Crisis-Sensitive Educational Planning for Refugees and Host Communities: Lessons from Ethiopia

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Executive summary

In 2016, Ethiopia, one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in Africa, com m itted both at legal and policy levels to improve access to quality education for refugees. This report presents lessons learned from the implementation of a joint programme by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Ethiopia, as part of the broader multi-year programme ‘Building self-reliance for refugees and vulnerable host communities by improved sustainable basic social service delivery’ (BSRP), which started in 2017 with the aim of supporting the Government of Ethiopia with the implementation following their commitments in 2016.

The IIEP-UNESCO/UNICEF Ethiopia partnership was structured around five components, the first of which focused on educational planning for refugees and host communities and is the main subject of this report. The activities in Component 1 included school mapping exercises, technical planning sessions for education officers, and support to increase capacities of school inspectors and supervisors, with the overall objective to strengthen the capacity of officials to plan and manage education for refugees and host communities.

As the approach is innovative and may have technical implications beyond the IIEP-UNESCO/UNICEF Ethiopia partner-ship, including for other contexts and future programming, this report focuses on the activities in Component 1 to distil lessons learned on jointly planning education across host and refugee contexts. It also identifies enabling and constraining factors linked to the provision of education for refugee and host communities in Ethiopia, based on documents produced and information collected throughout the implementation of the programme, as well as interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders.

The main enabling factors that contributed to improving the coordinated provision of quality learning in refugee and host com munities in Ethiopia include: (a) international, regional, and national commitments to integrate refugees into the national education systems; (b) enhanced collaboration between the two main government bodies responsible for education in host and refugee communities, the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA); (c) concrete steps toward the inclusion of refugees in national education, such as the ongoing integration of schools attended by refugees into the national supervision and inspection system; (d) recognition of the importance of joint planning between host communities and schools attended by refugees to make better use of human and financial resources.

While there are promising steps and experiences that have contributed to a more coordinated provision of quality learning in refugee and host communities, there are various factors that constrain this: (a) the existence of parallel planning and manage ment systems for refugee and host communities; (b) the lack of a longer-term vision and awareness/knowledge of the challenges faced by refugees; (c) the multi-plicity of risks facing schools, including natural hazards, conflicts, and disease outbreaks, and the lack of available data on risks; (d) limited human and financial resources; (e) challenging learning conditions and environments.

Building upon and reflecting on the enabling and constraining factors identified, a set of lessons learned and recommendations were developed:

— Integration requires sustained government leadership and commitmentDespite the international, regional, and national commitments, and steps toward greater integration of refugees, a gap remains concerning their effective application at decentralized levels, which can only be bridged with continued and sustained leadership, commitment, policy and financial engagements, and communication and guidance from federal-level authorities to education stakeholders, particularly at regional and woreda (district) levels.

— Predictable and long-term human and financial resources are needed to build a long-term vision for refugeesDue to the protracted displacement of many refugees in Ethiopia, a longer-term vision for refugees, supported by predictable and sustainable human and financial resources, is required. The forth-coming Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP) VI is a timely opportunity to move toward a more holistic and long-term approach to planning education service delivery for refugees and host communities.

— Equitable provision of education for host and refugee communities requires strong coordination and collaborationWhile the availability of resources forms the basis for longer-term investments to improve the provision of education, stronger coordination and collaboration, particularly at decentralized levels, would also further strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of quality education provision for refugees and host communities.

— Crisis-sensitive planning requires capacities, including for data collection and analysis, at different levels of the education systemSchools attended by refugee and host communities in Ethiopia face a wide range of natural and conflict- related risks. A more systematic approach to crisis-sensitive planning at regional, woreda, and school levels, including with reliable data, could help schools be ready to address the multiple risks affecting them. This, in turn, would serve to protect education investments, ensure education continuity, and save lives.