10.6 Necessary Condition: Access to and Delivery of Education

10.6.1 What is access to and delivery of education? Why is it a necessary condition?

Education is a basic right, recognized by many international conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.678 Access to and delivery of education is a condition in which every child receives primary education, even in times of war and without regard to ethnicity, gender, or location. This condition also includes access to higher education for advanced learning, development of professional skills, and nonformal education for youth and adults who may have never received or completed formal education.679 The continued delivery of education during and following violent conflict is particularly critical. There is a movement to include education as a “fourth pillar” of humanitarian response, along with food, health, and shelter.680 Education can help prevent the renewal of conflict by offering children and their families a source of stability and normalcy that can help them cope with conflict and its aftermath. It can provide children with a safe space and be the means for identifying affected children who need specific services. It can also inspire cultural and moral changes that transform sources of conflict and encourage peaceful coexistence, play a crucial role in promoting human and social capital, foster a sense of national identity, and fuel sustainable development and peace.681

10.6.2 Guidance for Access To and Delivery Of Education

10.6.3 Approach: System-Wide Development and Reform

System-wide development and reform of education involves meeting emergency needs for primary education while laying the foundations for a comprehensive and sustainable education system. Education development begins with bringing local and state authorities and civil society actors together to encourage dialogue; to empower and bestow legitimacy on local and national institutions; and to determine common goals in which education promotes peace, stability, and prosperity.682 Common effects of violent conflict on the education system include lower enrollment rates, destroyed facilities, shortages of teachers, lack of funding, sub-par standards and quality of education services, loss of state legitimacy and presence, and corruption.683 While needs assessments and emergency response come first,684 there may be no sharp distinction between the humanitarian phase and the reconstruction phase since they are undertaken at the same time.685

10.6.4 Use a “community-based participatory approach.” 686 To develop a quality and long-lasting education system, it is crucial that the community participates in every stage of the reforms, from assessment and planning to implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.687 Community participation in educational reforms can help build social cohesion and host nation ownership and ensure the education system’s long-term sustainability. Educational reform programs should use community members as teachers, establish community school boards, and train youth leaders. Often community members have already developed ways to continue education during conflict, including designing their own educational activities. This can be a basis for reform. Be aware, though, of the danger of local power politics hijacking the process and using it to increase the power of one group over the other.688

10.6.5 Assess the context-specific relationship between education and conflict. Education reform and development should be based on a complete overview and conflict analysis of the education system.689 Conflict analysis should be present in every aspect of planning, from emergency education to education system reform. It should provide a thorough understanding of the relationship, both positive and negative, between the education system and the conflict, focusing particularly on the role played by government involvement, curriculum, language, religion, and teachers and teaching methods. It should also evaluate the impact of the conflict on the education system, which is often devastating.690 Finally, conflict analysis should identify conflict reduction measures that can be included in a long-term, sustainable plan for education reform.691

10.6.6 Develop both a short-term plan for emergency action and a long-term plan for education reconstruction and development.692 While emergency education programs will likely be necessary, these programs should be embedded in a long-term strategy of systematic development and reform. The period following violent conflict offers a society the opportunity to reform its entire education system. Since this system can drive—and already may have driven—conflict, it is crucial to rebuild both the physical and human educational infrastructure in ways that promote peace.693 Prioritize the reconstruction of basic education,694 but also pay attention to the development of higher education, including secondary and tertiary education, and nonformal education, such as accelerated education (which condenses essential primary school classes into fewer years than the formal primary school system, thus allowing accelerated reentry), life skills training, and workforce development.695 See Section 9.7.17 for a discussion on human capital development. If programs are externally driven, plan for a transition to host nation authorities when capacities are sufficient; this is a critical step in developing government accountability and public perception of legitimacy.696

10.6.7 Insulate the education system from politics. Education systems can be manipulated to spread hatred and serve political agendas. For example, curriculum can be used to distort history and promote division. Education systems are particularly susceptible to political influence through intrusion into decision-making. The decentralization of education without appropriate safeguards—often used as a means to increase ownership, citizen participation, and accountability—can also increase the danger of political influence by devolving powers of enforcement to the local level.697 Education reformers should recognize these dangers and protect the education system through system-wide development and reform.698

10.6.8 Reduce systemic corruption in the education system.699 Systemic corruption in the delivery and management of education is closely tied to weak or nonfunctioning governments. Corruption may include collection of unapproved fees or bribes, administration fraud, and favoritism during teacher recruitment or certification.700 Corruption can be reduced and prevented through proper governance, mechanisms for transparency and accountability, and host nation capacity building and training.701

10.6.9 Approach: Equal Access

Equal access to education means that all children receive relevant, quality education and that the population as a whole has means of accessing higher or nonformal education. Following violent conflict, the affected population places a high priority on returning to school.702 Access to education can provide children with protection and the community with a feeling of return to normalcy and stability. For more on access to and delivery essential services, including education, see Section 8.5.11.

