Crisis-sensitive planning and the inclusion of forcibly displaced populations in West and Central African education systems

25 January 2019


Leonora MacEwen/IIEP-UNESCO
Children in a school in Fouta Region, Senegal.

A four-day workshop on crisis-sensitive planning and the inclusion of displaced children and youth in national education systems in West and Central Africa will take place in Dakar, Senegal, from 29 January to 1 February.

The UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO) is hosting the workshop in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, and the Global Education Cluster with funding from the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments.

Displaced children and youth are one of the most marginalized groups worldwide in terms of access to quality education. Only 61 percent of refugee children attend primary school, compared to the global average of 92 percent, according to UNHCR. At the secondary level, the rate drops to 23 percent, compared to 84 percent of youth globally.

In the West and Central Africa Region, 41 million children and adolescents are out of school. In the Sahel, attacks on education occur at an alarming rate, with more and more schools closing due to insecurity and fear. Moreover, protracted crises have forced millions of children and youth to flee their homes, and schools. Of the 9.5 million people displaced due to protracted crises in the region, as of June 2018, 5.6 million are children, according to UNICEF. Many are likely to remain in exile between 5 and 13 years, representing crucial years in education.

A major challenge is that education for displaced populations has traditionally been financed by short-term emergency funds, with little room for long-term planning to address inequalities and ensure sustainable access to quality education.

However, education partners increasingly recognize the need to include crisis-risk reduction aspects and displaced populations in educational planning and management. This also requires individual, organizational, and institutional capacities within government agencies, as well as among humanitarian and development partners. Effective coordination between these actors can also help ensure efficient use of resources, avoid duplication of activities, and encourage collaboration.

In this context, the upcoming workshop aims to improve joint crisis-sensitive planning for education delivery across both development and humanitarian interventions in the region. Country teams from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal will prepare action plans to improve coordination between ministries of education, humanitarian, and development partners.

The workshop builds on recent international agreements such as the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and the Global Compact on Refugees, as well as regional initiatives such as the African Union Continental Education Strategy for Africa (2016-2025) and the Nairobi Declaration. It is the second regional workshop of a series of EU-funded capacity development activities for crisis-sensitive education sector planning in displacement contexts in East Africa, West Africa, and the Middle East.

Participating country teams will also have the opportunity to join an IIEP distance education course on educational planning for crisis-risk reduction and forced displacement from April to June 2019.

What is crisis-sensitive planning in education?

Crisis-sensitive educational planning involves identifying and analysing existing risks of conflict and natural hazards and understanding the two-way interaction between these risks and education to develop strategies that respond appropriately. Crisis-sensitive planning aims to contribute to minimizing the negative impacts of risk on education service delivery and to maximize the positive impacts of education policies and programming on preventing conflict and disaster or mitigating their effects. It also requires identifying and overcoming patterns of inequity and exclusion in education, including for forcibly displaced populations, as well as harmful cultural practices.