USAID LogoJournal of Education for International Development (JEID)
A Professional Online Journal for Practitioners




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ISSN 1554-2262


Providing effective education support to governments of developing countries is difficult in the best circumstances. But when teacher instruction and classroom learning has to happen in areas subject to violent natural, political or other types of upheavals, then the business of education can be nearly impossible.

This issue of JEID is devoted to education in fragile contexts. The articles are grouped around three themes, all meant to help practitioners in the field. The first set of articles speaks to potential frameworks for working in these difficult environments and provides a healthy review of the literature related to the topic. The second group of articles examines trends and offers guidance when considering this unique type of work. And the third and final set of articles offers up concrete lessons learned from three unique case studies of education in fragile environments. As always, we welcome your feedback and contributions. Let us know what you think of this issue by contacting us at

The opinions and findings presented in this publication are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID.

Volume 4, Issue 1: Education and Fragility

A Framework for Assessing the Effectiveness of the Delivery of Education Aid in Fragile States

Chris Berry, Ph.D
DFID Education Advisor

This paper presents a framework for assessing the effectiveness of education aid in fragile states which is derived from three key aspects of aid effectiveness identified in the Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States - coordination, state building, and 'do no harm'. The framework is then used to examine four approaches to delivering education aid (sector-wide approaches, trust funds, social funds, UN-led approaches). The paper analyses how these have impacted on education sector outcomes in particular fragile states contexts, and identifies what can be learned about the effective delivery of education aid from each of these examples. In addition, the FTI approach to supporting education in fragile states is examined through this lens in order to draw lessons. The paper concludes by identifying key issues that relate to achieving coordination, state building and do no harm objectives when investing in education in fragile states.

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Education and Fragility: A New Framework

Yolande Miller-Grandvaux, Ph.D.
Sr. Education Advisor, USAID

The author describes the evolution of USAID's education framework for programming in fragile and conflict countries. Developed in 2006, it casts education in the forefront of programming priorities as a response to the risks or the reality of conflict in countries affected by potential or actual unrest. The framework revolves around three main questions: How does education contribute to fragility? How does fragility affect education? How can education mitigate fragility and promote stability?

The Education and Fragility Framework positions education at the center of four key areas of influence related to economic, governance, security and social domains. Education is viewed within the context of specific root causes of fragility or conflict such as organized violence, corruption, exclusion and elitism, transitional dynamics, insufficient capacity and public disengagement. Each of these issues can be addressed through education. In all cases, the premise is that if education can contribute to a given driver of fragility, it can also contribute to finding its remedy and thus to promoting stability.

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Education and Fragility: A Synthesis of the Literature

Jacqueline Mosselson, Ph.D.
Wendy Wheaton
Paul St. John Frisoli
University of Massachusetts

The purpose of this paper is to provide a synthesis of the emerging literature in the field of education and fragility. We examine the various attempts to capture the contexts of fragility in a pragmatic manner, from both an operational and a policy-making perspective. We review the macro, state-centric definitions of fragility, which highlight the importance of the state and its institutions in driving fragility and as a partner for change, but also look at the limitations of this perspective. We then turn to more micro-level approaches to capturing the contexts of fragility, showing its difference from conflict, and looking in particular at more cross-sectoral and societal characteristics of fragility. Ultimately, we conclude this paper by acknowledging that, in practical terms, practitioners and donors are using both perspectives to guide their work in education and fragility.

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Global Trends for Education to Support Stability and Resilience: Research, Programming and Finance

Kerstin Tebbe
INEE Coordinator for Education and Fragility

Developments in the area of education and fragility have accelerated rapidly over the last few years as the concept of fragility has developed and impacted on broader trends in global humanitarian and development agendas. A range of agencies including UN agencies, NGOs, research institutions, multilateral and bilateral donors, are increasing attention on improved education responses in situations of fragility. Initiatives and activities are focused on ensuring quality and accessible education in fragile contexts that also supports broader contributions to state-building, peacebuilding and stability. Trends in research, programming and financing relate back to the need to ensure quality and access in education provision in fragile contexts and the idea that education has a role in mitigating fragility.

