In early November, eleven USAID education officers joined the USAID ECCN training team for a week in balmy Bangkok, Thailand for the second iteration of our foundational course: Essentials for Education in Crisis and Conflict.
The goals for the course were to:
- Use data and information on crisis and conflict-affected contexts to inform responsive programming
- Procure and oversee or manage a Rapid Education and Risk Analysis
- Design relevant, evidence-based project designs using theories of change that address key challenges of education programs in crisis and conflict-affected environments, including equity, conflict-sensitivity, safety, and institutional capacity.
- Apply principles of collaborative learning and adaptive management (CLA) in the design, management, monitoring and evaluation of education programming in crisis and conflict affected settings
- Select and use appropriate award mechanisms to provide flexibility and adaptation for education programs in crisis-and conflict-affected environments.
Participants hailed from a wide range of locations and contexts, including Pakistan, South Sudan, Egypt, Mali and West Bank/Gaza.
Lisa Deters of USAID’s Education in Crisis and Conflict team introduced the course and facilitated an exploration of the four key elements for education in crisis and conflict: service delivery, equity, institutional capacity development, and safety. Groups discussed each element and its relationship to the other elements, using a conflict sensitivity lens.
USAID ECCN’s Ash Hartwell then introduced participants to a country they had never heard of before: Kampustan. The USAID ECCN training team created this fictional country as a sandbox for participants to explore the goals and concepts of the course. Kampustan was designed to be an East Asian country struggling with equity issues, government upheaval, protests and armed rebellion. It was crafted with care, including a artist’s rendition of Kampustan’s geography including regions, ethnic identities, military and agriculture.
Groups examined stacks of data cards for Kampustan as part of a simulated Rapid Education and Risk Analysis (RERA) activity. Groups were animated as they decided which issues in Kampustan were causes of the major problems, which were effects, and how the issues related to each other. They refined their analysis into a list of findings, a simplified version of what would be found as part of a real RERA activity. Jim Rogan, developer of the RERA and core member of the USAID ECCN training team, challenged groups to find the right level of detail, language and tone in their list of key findings.
Groups were then given the opportunity to plan education programs for the specific challenges in Kampustan using tools and resources specific for the crisis and conflict context. The need for flexibility in such environments was stressed and discussed at length, answering USAID’s Collaborating, Learning, Adapting (CLA) approach, which is now part of the new ADS requirements.
Throughout the week, participants shared challenges from their own contexts, and facilitators brought in relevant examples and activities to meet the unique needs of participants.
At the end, participants gave thoughtful feedback for the improvement of the course, and the USAID ECCN training team has been hard at work putting those thoughts into the next iteration of what promises to be a continually evolving and deepening discussion of the particular challenges and opportunities of the crisis and conflict context.