10.6.10 Ensure equal access as a mitigator of conflict. Access to education can be used as a tool for dominance and oppression. Vulnerable groups may be refused access to education during and after conflict. Security concerns may keep students—girls in particular—from attending school. Inequality of access based on identity issues—such as race, ethnicity, gender, and religion—can be a factor in social unrest.703 Likewise, equal access for all identity groups to education at all levels can be a stabilizing force. Transparency in education management and accurate monitoring can help assure the population that everyone will have access to and receive the same education.704

10.6.11 Provide interim emergency education for children. In the emergency phase, access to the formal education system may be very limited, particularly for vulnerable groups. These groups must be identified and special care taken to provide them with relevant, quality education.705 It may be necessary to provide interim emergency education to ensure the continuation of schooling. This requires educational programming, materials, a safe gathering space, and teachers.706 Education providers may have to find creative ways to ensure the continuation of education for IDPs and refugees.707 Other alternative emergency education programs may include accelerated learning and distance education programs, skills training, and other nonformal education.”708 As capacity develops, however, education development will increasingly involve more activities.709

See Gap/Challenge: Section 10.10.4, Emergency education.

10.6.12 Incorporate higher and nonformal education. There are often large numbers of demobilized young soldiers and war-affected youths and adults who never received basic education. These populations can be a major destabilizing force. Access to and delivery of nonformal education such as skills training or accelerated learning programs can help reintegrate them into society. Secondary and tertiary education can help provide qualified teachers for the education system and legal, economic, and other professionals, who are typically in short supply, and offer the population greater opportunities for advancement.710 

10.6.13 Pay attention to refugees and IDPs. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that a government may not deny access to education to any child on its territory. This means that governments must provide access to education to children in the refugee and IDP population. Take care that education policies do not prevent these children from enrolling by requiring permanent addresses, identity cards, or other documents which they may not have. In addition to formal education, refugees and IDPs may need access to nonformal education such as accelerated learning to help them reach their appropriate class level. Keep in mind that IDPs may face different challenges to accessing education than refugees, including continued fighting or remaining internal intergroup tensions.711

10.6.14 View education as a tool for child protection and welfare. Many in the affected population will experience trauma after violent conflict. Returning to school can be both a sign of stability to the community and a means of identifying the children and young people who need psychosocial services.712 Combining nutrition and health assistance in schools can enhance the welfare of children.713 Schools also provide a protected space for children, enabling their parents or caretakers to focus on work.

10.6.15 Construct appropriate educational facilities.714 In building school structures, consider their long-term use, available resources, community participation, and whether the local community can afford them. Schools should be physically accessible to all, provide separate sanitation facilities for males and females, and ensure that water is readily available.

10.6.16 Develop appropriate resource standards and monitor resource use.715 Set clear standards for the acquisition of equipment, shelter, and materials; develop plans for meeting these standards; and monitor their implementation. These standards should take into account the need for sustainability. Peg standards to those used by the best of the public schools, but understand that standards will vary according to each situation.

10.6.17 Approach: Quality and Conflict-Sensitive Education

Depending on what is taught and how it is taught, education in these environments has the power to either spark renewed conflict or aid in its resolution. This approach is about the quality of education and the teaching and learning environment that is created for this conflict-sensitive situation. Quality education should not seek to be neutral but to actively support the peace process. Quality curriculum includes course materials and instruction that do not exacerbate tensions from the conflict but promote a shared future of peaceful coexistence. Quality teaching and administration involves appropriate training in creating a conflict-sensitive, learner-centered, participatory school environment.716

10.6.18 Ensure that curricula promote peace and long-term development.717 Educational reforms should identify the role curriculum may have played in aggravating the conflict. Textbooks that use biased histories and hateful language may have inflamed tensions. Pay particular attention to the curriculum’s approach to identity issues (including religion, culture, and language) and subject areas such as history, geography, and literature.718 Promote the most inclusive language of instruction as possible in order not to exacerbate conflicts and differences nor alienate any social groups. This environment may offer an opportunity to help create a modern education program that unifies the population behind a common vision for the future.719 When modernizing curricula, be aware of conflict with local traditions. Working with local traditional and religious leaders can help ensure that the new curriculum respects the local culture.720 See Section 9.7.17 for more on the development of human capital.

10.6.19 Enrich curricula with education on life skills.721 Curriculum in these situations should deliver information vital for the peace process on topics such as health, human rights, safety, multiculturalism, democracy, conflict resolution, and environmental awareness. When combined with quality curricula on standard subjects, this information can help bring about behavior change in children, youth, and adults that enables them to live more healthy and peaceful lives.722

10.6.20 Develop and support quality teachers and administrators. The number of teachers and administrators in a country emerging from violent conflict may be greatly decreased. This can be due to violence directed at teachers, the imprisonment of teachers who engaged in the violence, the emigration of the educated class, or the spread of disease. Programs and reforms may be needed to recruit and train new teachers and administrators. Ensure that different ethnic groups and languages, as appropriate, are represented among them. The quality of training that teachers and administrators receive will be critical to the success of educational reforms. Good teacher training should begin in refugee camps so that capacity is in place once violent conflict ends, and good teachers can migrate back home during the repatriation process. Teachers have the moral responsibility of teaching peacebuilding values and messages and may face additional challenges such as ethnic tensions or psychological trauma.723 Administrators must understand how to run comprehensive assessments, to plan and implement appropriate programs, and to monitor progress.

10.6.21 Promote a student-centered, participatory learning environment.724 Without the proper classroom and school environment, quality curriculum will be of little use. In a society emerging from conflict, a student-centered learning environment is even more significant. This includes student participation, active learning, respect (for each other and for the teacher), cooperation, teamwork, and student interaction. Teacher training should emphasize pedagogy, understanding of content, emphasis on values and attitudes, conflict resolution skills, classroom management, and the development of student-centered learning approaches. Schools should be managed in ways that welcome teacher input, ensure that student voices are heard, and encourage community input and parental involvement, particularly in determining goals, needs, and rules.