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are settings of fragility. These countries have traditionally been challenged to attract funding, with overseas development assistance (ODA) channeled primarily toward “good performers” with strong records of good governance. The assumption has been that investment in education is only wise once good governance has been established.

The Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) new investment strategy, however, turns this assumption on its head. The number of fragile states funded by GPE, for example, grew exponentially, from 1 in 2003 (when GPE was called the Fast Track Initiative) to 22 in 2013. Can investment in education strengthen governance? The GPE’s investment suggests a belief in this pathway. What does the evidence say?

A Dynamic Relationship

Today at the GPE replenishment meetings in Brussels, director of the Brookings Center for Universal Education Rebecca Winthrop will present our exploratory analysis of the connections between universal education and good governance. We have found unmistakable relationships between universal education and good governance. The direction and strength of these relationships, however, remain murky. Does good governance lead to universal education? Does universal education lead to good governance? The answer, in both cases, is likely yes.

The direction of causality is still uncertain, but our exploratory analyses show a stronger relationship between high levels of education in the mid-1990s and good governance in recent years than vice versa.

It appears that there are multiple relationships between universal education and good governance, and that they may be cyclical and mutually reinforcing. Of particular interest are the characteristics of education systems and the content of education, which may mediate the effects of universal education on governance.

How Might Education Improve Governance?

Overall, we see the potential of universal education—for which we use primary net enrollment and primary survival rates as proxies—to act on three elements of governance: voice and accountability, control of corruption, and political instability and violence. These are the three elements of the World Bank’s Good Governance Indicators that we find to be most relevant to education. Across these domains, there are three key mechanisms by which universal education might promote good governance:

  1. The development of a more informed citizenry promotes voice and accountability. Education can be essential for citizens to access and act on information. The ability to access information relates not only to literacy rates; it also relates to other school-acquired knowledge required to comprehend and analyze information and to act civically. For example, math skills allow citizens to understand if their schools are being cheated out of funds, and general knowledge of a political system enables citizens to understand how best to influence it.
  2. The socialization into norms, including attachment to the state, helps control corruption. Education socializes citizens. It can do so in ways that lead both toward and away from good governance. It can lead people to feel greater attachment to the nation state. This greater attachment brings with it greater expectations for honest government, which is associated with increased state capacity, or strong institutions. These strong institutions are less likely to exhibit corruption (and they also feed back into strengthening education). On the other hand, the content of education can serve to distance citizens from the nation state: curriculum can reveal explicit or subtle discrimination toward particular ethnic, religious, or political groups and can increase social distance between diverse groups, while rationalizing or reproducing intergroup grievances. In this way, education can build greater mistrust within government institutions thereby perpetuating weak governance.
  3. Increases in economic equality can reduce political instability and violence. Education can lead to greater productivity, which in turn can create conditions for economic equality. Greater economic equality leads back into more demand for education, which in turn leads to stronger demands on the state by more citizens and decreased elite power, resulting in lowered corruption. Greater economic equality is also associated with political stability and lack of violence. Unequal access to education or lack of access to quality education, however, does not increase economic equality.

Not All Universal Education Is Created Equal

Across all three mechanisms, the nature of both the structure of education systems and content of teaching and learning are critical. In particular, education that is inclusive and relevant may have positive effects on governance, while education that alienates or marginalizes individuals and groups or that lacks relevance to the aspirations and possible livelihoods of students may have negative effects on governance. For example, the content and skills about which a citizenry is “informed” through education determine whether and how individuals have voice, seek accountability and counter corruption. Similarly, the inclusivity and relevance of the norms into which citizens are socialized appear to form a dividing line between strong and weak governance. Further, increases in economic equality by definition reflect inclusion so that all citizens can have voice, seek accountability, counter corruption, and work to support rule of law and against political instability and violence.

Overall, in our exploratory analyses, we see stronger correlations between governance indicators and education indicators in the mid-1990s than we do now. An important difference between these two times periods may be the quality of universal education. There is clear evidence that remarkable progress in increasing access to education since 2000 has often happened at the expense of quality. Indeed, not all universal education is created equal. Does the weaker correlation between universal education and good governance more recently reflect tangible differences in the quality of education? A research agenda going forward should be focused on determining the content and structures of education that are most likely to produce pathways to good governance.

Educating Children in Conflict Zones: Research, Policy, and Practice for Systemic Change, A Tribute to Jackie Kirk

“Injustice anywhere upsets me deeply. Too many children living in conflict face the great injustice of being denied their right to education. This book captures the voices of children and teachers in their craving for a better world. Education is the key to that world. Inspiring and refreshing, this book is hopeful. Its new ideas give promise to children living in conflict for the chance at a quality education, a better future, and lives of peace.”
 —Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Inspired by the work of the late Dr. Jacqueline Kirk, this book takes a penetrating look at the challenges of delivering quality education to the approximately 39 million out-of-school children around the world who live in situations affected by violent conflict. With chapters by leading researchers on education in war and other conflict zones, the volume provides a comprehensive and critical overview of the links between conflict and children’s access to education, as well as a review of the policies and approaches taken by those offering international assistance in this area. Empirical case studies drawn from diverse contexts—Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda (among others)—offer readers a deeper understanding of the educational needs of these children and the practical challenges to meeting these needs.

