Topic Guides – Health and Education Advice and Resource Team http://www.heart-resources.org Providing DFID staff and other development actors with health, education and nutrition knowledge and expertise from around the world Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:16:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Education for refugees and IDPs in low- and middle-income countries: identifying challenges and opportunities http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/education-for-refugees-and-idps/ http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/education-for-refugees-and-idps/#respond Tue, 01 Nov 2016 08:00:32 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=topic&p=28949 Read more]]>
Executive Summary1. Introduction2. Forced Displacement and Education: A Global Overview3. State of Research, Policy, and Practice in Refugee Eduction4. The State of Research, Policy, and Practice in IDP Education5. Opportunities, Innovations, and Best Practice in Education for Forcibly Displaced PeopleAppendix

This topic guide is designed to support DFID advisors, education specialists, and other partners working on providing education for refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It provides an overview of the key issues, and signposts relevant sources for further information and reading. Section 1 provides a brief introduction to the guide. Section 2 gives a global overview of forced displacement and education. Section 3 maps the state of research, policy, and practice in refugee education. Section 4 maps the state of research, policy, and practice in IDP education. Section 5 seeks to identify and explore best practice, and existing and potential future opportunities and innovations, in the field of education and forced displacement.

Methodology and evidence base

This guide is based on an extensive (but not systematic) literature review. There are few sources of reliable data, robust evidence, and rigorous research in this field, especially with regard to IDP education and education for refugees living outside of camps. This guide has therefore also drawn upon grey literature, including project evaluations from international agencies working in the field. There remain large evidence gaps regarding the numbers of displaced children and the quantity and quality of education that they receive. The evidence base regarding the effectiveness of education interventions for displaced populations, covered in section 5 of this guide, is very limited. The strength of the evidence base is discussed in Appendix A.

Section 2: Forced displacement and education: a global overview

In 2015 there were 65.3 million people living in forced displacement due to conflict and persecution (UNHCR 2016i). The figure includes those who have fled across borders (refugees) and those who have stayed within their own countries (IDPs). The differences between refugees and IDPs are summarised in table 0.1.

Table 0.1 Summary of the differences between refugees and IDPs

  Refugees IDPs
Global numbers (2015) (see UNHCR 2016i)

 

21.3 million refugees
3.2 million asylum seekers
40.8 million internally displaced people, of which 8.6 million newly displaced in 2015
Causes of displacement Persecution Armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or man-made disasters
Bodies responsible for ensuring the right to education UNHCR, host governments, UNRWA for Palestinian refugees National governments
UNICEF for returnees (see UNHCR 1997)
Global legal frameworks and conventions 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 1998 UN Guiding Principles on IDPs (not legally binding)

 

Coordinating bodies UNHCR, UNRWA Education Cluster

Displacement is usually long term. In 2012, 75% of refugees had been displaced for more than 5 years. In two thirds of all countries monitored in 2014, over half of all IDPs had been displaced for over three years.

Around half of refugees are under 18; similar data for IDPs is unavailable. However, education counts for only around 2% of humanitarian aid, and makes up 4% of UNHCR’s budget. Education in situations of protracted displacement faces funding shortages

Data availability

The UNHCR is mandated to collect and disseminate global statistics on refugees. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) compiles data on IDPs collected by other organisations but is only able to produce estimates. Little is known about the largest group of forcibly displaced people – IDPs outside of camp situations – regarding the numbers of children and their access to education. In terms of data, this group is virtually invisible to the international community.

Section 3: State of research, policy, and practice in refugee education

This guide focuses on the education of refugees in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority (≈75%) of refugees live, and does not cover education of refugees in high-income countries. The education of Palestinian refugees through UNRWA provides an example of how quality education for refugees in protracted displacement can be successfully delivered at scale, given sufficient resources.

Coordination

The UNHCR Education Strategy 2012-2016 promotes the integration of refugee learners within national systems. UNHCR has established formal partnerships with ministries of education in almost all the countries in which it works, and many host countries have adopted this approach.

Access to education for refugees

According to UNHCR:

  • Only 1 in every 2 primary-school-aged refugees accesses primary education
  • Only 1 in every 4 secondary-school-aged refugees accesses secondary education
  • Only 1 in every 100 refugees accesses higher education or skills-based education
  • 2 million school-aged refugee children and adolescents are out of school

Common barriers to access at all levels of education include shortage of school space, language barriers, curriculum, transport, lack of documentation (e.g. birth certificates, school-leaving certificates), child labour, school fees, and security concerns. Particular challenges for girls include pregnancy and/or marriage, and lack of access to sanitation facilities.

