Support to education in fragile and conflict-affected situations remains a top priority for GPE

GPE webinar sheds light on current work and offers a platform for collaborators to share knowledge

A mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took place in April 2015 and included field visits to schools that have received support through the US$100 million grant that the Global Partnership allocated to DRC. Mboga primary school, Nyiragongo Kanyarushinya, Goma (North Kivu), Democratic Republic of Congo.

CREDIT: GPE/Federico Scoppa

Of the 65 GPE partner countries, 28 are affected by some sort of conflict or fragility and are home to 63% of the world’s forcibly displaced children.  GPE’s new Financing and Funding Framework (FFF), increases the number of countries eligible for GPE support to 89, including many more affected by conflict.

Many of these countries struggle to prioritize education due to competing demands in the face of humanitarian disasters, and lack of capacity and resources. In response, GPE has put support to education in countries affected by fragility and conflict on top of its agenda, and disburses around 60% of its grants to them.

A GPE webinar organized in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) last April offered participants from around the world an overview of GPE’s work in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS). The webinar also presented the minimum standards (MS) in education, developed by the INEE and implemented by the network in 110 countries so far. The INEE MS sets ‘universal goals for helping adults and children achieve the right to life with dignity.’

GPE’s work in fragile and conflict-affected situations

In 2015 around 50% of all forcibly displaced children globally had no access to primary education and 3 out of 5 children had no secondary education available to them.

Through an Operational Framework for effective support in fragile and conflict-affected states, and Guidelines for accelerated support in emergency and early recovery situations, GPE is able to allocate funding for FCAS, especially in low and lower-middle income groups with high levels of out-of-school children.

Starting with a little less than US$14 million in 2003, GPE allocated more than US$2.1 billion in 2015 to FCAS and made this support a priority for the strategic period 2016-2020.  

GPE’s operational framework safeguards against emergencies during the grant implementation process by enabling a rapid review of context and regrouping of local education agencies to restructure funds in response to crises.  

FCAS can also benefit from accelerated funding by drawing down up to 20% of their allocated GPE grant to meet immediate needs in a crisis situation.

Recent recipients of accelerated GPE funding include:

  • The Central African Republic – US$3,690,000
  • Chad – US$6,955,170
  • Somalia (Federal government) – US$1,380,000
  • Yemen – US$ 10,000,000

Support to plan for the short term while preparing for the long term

GPE also supports transitional education plans (TEPs), which provide technical and financial assistance to a country in the immediate term and support a government and its partners to (re)structure and progress in the medium and long term.

TEPs offer a common framework for various actors to dialogue, accelerate recovery plans, enable external donors to leverage financing, and finally, create a sense of ownership in the resettlement plan among all partners. 11 TEPs have been developed and implemented between 2012 and 2016.

The three mechanisms – operational framework, accelerated financing, and TEPs – enable GPE to support the education sector once emergencies strike and provide inter-agency collaboration to best leverage GPE grants where they’re needed most.

INEE’s minimum standards in education

The INEE MS is an effective global tool that clearly defines the minimum level of educational quality and access in emergencies from an early stage through to recovery.

The MS recognizes every citizen’s right to an education and aims to:

  • improve on the quality of educational preparedness, response and recovery;
  • increase access to safe and relevant learning opportunities for all learners, regardless of their age, gender or abilities; and
  • ensure accountability and strong coordination among various actors engaged in providing education in emergencies from the first strike through to post emergency re-structuring.

How GPE and INEE support DRC and South Sudan

During the webinar, case studies from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan showcased the INEE MS implementation processes and results while GPE’s work was presented by speakers from the Ministry of Education in DRC and UNICEF in South Sudan.

In South Sudan, INEE brought together in 2012 the country’s Education Cluster, Education in Emergencies (EiE), actors from the Ministry of Education, UN agencies, and a range of national and international non-governmental agencies to agree on standards that are in line with local practices and to set forth a realistic approach to achieving compliance.

This led to positive sector response, provided clarity on coordination mechanisms, and helped develop a common vocabulary for all EiE partners. This process supported a faster and more coordinated response among education stakeholders when crisis hit in 2013.

Similarly, in DRC constant engagement of the Education Cluster and targeted support to the most affected provinces coordinated by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education allowed for a response tailored to supporting education in protracted emergencies.

The GPE grant in South Sudan focused on education sector strengthening, and improving equity and quality of education nationally. Results suggested substantial progress in curriculum revision. Unfortunately, conflict in late 2016 resulted in a drop in enrollments and an increase in teachers’ absenteeism due to a break in payroll.

In DRC the GPE grant helped reach 72% (Equator) and 100% (Kasai-West) enrollment rates, surpassing both targets and the national rate of 68.6% in 2016. Gender parity index reached 0.86 in both provinces compared to 0.78 in Equator and 0.79 in Kasai-West in 2011. Additionally, 858 primary classrooms were either constructed or rehabilitated, and 20 million textbooks (in French, math, science, civic education) and teachers’ guides were distributed across the country. Nearly 33,000 teachers, school directors and school advisors received capacity training, nationally.    

GPE’s replenishment: an opportunity to highlight the urgent need to support education in fragile situations

GPE recently launched its Case for Investment that makes a strong argument for more and better funding to support countries that need it the most, in order to support children and young adults that are hardest to reach.

GPE’s new Financing and Funding Framework (FFF) opens opportunities for new partnerships bringing previously untapped resources to education from both public and private sources so that countries like South Sudan and DRC can continue to scale up education sector capacity strengthening even when a crisis hits. While a higher level of schooling and distributed equitably across a population can significantly cut back the risk of conflict, but equally education for displaced and refugee children is also important.  With more and better financing for education from - domestic and external - we can do more to improve stability, peace and security.

Presenters at the webinars agreed that though returns on investment in education are a slower process, there are huge gains in making sure that children in these regions have access to education before, during and after a conflict.

They also agreed that access to education and improvement in learning outcomes can only be achieved in FCAS when funds are coupled with operationalized minimum standards on quality, access, and governance in education. GPE strongly supports the use of the INEE MS.  

Read more about GPE’s work in countries affected by fragility and conflict


Learn more:  GPE Webinar Series

The GPE webinar series is part of a knowledge exchange initiative that enables development partners to share information on what works in education. Since the launch of the series in May of 2016, GPE has used this platform to discuss topics including textbook provision for every child, early childhood care and education, national education accounts, GPE 2020 and the gender equality policy and strategy, the Education Commission report, the civil society education fund (CSEF)  and support to education in fragile and conflict-affected situations. Future topics will cover school report cards and accountability, SDG4 implementation, the GPE results report, disability and inclusion, joint sector reviews, and teaching and learning. 


The Global Partnership for Education Secretariat is headquartered in Washington DC and has approximately 100 staff. The Secretariat provides administrative and operational support to all its partners including...

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