This white paper provides an overview of humanitarian-development coherence efforts within the education sector globally, with a focus on the U.S. government. It presents a conceptual framework that outlines both the drivers of the humanitarian-development divide and the opportunities for coherence, and then uses this framework to structure the mapping and analysis of U.S. government efforts on education and humanitarian-development coherence. The methodology for the paper included a background literature review; interviews with some 20 global, regional, and country-level U.S. government staff members between December 2017 and March 2018; and an iterative process of development of the conceptual framework.

The USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (ECCN) commissioned this white paper. Its intended audience is U.S. government staff, including staff in the following operational units:

  • USAID missions, regional bureaus, pillar bureaus, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)
  • U.S. Department of State’s (DOS’s) Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and partners

However, the conceptual framework may also be of interest and could be applied to external agencies working in education across humanitarian and development contexts.

Access the report here.

Conceptual Framework

This paper presents a conceptual framework that highlights both the drivers of the humanitarian-development divide and the opportunities to overcome these within the education sector. The framework has three layers:

  1. Norms: This layer looks at what guides education responses in crisis contexts. It shapes and defines humanitarian and development assistance and may include elements such as principles, goals, standards, mandates, strategies, and expected outcomes.
  2. Capacities: This layer focuses on who leads and coordinates support to education, which might include key actors, coordination groups, and staff knowledge and skills.
  3. Operations: This layer considers how education programs are planned and provided. It includes delivery of aid and the functions that make these education programs possible, including approaches to education, assessment processes, planning, finance, and monitoring.

Numerous U.S. government agencies and offices play a role in funding education in crisis contexts, but this paper reviews four key entities: USAID’s Office of Education, OFDA, and OTI, and DOS’s PRM. Each agency has a specific mandate in addressing education that contributes to humanitarian and development coherence. The main findings are summarized below.

Humanitarian Development Coherence


Based on the findings presented above, the paper makes the following recommendations to the U.S. government:

  1. Strengthen high-level U.S. government support for education in emergencies and protracted crises.
  2. Ensure that the new (2018) government-wide U.S. Strategy on International Basic Education and the USAID Education Policy include coherent approaches across humanitarian and development contexts.
  3. Champion education’s contributions to collective outcomes.
  4. Leverage the USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Learning Agenda.
  5. Invest in understanding and defining links between education and resilience.
  6. Develop tools, capacity, and processes to address U.S. government humanitarian-development coherence related to:
    1. Strengthening knowledge management
    2. Building in specialized education surge capacity before and during crises
    3. Ensuring education sector assessments have approaches to coherence in the collection and analysis of primary and secondary data
    4. Funding mechanisms that offer flexibility, pivoting, and contingencies
  7. Provide interagency leadership for the education sector in strengthening humanitarian-development coherence.
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