The limited available research suggests that mainstreaming into the host country’s education system has several major advantages compared with creating parallel and/or alternative education provision. Advantages include accountability, standardisation, and recognised certification of educational opportunities. However, the education systems in host countries are rarely equipped to deal with arrivals of refugee learners. National schools are sometimes associated with high costs and non-mother-tongue instruction leading to grade repetition.

Opportunities for higher education for refugees are particularly lacking.

Quality of education for refugees

The quality of education for refugees who are enrolled in schools is often very low, with high student–teacher ratios, poor facilities, and lack of safety for children in schools and on the way to school.

Curriculum: The curriculum of the country of origin is the one that is most relevant to the recently displaced, since qualifications gained can be recognised on their return. But most refugees live in protracted displacement and few return to their place of origin. Integration into the host education system and its curriculum is the preferred norm of the UNHCR. Educators often include elements from the country of origin curricula to teach alongside host country curricula, and may add subjects like human rights and peacebuilding.

Medium of instruction and language learning: Having to learn the language of the host country and adapt to education in a new medium of instruction is a major barrier. Strategies used to address this include the provision of language classes for refugees, and using a bilingual curriculum in refugee schools to support transition into local schools.

Pedagogy and teacher competence: Teachers recruited to teach in refugee schools are often unqualified. Their training courses are often short and do not lead to formal qualifications. In some contexts these teachers lack confidence, and do not see themselves as real teachers. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of materials, and unfamiliarity with the language of instruction also have a negative impact on the quality of teaching.

Assessment: Refugees face a number of challenges concerning assessment. These include:

  • lack of access to formal assessment opportunities such as national examinations
  • lack of recognition of certain credentials and qualifications
  • lack of recognition of prior learning

Protection and wellbeing of refugees in and through education

Education can be a source of protection for refugee children. However, the protective effects of education are diminished when it is of low quality. Schools and other educational interventions can themselves be sites of violence or targets for attack. In addition, teachers who lack adequate training may use corporal punishment to maintain classroom discipline.

Section 4: The state of research, policy, and Practice in IDP Education

The situation of IDPs is often less visible to the international community than that of refugees.

  • IDPs in camps may have access to non-formal learning spaces or primary schools supported by the international community, but have very limited access to secondary education
  • IDPs outside of camps tend to receive less access and support from international humanitarian organisations, but may have better access to local schools
  • Returning IDPs may face challenges in having their learning during displacement recognised
  • For demobilised child soldiers, education is an important part of the reintegration process, as it provides social and emotional development as well as academic learning

Coordination and funding of IDP education

The legal responsibility for provision of education to IDPs lies with the national government. In the absence of provision by the state, IDP communities often set up their own schools.

International support for education for IDPs is generally treated as a short-term humanitarian response; however, many IDPs live in protracted displacement. Education tends to be a high priority for IDPs themselves, but has tended to be a low priority for humanitarian actors.

The education cluster plays a central role in coordinating support for IDP education. It can provide an effective platform for partnership with the international community and national governments.

Access to education for IDPs

A substantial proportion of IDP children are not enrolled in school, although the exact numbers are unknown. Access to education for IDPs is highly context-dependent.

IDPs face numerous barriers to education, especially girls and women. Many of the barriers are similar to those faced by other conflict and crisis-affected populations, but IDPs are more vulnerable due to the loss of livelihood, home, and possessions. School fees are one of the most significant barriers for IDPs. Other barriers particular to IDPs include:

  • lack of education providers within or near camps and other IDP settlements
  • loss of documentation
  • inability to meet residency requirements for school enrolment

Common strategies used by national governments in providing education for IDPs include:

  • expanding school capacity in host areas through multi-shift schooling
  • relaxing requirements for IDPs to have uniforms or documentation for enrolment
  • fee waivers

Strategies commonly used by the international community, often in partnership with national governments, include:

  • child-friendly spaces and temporary learning spaces
  • supplying teaching and learning materials such as “school in a box”
  • hiring IDP teachers, especially female teachers, to teach in IDP camps
  • issuing IDPs with temporary documentation
  • school feeding programmes and take-home rations
  • providing alternative education classes, including accelerated learning classes
  • school voucher programmes

In the first instance, UNICEF and other actors often provide Child Friendly Spaces. However, IDP children and families have voiced that they prefer formal education over structured play and non-formal education.

