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    Interventions for Girls Education - Part 7: Sustaining Girls’ Education during Emergencies

    “We had to leave behind all of our possessions. The only thing we could bring with us is what we had in our heads, what we had been taught—our education. Education is the only thing that cannot be taken from us.” - A woman who fled from Darfur to Chad, 2004

    what works girls education

    This month we conclude our series addressing interventions that work in girls education as outlined in What Works in Girls Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment [click on the title to download a free pdf of the book!]. The authors present a list of seven intervention areas which are critical to increasing the number of girls who enroll and stay in school:

    1. Making schools affordable

    2. Helping girls overcome health barriers

    3. Reducing the time and distance to get to school

    4. Making schools more girl-friendly

    5. Improving school quality

    6. Increasing community engagement

    7. Sustaining girls’ education during emergencies


    So far we have explored the importance of making schools affordable, the link between health and girls’ education, reducing the time and distance to get to school, making schools more girl-friendly, improving quality education, and the role community involvement plays in girls’ education. We conclude our series with a look at  the importance of sustaining girls’ education during emergencies. What a perfect theme to finish up with, as it ties perfectly to our Target Project: Hope Beyond Displacement!

    Sustaining Girls’ Education during Emergencies


    INEE video

    INEE • Education: A Priority in Emergencies (click to watch)


    “Believe it or not, it is possible to sustain education amid crises and emergencies. It may not look the same; in other words, it may not be a school with four walls and a certified teacher that young people attend every day. But with a little creativity, it is not only possible to sustain education amid crises but also highly recommended to do so. Numerous studies of children’s physical and psycho- social well-being amid crises have showed that restoring education and other regular activities is crucial for helping children adjust and adapt to their difficult surroundings (Loughry and Eyber 2003). Girls and boys are, it turns out, surprisingly resilient if given the most basic support, such as games, activities, and classes with a caring adult. This type of intervention has increasingly been shown to be crucial for children’s long-term health and development, not only physically but also psychologically and socially (Boyden 2003; Reyes 2013). Al- though sustaining education during emergencies helps both boys and girls, it also remains a crucial intervention for the millions of girls affected by war, disasters, and epidemics.” - pages 177-178


    The authors, highlight three strategies as critical for sustaining education during emergencies.

    Harnessing Community Demand

    “A key feature of the different interventions that have been shown to help girls and boys during emergencies is both to ensure that humanitarian actors are prepared to sustain children’s education—something that historically they have not been—and to ensure that community initiative is fully integrated into the intervention’s design and implementation.

    Indeed, repeatedly across crisis contexts, the communities affected by crises have been the first ones to restore education to their children. Multiple global reviews of education in contexts of crisis and conflict, as well as several in-depth country case studies, have shown that affected communities are on the front lines in sustaining children’s education. Not only is education repeatedly a high priority for affected communities—along with things such as shelter, food, and water—but it is also the community’s initiative and contributions that quickly restore education and keep it going—from using existing teachers, to finding safe spaces for classes, to organizing food and logistics. Community members and parents, even amid a crisis, want their children to have daily activities that provide enjoyment and lay the groundwork for their long-term success in life. For many, restoring schooling is the lifeline to do just that.” - pages 180-181

    Child-Friendly Spaces

    “In emergency settings, child-friendly spaces are a more effective approach to sustain education than setting out to build schools, training or bringing in teachers, or awaiting government-approved textbooks. The premise is simple: To quickly find safe spaces where children can gather with caring adults and regularly engage in enriching activities, including games and expressive activities, in addition to traditional school subjects such as reading and mathematics. Using whatever materials are available in the context (from gathering under trees and drawing in the sand to reading books and hearing traditional stories from elders), this approach has been shown to effectively reach large numbers of children very rapidly. There is also increasing evidence to demonstrate that this approach helps support children’s psychosocial well-being, boosting their ability to bounce back from their difficult experiences. This approach works across the different types of contexts where emergencies strike: refugee settings, natural disasters, and armed conflict. It also can lay the foundations for, over time, developing more formal learning environments, which are crucial to the full restoration of schooling.” - page 182

    The authors cite several examples:

    • Five thousand girls and boys affected by an earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands rapidly benefited from a child-friendly spaces intervention over the course of four months

    • One of the most extreme adaptations of the child-friendly spaces approach was successfully used by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to sustain education for girls in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

    • For refugee girls and boys fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo, child friendly spaces boosted their social and emotional well-being compared with children not engaged in the program. Girls in particular were helped.

