Access to and Quality of Education in Conflict-Affected Countries

Thanks in part to major international efforts like the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, over 90 percent of children worldwide now have access to primary education. But commensurate gains have yet to reach children in conflict-affected countries (CACs). While children in CACs make up 22 percent of primary school-aged children worldwide, they account for fully 50 percent of primary school-aged children without access to education. Moreover, children in conflict-affected areas who are in school are not learning. Our own research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) indicates that 91 percent of primary school children in grades 2-4 could not correctly respond to one reading comprehension question of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), a test designed specifically for use in low- and middle-income countries. Equitable access to quality education can mitigate some of the most severe consequences of conflict for children – and potentially help break the intergenerational transmission of poverty and violence – through the effective provision of safe and supportive spaces that promote children’s academic and socioemotional development. To date, however, practitioners have been limited in their ability to develop and implement such programs due to the “stunning lack of evidence” as to what works to promote children’s learning and development in the context of conflict and crisis.

Our team is firmly embedded in the small (but growing) community working to address the challenges of understanding, advocating and informing the practice of education and learning for children in conflict-affected countries. In collaboration with the International Rescue Committee, TIES is working to evaluate innovative socioemotional education programming in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syrian refugee informal tent settlements in Lebanon, and community-based schools in Afghanistan.