In Somaliland, severe drought conditions in 2016-2017 triggered large numbers of people to leave their homes in search of the means to survive. This led children to drop out of school and put yet more at risk of dropping out.
The dire situation prompted the Ministry of Education to request accelerated funding from GPE to support continued access to education in affected communities. A grant US$1.92 million was quickly approved to support provision of teacher incentives, teaching and learning materials, temporary learning spaces, and school meals. About 5,240 primary school children from displaced families in the most affected regions benefited from the support.
Difficulties to maintain education services for vulnerable children
Like in Somaliland, children who live in countries affected by fragility and conflict are more than twice as likely to be out of school as other children. Refugee children are actually five times more likely to be out of school than their peers. Overall, 75 million children aged 3 to 18 live in countries facing war and violence and are deprived of their right to education.
During conflict, schools are often destroyed or become unsafe because they get occupied by armed groups or become a target of violence and conflict. These conditions force children out of school, making them more vulnerable and at risk of violence, forced labor, early marriage, and permanent displacement. School closures and displacement affect girls particularly negatively as existing inequalities are magnified. In addition to conflict, natural disasters and public health emergencies also negatively impact children’s learning opportunities.
Ensuring that children have access to education during conflict and crises protects their rights. Being in a school instills a feeling of normalcy and fosters resilience, inclusion, and a sense of tolerance in children and in communities. In the long term, investing in education for all improves stability, peace, and security.
GPE has increased its financial support to countries affected by fragility and conflict
GPE has placed support to education in countries affected by fragility and conflict on the top of its agenda. Currently, we disburse around 60% of program implementation grants to those countries.
Since 2003, cumulative GPE disbursement to countries affected by fragility and conflict–which represent nearly half of all GPE developing country partners–has been over US$2 billion. Half of these disbursements have taken place in the last six years, reflecting GPE’s growing commitment to support partner countries confronted with conflict and fragility.
GPE plans to continue to increase its support for countries affected by fragility and conflict. The new financing and funding framework, approved in early 2017, better targets GPE funds to countries and communities where needs are the greatest.
Allocations are determined by needs, based on primary and secondary school completion rates and economic status of the country, with an additional weighting for countries affected by fragility and conflict. These new set of criteria have allowed countries with great needs, such as Syria, to become eligible for future GPE funding.
GPE has a range of ways to support countries affected by crisis
GPE can support countries in crisis at various points. It can support not only those affected by conflict but also stable partner countries experiencing a natural disaster or other type of emergency and crisis.
Emergency needs: Through the accelerated financing mechanism, as in the Somaliland example above, countries are able to use up to 20% of their GPE grant allocation to meet immediate needs in a crisis situation. Existing GPE grants can also be reprogrammed to meet urgent emergency needs under GPE’s Operational Framework for Effective Support in Fragile and Conflict-affected States. Among other cases, GPE has been able to support emergency needs in Yemen through this mechanism.
Transitional planning: GPE can support transitional education planning, which offers a good starting point for policy coordination and a basis for longer term sector planning when countries are emerging from a crisis—specifically recognizing the need to link development actors (organized within a local education group) and humanitarian actors (through the education cluster). One of the countries where GPE has supported such a plan recently is Chad, namely the Transitional Education Plan 2018-2020.
Long-term sector planning: GPE supports education sector plans that reinforce emergency preparedness and planning. Furthermore, sector plans should be informed by an analysis of the specific situation of different groups of children, including those affected by conflict.
Find out more about our work in the updated policy brief
Today we are publishing an updated policy brief on GPE’s work in countries affected by fragility and conflict. The brief details GPE’s increased support to these countries and provides information on the mechanisms available to support children’s education in these contexts.
Given the challenges brought about by displacement, the brief also describes GPE’s partnerships and efforts to support education of refugee and displaced children. Finally, the brief includes a variety of country cases demonstrating GPE support and results in practice, including most recently on our work in Somaliland, Kenya, and Uganda in 2017.
Short-term solutions for children who are out of school due to conflict or crises need to be accompanied by long-term planning, and this is exactly what GPE is working on with its partners.