In the context of Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), global movements for expanded access to education have focused on primary education. In refugee situations, where one-quarter of refugees do not have access to primary school and two-thirds do not have access to secondary school, donors and agencies resist supporting higher education with arguments that, at great cost, it stands to benefit a small and elite group. At the same time, refugees are clear that progression to higher levels of education is integrally connected with their future livelihoods and future stability for their regions of origin. This paper examines where higher education fits within a broader framework of refugee education and the politics of its provision, with attention to the policies and priorities of UN agencies, NGOs, national governments, and refugees themselves.

Dryden-Peterson, Sarah. 2011. “Education as Livelihood for Refugee Children: Emergency, Protracted, and Urban Experiences.” Educating Children in Conflict Zones: Research, Policy, and Practice for Systemic Change, A Tribute to Jackie Kirk, 85-99. New York: Teachers College Press. Website Abstract

Inspired by the work of the late Dr. Jacqueline Kirk, this book takes a penetrating look at the challenges of delivering quality education to the approximately 39 million out-of-school children around the world who live in situations affected by violent conflict. With chapters by leading researchers on education in war and other conflict zones, the volume provides a comprehensive and critical overview of the links between conflict and children’s access to education, as well as a review of the policies and approaches taken by those offering international assistance in this area. Empirical case studies drawn from diverse contexts - Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda (among others) - offer readers a deeper understanding of the educational needs of these children and the practical challenges to meeting these needs. This inspiring collection:

  • Extends the legacy of the work that Jacqueline Kirk passionately pursued in her lifetime.
  • Includes several pieces of Jackie’s writings plus new chapters from preeminent scholars in the field of education in conflict.
  • Focuses on lessons that can be learned from the views of children and educators on the ground.
  • Introduces cutting-edge approaches to field research, including impact evaluation and the use of photo-narrative.
  • Presents promising policy developments and pioneering programs that are making a difference in the lives of children affected by conflict.
Mundy, Karen, and Sarah Dryden-Peterson. 2011. “Educating Children in Zones of Conflict: An Overview and Introduction.” Educating Children in Conflict Zones: Research, Policy, and Practice for Systemic Change, A Tribute to Jackie Kirk, 1-12. New York: Teachers College Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

Inspired by the work of the late Dr. Jacqueline Kirk, this book takes a penetrating look at the challenges of delivering quality education to the approximately 39 million out-of-school children around the world who live in situations affected by violent conflict. With chapters by leading researchers on education in war and other conflict zones, the volume provides a comprehensive and critical overview of the links between conflict and children’s access to education, as well as a review of the policies and approaches taken by those offering international assistance in this area. Empirical case studies drawn from diverse contexts - Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and Uganda (among others) - offer readers a deeper understanding of the educational needs of these children and the practical challenges to meeting these needs. This inspiring collection:

  • Extends the legacy of the work that Jacqueline Kirk passionately pursued in her lifetime.
  • Includes several pieces of Jackie’s writings plus new chapters from preeminent scholars in the field of education in conflict.
  • Focuses on lessons that can be learned from the views of children and educators on the ground. Introduces cutting-edge approaches to field research, including impact evaluation and the use of photo-narrative.
  • Presents promising policy developments and pioneering programs that are making a difference in the lives of children affected by conflict.
Dryden-Peterson, Sarah. 2011. “Conflict, Education, and Displacement.” Conflict and Education 1 (1): 1-5. Website Abstract

Children make up half of people forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict. The impacts of this conflict-included displacement on education are immense. This essay focuses on five urgent challenges for education in these settings, including barriers to access, the protracted nature of displacement, urban displacement, physical integration without social integration, and the search for quality. Three central ideas emerge from these challenges as priorities for future research: the need for comprehensive data on access to and quality of education for refugee and IDP children in order to understand the context-specific nature of general challenges; the use of “integration” as a guiding concept for education in displacement, specifically investigation of the social implications of physical integration; and the role of education as a portable durable solution for displaced children, including implications for curriculum, pedagogy, and post-primary opportunities.

Fernando M. Reimers

Fernando M. Reimers

Faculty Associate. Ford Foundation Professor of International Education; Director, International Education Policy Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Research interests: International and comparative education; instructional improvement in high-poverty schools; democratic citizenship education; and educational innovation and social entrepreneurship.

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Jennifer Leaning

Jennifer Leaning

Faculty Associate. Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

Research interests: Medical human rights and international humanitarian law; humanitarian crises and public health practice; civilian protection and human security in conflict settings; and environmental effects of war.

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