UNICEF uses “school in a box” kits that contain basic teaching and learning materials. It keeps a stockpile which can be rapidly deployed in emergencies. In prolonged displacement, locally procured kits provide a more culturally appropriate and value-for-money approach.

There are often very few opportunities for IDPs to continue studying post-primary. Education programming for “youth” (generally 15 years and older) in IDP situations often focuses on providing technical and vocational skills.

Quality of education and learning outcomes

In many cases the quality of education available to IDPs is far below the INEE’s Minimum Standards for Education.

There are very few studies on the learning outcomes of IDPs. A study in Sri Lanka found that there was a significant learning achievement deficit (1.5 to 3 years) associated with displacement. Evaluations of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s alternative education programmes for IDPs indicate that completion rates and learning outcomes for children in these programmes were similar to or better than those of children in mainstream schools.

Teacher recruitment, training, compensation, and wellbeing

Teachers in schools serving IDPs are often given incentives rather than a salary. International agencies are reluctant to support salaries due to concerns over sustainability and funding. But incentives often fail to attract qualified teachers. As a result, organisations often have to seek new potential teachers and provide basic training. Governments rarely agree to recognise these unqualified teachers, hence teachers in IDP camps can remain reliant on NGO incentives.

Many NGOs have developed their own teacher training courses. The most effective ones tend to place a heavy emphasis on classroom-based support, classroom observations, regular supervision, and ongoing workshops.

Refugees who qualify as teachers under a host country system may find that their government does not recognise their qualifications on their return. Regional certification of teachers can help to address this issue.

Protection and wellbeing of IDPs in and through education

Some IDP schools have become targets for attack and recruitment of child soldiers. However, quality education can also help to protect IDP children, including by:

  • providing a safe space for children to spend time
  • teaching skills and knowledge to children to protect themselves from exploitation, health risks, gender-based violence, land mines, and other risks
  • supporting children’s psychosocial well-being
  • providing sites where children can receive other support such as vaccinations and counselling

Impacts on host communities and education systems

In many emergencies, schools are used to provide temporary accommodation for IDPs, reducing access to education for host communities. Tensions can arise when IDPs are seen as being in competition for limited resources, or when they are seen as being given preferential treatment.

Gaps and challenges

Evidence and knowledge gaps

There is a need for more robust data, analysis, and research, including data on needs, availability, quality, and outcomes of education for IDPs and refugees living outside of camps.

There is a gap in the research when it comes to understanding the protracted nature of forced displacement and the individual and community educational trajectories and experiences. Robust longitudinal data are lacking.

Common challenges to education for refugees and IDPs

Provision of post-primary education and training opportunities for adolescents and youth remains a major gap, requiring increased support from national and international actors, and exploration of innovative means of providing cost-effective access to education for this group.

Given the protracted nature of forced displacement, the international donor community needs to develop medium- to long-term flexible funding and implementation mechanisms for education for refugees and IDPs. Progress has been made through the Global Partnership for Education, and it is hoped that the new education in emergencies platform will address this gap.

Challenges specific to refugee education

Since mainstreaming of refugees into national education systems has become a preferred option, there is an urgent need for relevant and meaningful curriculum and assessment systems and a better understanding of how to meet specific learning needs, including those to do with language of instruction and assessment, disabilities, gender, and ethnicity.

The quality of UNRWA schools relative to other schools in the region has been attributed in part to UNRWA’s teacher training programmes and ongoing support mechanisms, but standards are falling. There is a need to determine how to maintain standards and to transfer lessons learned to other protracted refugee situations.

Challenges specific to IDP education

National capacity to address IDP education needs to be strengthened. This should cover inclusion of IDPs in education sector plans, Educational Management Information Systems and budgets, and contingency planning to reduce the disruption of education in the event of unforeseen future displacement crises.

Improved national-level planning and international support is needed to improve teacher recruitment and compensation in IDP situations, including strategies to retain qualified teachers.