    • In the war-affected villages of Afghanistan, interviews with community members showed that child-friendly spaces supported children’s well-being, and in particular helped increase girls’ ability to speak out about their needs.

    To learn more see pages 183-185.

    Back to School Campaigns

    “After an emergency ends and the effort of rebuilding begins, whether after a war or a disaster, one successful approach for ensuring education is prioritized is back-to-school campaigns. These are typically coordinated by governments and UNICEF education teams in the country, and are implemented with a wide range of partners. The focus is to rapidly restore schooling by providing the basics—supplies, teacher training, coordination, and community awareness. In many cases, the child-friendly spaces established during emergencies are expanded into formalized learning centers.” - page 186


    Collateral Repair Project incorporates all three of these elements in their programming and
    they are feature components of the FAWCO Target Project, Hope Beyond Displacement!


    Harnessing Community Demand  

    Collateral Repair Project is largely run by refugee volunteers, identifying their needs and finding solutions to meet them. Hope Beyond Displacement addresses four pressing issues identified in close consultation with the women CRP serves:

    1. ensuring better educational support for their children

    2. accessing sources of income through vocational training

    3. better managing the threat of violence in their families and

    4. learning and developing leadership and advocacy skills


    Child-Friendly Spaces

    The CPR Community Center is an oasis and safe space for the people they serve. Everyone is welcome and no judgements are made. Hope Beyond Displacement provided for the creation of the SuperGirls program, which offers girls 6-12 a safe space to recover from trauma and rediscover childhood and dignity.


    Back to School Campaigns

    FAWCO funding has help enroll 866 girls in school over the past two years!




    In 1996, Graça Machel released a report Impact of Armed Conflict on Children at the request of the UN secretary-general. It revealed that conflict and crisis impact millions of children but that humanitarian aid focused on adults with no interventions directed to the needs of children. The international community took notice.

    Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies

    Today the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) leads the effort to ensure educational needs are met when crisis arises. INEE is a network of more than 15,000 individual members and 130 partner organizations in 190 countries. INEE members are practitioners working for national and international NGOs and UN agencies, ministry of education and other government personnel, donors, students, teachers, and researchers who voluntarily join in the work related to education in emergencies.


    Explore the timeline of  Education in Emergencies - Then and Now • it leads with the Declaration of Human Rights!


    “Wars and natural disasters deny generations the knowledge and opportunities that an education can provide. Education is not only a right, but in emergency situations through to recovery quality education provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection that can sustain and save lives. Education in emergencies ensures dignity and sustains life by offering safe spaces for learning, where children and youth who need other assistance can be identified and supported. Education mitigates the psychosocial impact of conflict and disasters by giving a sense of routine, stability, structure and hope for the future. It can save lives by protecting against exploitation and harm, including forced early marriage, recruitment into armed forces and armed groups or organised crime. Lastly, education provides the critical survival skills and coping mechanisms through the dissemination of lifesaving information about landmine safety, HIV/AIDS prevention, conflict resolution and peace-building.” - INEE Minimum Standards for Education • Overview


    INEE Minimum StandardsINEE Gender Pocket Guide cover



    Malala Yousafzai


    We are Displaced cover



    Malala on Trevor Noah

                            Interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show



    Related Issues of Let’s Get Schooled

    Education and Violent Conflict - November 2016

    Displaced Persons and the Education Crisis - November 2017

    Getting an Education in Jordan - January 2018






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