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Literacy for Adults in Fragile States: Design Adaptations for Successful Implementation
Cristine Smith, Ed.D.
Wendy Wheaton
Jacqueline Mosselson, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts

This paper reviews the benefits and challenges of providing adult literacy education services in fragile states. The goal of the paper is to provide guidance to adult literacy practitioners and program planners about design adaptations based on the challenges in such settings. Using project experiences from Sudan and Afghanistan and existing literature on education in emergency settings, this paper proposes practical suggestions for implementing adult literacy programs in fragile states. A comparison of recent reviews of adult literacy program implementation is followed by options for adaptations to program design in fragile states, including suggestions for what should count as successful outcomes of such programs. Finally, the paper calls for research and collective interagency dialogue to capture lessons from adult literacy programs currently running in fragile states.

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INEE Guidance on Education in Conflict-Affected Countries: Responsive education from project to system

Heidi Eschenbacher
University of Minnesota

Education in emergencies in places affected by conflict emphasizes system development, particularly of primary education systems. This paper suggests that education in conflict-affected countries requires greater coordination and intentional connections between projects and programs than in places where educational institutions are well developed. The bridge between a standalone project and an educational system appears to be networked connections. In a departure from project-based approaches to education, educational system development through networks in conflict affected countries appears to be an emerging theme. This paper suggests a framework for reconsidering how educational systems are developed from institutional structures of semi-permanent systems toward networked forms of organizations to develop institutions over time that form a culture of being responsive to their society.

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Creating Access to Quality Education in Two Fragile States: EDC's Radio Projects in Somalia and Southern Sudan

Said Yasin
Thomas D. Tilson
Education Development Center

Somalia and Southern Sudan, both located in eastern Africa, qualify as fragile states. Somalia, perhaps, meets the criteria of a failed state. In both locations, educational radio is being used to provide quality education under difficult and challenging circumstances. This paper summarizes the current political situation in each country and the implications for basic education. The paper then describes similar interventions in both countries - interventions that use educational radio programs to expand access and improve the quality of primary level education and teacher training. The paper explains why high quality radio programs are especially appropriate in fragile states. The achievements and targets for each project are presented. In the section on Southern Sudan, there are descriptions of low-cost digital technologies that deliver audio programs where radio broadcasts are not possible and computer centers with Internet and video production at teacher training institutes.

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Catch-up-Classes in Post-Conflict Burundi: Reflective Notes on Three Constraints
Maria Josep Cascant i Sempere
Independent Consultant

Catch-up-Classes (CuCs) and Accelerated Learning Programmes (ALPs) are educational strategies aimed to compress years of formal education into a reduced span of time. These programmes are specifically targeted for young people (ages 10-24) who have had to abandon school due to situations of conflict or natural disasters and aim to "catch-up" students so that they may once again re-enter formal schooling. This article presents conclusions from an evaluation of a CuC programme implemented in Burundi by an International Non Governmental Organisation. It analyses three main constraints that were observed during the course of the study: 1) the lack of livelihood strategies for out-of-school youth; 2) the lack of a preliminary analysis of national educational needs in terms of demand (schools) and supply (students); and 3) the fragile economic and social sustainability of the CuC programme. Using these observations as a basis, the article calls for the debate to further identify the educational contexts in which CuC/ALP strategies can be most appropriate.

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Colombia's Children at Risk of Recruitment into Armed Groups: Exploring a Community-Based, Psychosocial Pedagogy
Ryan Burgess, Ed.D.
Education Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

The protracted violent conflict in Colombia has resulted in the internal displacement of over 4.3 million people (IDMC, 2008) and the enlistment of 11,000 to 14,000 children into one of the guerrilla or paramilitary groups. At least 30 percent of the combatants in Colombia's armed groups are children, and over tens of thousands more child soldiers exist in the world. Children in rural and marginalized areas of Colombia are often targeted by armed groups for recruitment or social cleansing, which is the killing of youth for not abiding by imposed community rules (WatchList, February 2004). Based on research conducted in an illegal, paramilitary controlled territory in Colombia, this article offers insights into how education may increase protection of displaced, violence-affected children by addressing their layers of risk factors through a community-based, psychosocial pedagogy.

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