5 Programs Bettering Opportunities for Students in Conflict-Affected States

Kristen Grauer

This week's feature image is courtesy of the Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somalia. Learn more about this CEI program below!

Earlier this week, my fellow CEI team member Shaheen Madraswala and I attended an event at the Brookings Institution on early childhood development in the West Bank and Gaza. Speakers Sulieman Mleahat of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and Safaa El-Kogali of the World Bank gave powerful testimonies regarding their work in the MENA region. After they presented staggering evidence on the lack of adequate early grade education opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa, their discussion shifted towards the distinct social and political factors that make education provision such a challenge in this fragile area. You can listen to full audio from the event here

On that same afternoon, USAID hosted a Twitter Chat about its Checklist for Conflict Sensitivity in Education Programs, released last November. The conversation focused on strategies to most effectively and efficiently meet Goal 3 of the USAID Education Strategy: to increase equitable access to education in conflict and crisis environments.

Here at CEI we recognize that conflict-affected states require education interventions that utilize strategies unique to their social and political contexts. While several programs within the CEI database operate in fragile areas, this week we are highlighting five unique interventions that seek to transform children's access to educational and extra-curricular activities in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. 

1. Empowering Marginalized Girls | Afghanistan

The long distances between their homes and schools present significant security barriers for many girls in Afghanistan. Empowering Marginalized Girls is a Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) project that provides formal and informal educational opportunities to girls living in remote villages of northern Afghanistan. Over the course of three years, the project will engage more than 15,000 young women, allowing them to attend formal primary schools or literacy and vocational training courses. In addition to these services, the project works actively to engage local community members and religious leaders, such as mullahs, and educate them about the importance of sending girls to school.

2. Building the Resilience of Youth: War Child in SudanSudan

War Child Canada's Sudan project has reached 29,456 learners directly and an estimated 211,330 indirectly since 2005. The West Darfur project targets out-of-school children and at-risk older children by increasing their access to formal and informal education opportunities in a conflict-sensitive manner. War Child in Sudan implements a broad portfolio of programming in formal and informal educational settings, such as acelerated learning programs (ALPs), teacher training workshops, and classroom renovation as well as community-based learning, recreational programs, and vocational training that emphasizes the agriculture sector.

3. Tiempo de Juego (Playtime) Colombia

Tiempo de Juego develops integral social skills and life skills in youth from the most vulnerable and violent communities of Colombia through sports and other recreational activities.The program operates in displaced communities such as Altos de Cazucá and Cartagena, which are among the most low-income, marginalized, and violent in Colombia. Recreational activities are grounded in the methodology of “Fútbol para la Paz” (Football for Peace), a psychosocial technique for building cooperation, critical thinking, confidence, and other skills necessary to counter negative societal influences. The model is almost entirely student-run and trains volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 to monitor soccer games.

4. Abaarso School of Science and Technology Somalia

The Abaarso School is a secondary boarding school providing a high-quality education to Somali girls and boys. In addition to completing a rigorous curriculum with heavy focuses on English, math, and science, students participate in extracurricular activities and serve as tutors in the local community. The school is entirely run by volunteers who, within the next three years, aim to expand its services to village students and children at a local orphanage in Hargeisa. The program recently adopted an innovative financing model providing low-income students with no-interest loans so that they can afford to enroll.

5. Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) | Syria, Kenya, Malawi, Jordan

Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins brings higher education to those at the margins of society – those who have limited access to, or are underserved by, higher education. It offers a fully accredited online 45 credit diploma in Liberal Studies and a portfolio of Community Service Learning Tracks (CSLT) delivered locally. The program's target beneficiaries are refugees who live in non-camp, urban settings. To date, the project has served approximately 500 students with plans to extend its services to 10 different sites, serving over 1,000 students.

To learn more about this topic, we encourage you to explore the following resources on the CEI website: 

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