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Education Capacity Self-Assessment: Transforming the Education Humanitarian Response of the Rohingya Refugee Crisis (Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 2018)

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Executive Summary

The influx of over 600,000 Rohingya Refugees into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, caused by targeted violence and human rights violations in Rhakine State of Myanmar, has unfolded rapidly and is defined by the complexity of needs. This requires not only immediate solution for a safe and protective learning environment, but also a guarantee for better and diverse solutions to address the learning needs of children, adolescents and young adults.

To achieve this goal, capacity of organizations providing these solutions is crucial to ensure effective humanitarian response in terms of accessibility, availability, acceptability, adaptability and accountability for results.

The self-assessment method was informed by the Shifting the Power Project (Start Network, 2017) and is an abbreviated version of its Strategic Humanitarian Assessment & Participatory Empowerment Framework (SHAPE Framework, 2017) to support local and national organizations to assess their capacity to manage humanitarian programs and to control and influence the humanitarian response.

The process was led by humanitarian organizations as BRAC, CODEC, DAM and MUKTI and supported by UNICEF, the Global Education Cluster, Cox’ Bazar Education Sector and NorCap.

The report is focused on organization’s vision and strategy, staff engagement and collaborative management, human resources and well-being, working with others, advocacy, preparedness and avoid negative effects, and the results highlights critical issues in the governance of education actors.

  • Vision and Strategy. The common humanitarian commitment among organizations is to “Leave no one out” and guarantee access to learning opportunities to all Rohingya refugees. However, there is lack of understanding regarding what should be happening within the Learning Centers. It is unclear what should be done to “Leave no one behind” and to ensure the quality of the teaching and learning process and the effectiveness of the education response.
  • Staff Engagement and Collaborative Management. Local staff have a strong personal commitment with the humanitarian response, but it remains unclear to them which is their individual contribution to the overall project goal (due to e.g., absence of job descriptions, non-defined core competences and unclear expected results).
  • Human Resources and staff well-being. [Management Staff] The human resources structure designed to manage Learning Centers (Project Manager, Monitoring Officer, Finance Officer, Technical Officer, Program Organizer) and their respective salary scales were set prior to the August 2017 influx. The work load for the scaling-up strategy and increased of living costs in the zone are not currently reflected in salaries. This is causing high staff turnover, loss of accumulative staff capacities and experiences, and weakening teams’ sustainability.
  • Human Resources and staff well-being. [Pedagogical Staff] Organizations report difficulties with the recruitment and retention of pedagogical staff for Learning Centers (Teacher and Language Instructor) due the lack of qualified teachers in host communities. Also, precarious teaching conditions are provoking a teacher drop-out. Female teachers, especially, terminate their contracts because of precarious working conditions (e.g., time used to travel, non-existent WASH facilities, etc.), weak gender sensitive planning (e.g., go to remote areas and return at night), and low salaries (in relation to other employment opportunities in the camps). Also, there is a lack of symbolic recognition of Rohingya Instructors as educational actors (e.g., don’t have ID card, don’t recognized as teacher), which is demotivating and impacting on their performance.
  • Working with Others. Organizations perceived, at a coordination level, a lack of intersectoral planning, which has resulted in an overlapping of or gaps in services in certain camps. At a field level, they see the Learning Centers as safe places within the camps, but also as isolated spaces disconnected from others humanitarian actors (e.g., unlinked with child friendly spaces, adolescent’s clubs, health centers) and within the community (e.g., reduce participation of families, tension with others local spaces).
  • Advocacy. Organizations reported challenges regarding the limitation in the scope (focusing only in the learning centers and instructional learning), extension (weakness in host community inclusion), approach (limited to basic cognitive learning), and target group (reduce to children under 14 years old) of the current education response.
  • Preparedness. [Management staff] For most of the local and national NGO staff, is their first humanitarian response and the training opportunities are still reduced (e.g., education in emergencies, sexual exploitation and abuse, gender based violence, humanitarian framework). Specially they mention the need to be train in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management regarding the approaching monsoon season. Also, different external and internal reasons have affected the monitoring, ones related to staff preparedness are lack of mentoring in data collection and analysis, and weakness in the programmatic use of data.
  • Preparedness. [Pedagogical staff] Most teachers have received an accelerate training in Early Learning and Non-Formal Basic Education supplemented with refresher and practical workshops, but most teachers state that pre-service and in-service training is not enough compared to the needs of the population they are serving. Also, teachers confirm that they have not received training in other critical areas of the refugee response (e.g., Pyscho Social Support, Lifesaving information). For the trainings carried out the main weakness is inexistence of quality standards (e.g., quality criteria’s, agreement on certification, teaching packages to implement in the classroom, follow-up of the implementation).
  • Response Avoids Negative Effects. The main challenges identified by the organizations in their response are related to non-enrollment of children because of different types of barriers (e.g., for boys, there is the need to engage in livelihood activities and for girls, social norms and security risk issues) and drop-out of students (due to e.g., non-value of going to school, the lack of well-being conditions as water and school feeding, mobility between camps).

Overall results indicate the need to shift the power and give social actors a leading role in designing, planning, implementing and assessing of the humanitarian response to make it faster, appropriate, more effective and improve quality. Also, there is a need to support, develop capacities, promote the empowerment and foster ownership of national and local organizations in the overall emergency strategy to make the humanitarian response meaningful and sustainable for refugees and host communities. Finally, the need to incorporate the capacity self-assessment and capacity development plans as a necessary exercise to link the rapid response with longer-term perspective, that links emergency with development, and aid with dignity and social justice.