The Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) programme, herein referred to as the Social Cohesion and Resilience (SCR) programme, has completed two and a half years of implementation. In 2014, the Pakistan Country Office (PCO) reflected on the progress made, lessons learned and improvements needed going forward, particularly looking at how SCR can influence and leverage UNICEF’s ongoing work in education sector planning, capacity building in textbook development, and education governance.
Overall, the project is considered to be progressing in the right direction despite a difficult and complex country context. The PCO has achieved results that are building on and providing insights that can be used for scaling up, leveraging and advocacy, including through devising innovative mechanisms for gauging levels of social cohesion and resilience. The Government of Pakistan and other United Nations agencies have also started reaching out to UNICEF for increasing support in programming for social cohesion. In 2014, implementation was accelerated, achieving significant results at the output level across all five outcome areas, in line with the workplan. The results achieved include:
OUTCOME 1: The PCO and government partners continued to use Education Sector Plan (ESP) processes to mainstream SCR into the education system in Balochistan and Sindh provinces, transitioning from provincial-level to district-level decentralization in 2014. This set the foundations for Pakistan’s first Joint Education Sector Review (JESR) scheduled for 2015.
OUTCOME 2: The majority of activities completed in 2014 built on and further strengthened work that was undertaken in 2013 to build the capacity of education content producers and reviewers. The focus was on supporting the action plans developed in 2013 by institutional actors responsible for textbook, curricula development and teacher training, in order to promote the adoption of materials that integrate SCR themes in ongoing textbook writing and review processes. Overall, the education stakeholders that participated in the workshops demonstrated increased capacity to develop and incorporate SCR-related topics into active learning materials. Fourteen textbooks across five subjects for pre-primary to Grade 11, in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh provinces, were developed and reviewed by textbook writers and reviewers trained by UNICEF.
OUTCOME 3: The PCO made significant progress towards achieving the outputs of (non)-formal peacebuilding education projects to reach the most vulnerable children and adolescents, including out-of-school children (OOSC) in conflict-prone areas through Alternative Learning Programmes (ALPs), Child Protection Centres (CPCs), madrassas and other institutions. Whereas the priority in 2013 was to set up and begin the projects, in 2014, the focus was on consolidating the quality of interventions, scaling up, converging activities and increasing the number of beneficiaries. With regard to conflict resolution initiatives, the PCO strategically shifted its focus in 2014, working through the Judicial Academy for the institutionalization of child-friendly alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms. Youth engagement through communication and media was also a priority for the PCO in 2014.
OUTCOME 4: The PCO continued to support the establishment of model ALP centres that are context-specific and based on best practice, ensuring a clear exit strategy through advocacy efforts with the Government to mainstream the ALP centres into the public system. In line with ESPs, activities will now focus on the institutionalization of ALPs in education planning and delivery. In 2014, the Afghan refugee inclusion project showed a significant 25 per cent increase in the enrolment and performance of Afghan refugee children in target public schools. In order to capitalize on these successes, a third phase of the project is envisaged for 2015 in refugee hosting areas.
OUTCOME 5: The information emanating from the case studies have informed scale-up, advocacy and future programming. For instance, lessons learned on what did and didn’t work from SCR programming in madrassas have been captured through a case study to plan the next steps for scale-up and replication of this initiative to other districts in KP. In addition, the quality of programming by partner organizations has been strengthened through capacity-building workshops and trainings on data collection, conflict-sensitivity, and monitoring and evaluation.
In 2014, SCR made important inter-sectoral linkages with child protection and adolescent programming, which has resulted in a strong collaborative approach leading to the implementation of joint activities. The strengthening of these inter-sectoral linkages in the PCO has put peacebuilding programming on the agenda across and with external partners and counterparts. As a result of this cross-sectoral engagement, programming for adolescents increased and convergence in targeting was ensured, with a focus on the most conflict-prone geographic locations. The UNICEF Pakistan SCR programme is also strongly supporting United Nations inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the Delivering as One approach, and is coherent with national and provincial priorities in the education sector.
As recommended in the Evaluability Assessment, in 2014, the PCO developed a Youth Social Cohesion Survey tool that measures social cohesion and captures progress across multiple partners. The UNICEF PCO, through its partners in the provinces, conducted a seminal baseline survey at the beginning of 2014 on levels of social cohesion among youth. The data collected will be used to demonstrate progress towards higher-level outcomes regarding social cohesion among programme beneficiaries.
The PCO is addressing the lessons learned from this past year to improve implementation that ensures quality results. In general, the weak capacity of implementing partners and delays in developing Partnership Cooperation Agreements (PCA), coupled with a difficult operational country context, were some of the most significant obstacles in 2014. Therefore certain activities were reformulated, dropped or refined based on the need to focus on results to achieve the intended outcomes for SCR in Pakistan. The types and number of activities were reviewed based on progress made thus far to enhance programmatic efficiency and effectiveness. Some activities were seen as unfocused and not impactful, thereby not meeting programme objectives. During 2015, the focus will be on ensuring sustainability and concentrating on the quality of activities so as to maximize the programme’s successes. The PCO will also prioritize the systematic integration of SCR into UNICEF’s ongoing work in education programming.