The following review was written by Helen Kearney, based on presentations made during "Voices from the Field: Models of Collaboration" at the 2018 INEE-Alliance Roundtable on integrating child protection and education.
The first session of the afternoon brought together a series of speakers to discuss examples of education-child protection collaboration at global and regional levels.
Diya Nijhowne, representing the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack – formed with the explicit intention of bringing actors from multiple sectors together to prevent attacks on education and mitigate the damage caused -- discussed the Safe Schools Declaration. The Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment to protect education during armed conflict. The Declaration includes a commitment to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
Since the Declaration in 2015, an increasing number of endorsing states have taken concrete steps to implement the Guidelines. Notably, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has updated its child protection policies and strengthened its policy preventing military use of educational facilities. Sudan’s armed forces issued a military directive prohibiting the use of schools and is evacuating schools that were under military use. The Education in Emergencies Working Group in Nigeria, led by the Ministry of Education, is working on mainstreaming implementation of the Declaration at federal and state level. In Somalia, a number of educational facilities, including the national university, have been rehabilitated, cleared of unexploded ordnance, and returned to civilian use.
Mark Chapple, World Vision Syria Response, presented the No Lost Generation initiative: a concerted effort by donors, UN agencies, NGOs and governments to advocate for intensified programme interventions that would ensure children and young people affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq have access to education, protection, and opportunities to engage positively in their community and society. Overarching objectives are the promotion of access to a certified quality education and the fostering of a protective environment for children, including adolescents.
Vanessa Saraiva, also from World Vision, asked how we can improve the quality of child-friendly spaces (CFS) to strengthen education and protection in humanitarian settings. Together, World Vision and IFRC have developed an evidence-informed Toolkit for CFS in Humanitarian Settings. It aims to improve children’s protection and psychosocial outcomes, and to strengthen informal systems by safely engaging communities and caregivers in child well-being. It includes materials to assist managers and facilitators in designing and implementing quality CFSs, such as practical, evidence-based guidance and training for managers on specific evidence-based activities, structure, processes, and monitoring and evaluation and a thematic child protection/psychosocial support activity catalogue.
Vanessa then asked “What more do we need? What is needed to further improve the quality of child-friendly spaces?” An ongoing challenge is the involvement of parents and caregivers in the design and implementation of CFSs. Activities need to be modifiable to meet diverse needs such as children attending CFS for varied durations of time, or those in hard-to-reach locations requiring mobile access. activities that are attractive and effective for older adolescents; suitable exit strategies; improvements to referral; and community protection system links to local CFS.
Next up, Sarita Fritzler from Save the Children presented a framework for supporting integrated programming. Save the Children recently developed Return to Learning, a rapid response education programme that enables forcibly-displaced children to return to learning within the first phase of the crisis. The programme prevents delays in learning by bringing education to child friendly spaces. It strengthens CFS programming by enhancing the community volunteers' capacity to roll out education activities in literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional learning within CFS. Return to Learning was recently piloted in Melilla, Spain and Belgrade, Serbia.
One of several important lessons learned was that some activities should not be used unless all facilitators are trained on psychosocial support and specialized services are accessible. Newly-displaced children were still emotionally distraught and struggled to cope with their situation, so they found discussing feelings and engaging in activities within the CFS difficult.