The damaging impact of crisis on education is overwhelming. Despite education being a human right, over 13 million children and youth in the Arab Region are not going to school due to conflict. For this reason, there is critical need to strengthen education systems and invest in the capacity of governments to handle shocks, to build their resilience, and mainstream/integrate national commitments to SDG4-Education 2030 and their realisation.
Education systems have traditionally been reactive to crisis, with little preventative measures in place to ensure continuous provision of education opportunities as early as possible during a crisis. A lack of consistent, timely and disaggregated data has further made programming and prioritization difficult, presenting a challenge also to proper planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation.
Recent years have seen UNESCO support conflict-affected countries in the region to enhance the resilience of education systems and ensure more efficient and effective preparedness of response. Central to this approach has been support for the generation and utilization of evidence, through quality research, data collection and management, principally using an Education Management Information System (EMIS). UNESCO’s support in this area is a key component of the newly launched Regional Strategic Framework for Education in Emergencies which focuses, among other things, on responsive and resilient national education systems.
It is against this backdrop that UNESCO hosted a high-level technical meeting bringing together senior technical officials from the conflict-affected countries of Iraq, Jordan and Syria, as well as representation from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, who itself works across 5 Fields of operation covering Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Each of these representatives has been developing EMIS within emergency contexts. The meeting was arranged with the objective of better understanding and advocating for effective and functional EMIS in emergency contexts and discuss its role in enabling and better informing planning and management of national education systems affected by crisis; but also, the role of EMIS in building the resilience of member states to realise their national commitments and concrete actions as a part of the SDG Education 2030 Agenda.
Delegates from the three countries & UNRWA, as well as representatives of development partners such as the World Bank, UNICEF and independent technical experts, shared their experiences to date in development of EMIS, including lessons learnt, challenges, and innovative approaches. Focus centred on sharing technical expertise, insights and knowledge as well as formulating concrete messages on the value of EMIS in the context of conflict and fragility. Agreement was clear on the support of EMIS for the ability to deliver more efficient and effective humanitarian responses to conflict in the education sector, as well as the significant role EMIS plays in improving prediction and planning capabilities, including the significant benefits of data driven analysis informing the determination of priorities and approaches. Insights shared by high level technical officials, particularly on the value of continued investment in EMIS and the technical and procedural requirements for its successful development and utilisation will feed into and contribute to a UNESCO/GPE International Conference on EMIS to be held in Paris between the 11-13 April 2018.