Governments’ legal responsibility to protect IDPs’ right to education needs to be strengthened through the development of legal frameworks at global, regional, and national levels.

Section 5: Opportunities, innovations, and best practice in education for forcibly displaced people

The range of approaches described in section 5 of the report, summarized here in table 0.2, represents a menu of potentially productive strategies, rather than a definitive list of “what works”.

Table 0.2   Potentially productive strategies

Issue addressed Strategies and interventions
Supporting impacted communities
  • Support to education interventions initiated by displaced people themselves
  • Cash transfers
Ensuring protection, psychosocial support, and safe spaces, and building resilience
  • Training teachers and parents to cope with traumatised children, alongside self-regulation exercises for children
  • After-school programmes providing academic support, problem-solving skills and nurturing positive peer relationships.
  • Using schools as a site for delivering mental health interventions
Addressing disruptions in learning
  • Accelerated learning programmes (ALPs) support overage children to catch up on missed learning time.
  • The Youth Education Pack, developed by the NRC, is a one-year full-time education package which provides training in literacy and numeracy, livelihood skills training and life-skills for youth aged 15-24, who have missed out on schooling
Addressing problems of space
  • Using mobile money transfers to pay teachers
  • Using mobiles for real-time school data collection
  • Using radio to deliver lesson content
  • Using mobile phones and tablets to enable interactive learning
  • Mobile schools (e.g. schools in a boat or bus)
Building teaching capacity and wellbeing
  • The Teacher Emergency Package: a package of self-study materials, on-going training and school materials
  • Deploying female teaching assistants to support girls
  • Interagency collaboration in the sharing and development of new teacher training and management resources
Improving higher education
  • Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI) scholarship programme
  • Learning hubs in Kenyan refugee camps, offering blended higher education courses including humanitarian interpreter training
  • Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) which provides modular certificated courses that build incrementally to a degree
Strengthening capacity for accreditation and certification
  • Cross-border and regional examinations
  • Accreditation of distance-learning by universities in the country of origin
  • Development of recognition agreements between governments
  • Use of placement tests to enable students lacking documentation to enrol in the most appropriate grade
  • Working with governments to enable IDPs to sit examinations (e.g. logistical support, changing examination dates to accommodate IDPs)
Improving data and monitoring
  • OpenEMIS
  • Use of GPS technology to access school data in remote areas
  • Satellite and drone imagery to identify IDP settlements and shelters in hard-to-access areas

 

Section 1: Introduction

1.1 Introduction and overview

According to UNICEF (2016), nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders around the world, or been forcibly displaced. Given that such displacement can last the duration of a typical school career, failure to provide education for these groups risks the emergence of a “lost generation”.

The umbrella term “forcibly displaced person” covers both refugee.s, i.e. those who have been forced to flee across national borders, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), i.e. those who have had to move within their own countries. Refugees and IDPs are defined differently in relation to international law, and their situations differ markedly regarding level of access to education, assistance/protection available from governments (whether the host government or that of their own country) and the international community, and continuity/discontinuity in educational experiences (Smith Ellison and Smith 2012). Some sections of this guide cover issues relevant to both groups, other sections treat them separately.

This topic guide serves as a technical guide to support DFID advisors, education specialists, and other partners working on providing education for refugees and IDPs. Its purpose is threefold:

  • to map the state of research, policy, and practice in refugee education today
  • to map the state of research, policy, and practice in IDP education today
  • to identify and explore best practice, and existing and potential future opportunities and innovations in the field of education and forced displacement

This topic guide is not intended to be a comprehensive document covering all the issues relating to the right to education for forcibly displaced persons. Rather, it is an overview of the key issues facing decision-makers and other education stakeholders, and it signposts relevant sources for further information and reading. For a review of the wider literature on Education in Emergencies (including some research on forcibly displaced people), which also evaluates the quality of research according to DFID’s (2014) guidelines Assessing the Strength of Evidence, readers are referred to Burde et al. (2015).

1.2 Methodology and sources used for this review

This guide is based on an extensive (though not systematic) review of scholarly and grey literature (e.g. agency reports, evaluations, guidance documents). In consultation with an academic advisor, the authors conducted an initial purposive literature search using key academic and practitioner databases, including Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Education Research Complete, EBSCOHost, Eldis, and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation. The list of resources generated from these searches was reviewed and supplemented with documents suggested by individuals working at the global level with DFID, INEE, UNHCR, and UNICEF.

