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Education in emergencies & protracted crises

Jesuit Refugee Service operates education programs in 36 countries, which in 2014 served more than 142,000 children, young people and adults. JRS considers education a life-saving intervention and offers a variety of opportunities for refugees and displaced persons to achieve an education both in refugee camps — such as the JRS secondary school in Chad's Mile camp, above — and in non-camp settings. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
Thursday, February 04, 2016

(Washington, D.C.) February 4, 2016 — As part of broad, global efforts to strengthen the response to education in emergencies and protracted crises, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) — of which Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member — is leading a global consultation to facilitate dialogue and collect inputs from all over the world. This consultation focuses on how to operationalize solutions toward a proposed, new platform for global work in this area. 

JRS operates education programs in 36 countries, which in 2014 served more than 142,000 children, young people and adults. JRS considers education a life-saving intervention and offers a variety of opportunities for refugees and displaced persons to achieve an education both in refugee camps and in non-camp settings. These include access to preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. In addition, JRS/USA offers vocational and teacher training programs, affirmative programs for girls’ and for people with disabilities and supports the building of new schools and the distribution of school books and materials.

JRS/USA applauds global efforts to address the significant gap in funding for education in emergencies and protracted crises and welcomes the opportunity to provide input on the proposed “Common Platform.”

Conceptual Framework

While understanding that the current challenges — 65 million children affected by conflict and crisis and a $4.8 billion gap in funding to address their needs — are significant, we urge global leaders to seize this historic opportunity to address this tremendous challenge by taking a more ambitious approach.

Rather than asserting the right to quality education for some of the most vulnerable children in the world, the Common Platform’s Mission should be re-stated to assert that it aims to “fulfill the right to quality education for all those affected by emergencies and protracted crises, especially the most vulnerable.” This positions the Common Platform’s mission in a more positive light and places those affected by crisis and conflict at the forefront.

The timeframe provided for how potential new funding for education in emergencies would be distributed should recognize the broad spectrum of conflict and crisis, and the fact that displaced persons are spending, on average, 17 years in exile. We recommend that the timeframe remain flexible and that the Common Platform play a key role in bridging the gap between humanitarian and development actors, by coordinating with development funders and practitioners as early as possible to ensure consistent services and programming. This role must be made explicit both in the Conceptual Framework and as a key function of the Common Platform itself.

Functions of a Common Platform

The top two functional priorities for the Common Platform should be to “inspire political commitment” and “generate new funding.” These two functions are lacking in any other global institutional structure and would be best served by the Common Platform.  The remaining three functions: “improve planning and response,” build national and global capacity,” and “strengthen accountability and learning” are important as well, but we encourage further analysis regarding existing structures that may already play these roles, or which may be improved upon with the assistance of the Common Platform. Further analysis and information will assist in determining the complete role that the Common Platform should play.

Proposed Options

The global community must seize this historic moment by setting forth an ambitious plan to educate the world’s displaced children. To do this, we recommend a funding option for the Common Platform which has the capacity to assist refugees in both short-term emergencies as well as protracted crises. In order for long-term crises not to be forgotten, we must be ambitious and launch the Common Platform with a minimum capacity of assisting 25% of children affected by crisis at a cost of approximately $1.2 billion, annually.

As the Common Platform evolves and takes into account the current global context, these parameters should remain flexible – both for growth and reduction in capacity, depending on the needs.

Institutional Arrangements

The proposed governance structure for the Common Platform must include details regarding how the Board should be composed. We suggest participation from a broad range of actors, including civil society and the corporate sector, along with bilateral and multilateral donors. This will help ensure the greatest level of collaboration, transparency and resource generation to ensure that the Common Platform achieves its mission.

by Giulia McPherson
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Assistant Director for Policy

Related: Jesuit Refugee Service recently launched the Mercy in Motion campaign to support the JRS Global Education Initiative, an effort to expand and strengthen our education programs. Our goal is to nearly double the number of refugees JRS currently serves in educational programs by the year 2020. We aim to accomplish this by providing educational services to 100,000 more refugees by the end of the decade than we reached in 2015. Mercy in Motion reflects the words of Pope Francis: “mercy is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable of.” Visit the special Mercy in Motion website here.