In general, there is a limited evidence base on the effectiveness of educational interventions for refugees and IDPs; this is in large part due to the challenging environments in which displaced people find themselves, which hinders systematic study. Nevertheless, a number of useful studies are available. Appendix A provides a full review and discussion of the strength of evidence in the sources referred to throughout this report.

1.3 How to use this guide

This guide has been written for a wide range of audiences, with differing background knowledge and information needs. It is designed so that readers can select the sections most relevant to themselves.

Section 2 sets out the global situation in terms of the numbers of forcibly displaced people, their locations, and the international aid architecture. The first part (2.1 to 2.3) relates to forced displacement in general. It gives the definitions, the numbers, the distribution and the trajectories of populations in forced displacement. This is aimed at education experts who are relatively new to the field of forced displacement. Those already familiar with the field may wish to skip these sections. The second part (2.3 to 2.7) gives a global overview of education and forced displacement. It includes a discussion on education for refugees and IDPs, challenges of data collection and monitoring, and an overview of the global coordinating structures for the international response to the needs. Readers seeking a quick overview of the defining characteristics of refugee and IDP education should refer to table 2.3 in section 2.4.

Sections 3 and 4 set out the state of research, policy, and practice in education for refugees and IDPs respectively. These have been written as stand-alone sections so that users of this guide can select the section most relevant to their own work.

Section 5 reviews innovations and best practice in education for forcibly displaced populations; many of these innovations are, or have the potential to be, applied to both refugee and IDP contexts. This section will be useful to those wanting to consider a range of possible solutions for providing education in these contexts. Many of the interventions discussed are relatively new or have been led by implementing organisations with limited research capacity, and therefore the evidence base for this section is relatively weak. A full discussion of the quality of evidence of the sources used throughout this report is provided in Appendix A.

Section 2: Forced Displacement and Education: A Global Overview

section-2-summary-box

2.1   What is forced displacement?

The Global Program on Forced Displacement defines forced displacement as “the situation of persons who are forced to leave or flee their homes due to conflict, violence and human rights violations” (GPFD 2015). Forced displacement can also occur due to natural disasters and large-scale development projects; this topic guide will focus primarily on conflict-related displacement, and secondarily on that associated with natural disasters, as these are generally recognised as priorities for the international education community. This is not, however, intended to downplay the significance of development-induced displacement.[1]

Table 2.1 provides definitions for the key terms used to describe the populations that are the focus of this topic guide. Note that the application of these terms is often legally and politically contested. For a more comprehensive glossary of key terms, see Appendix B. 

Table 2.1   Definitions of key terms

Term Definition
Refugee

 

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country.”
Palestinian Refugee A Palestinian refugee is a person whose residence was Palestine for at least two years before losing home and livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict, or a descendant of such a person. While the definition ‘refugee’ emphasises the legal dimensions of the term, the definition of ‘a Palestinian refugee’ is more operational and exists primarily to identify persons eligible for services from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), who today reside in Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon (Feldman 2012). Palestinian women cannot retain or pass on their status to descendants if they marry a non-refugee, though descendants of male UNRWA refugees can (Bocco 2010).
Asylum-Seeker

 

‘Asylum seeker’ refers to an individual seeking international protection, whose claim to refugee status has not been definitively evaluated as yet. Not every asylum seeker will be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee was initially an asylum seeker (UNHCR 2006).
Internally Displaced Person (IDP)

 

The most common definition of IDPs is the one presented by the UN Secretary-General in 1992, which identifies them as “persons who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers, as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or man-made disasters, and who are within the territory of their own country” (Forced Migration Online 2012).
Returnee

 

A returnee is an individual who was displaced but who has recently returned to her/his country of origin (in the case of refugees) or place of origin (in the case of IDPs) (UNHCR 2006). For the purposes of this topic guide, returnees are discussed in the IDP section, because refugees who have returned to their home country are likely to be displaced within their origin country borders.
Person of Concern

 

“A person whose protection and assistance needs are of interest to UNHCR. This includes refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless people, internally displaced people and returnees” (UNHRC n.d.).
Separated/Unaccompanied Children

 

The Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children defines separated children as “those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may, therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members.” It defines unaccompanied children/minors as “children who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so” (ICRC 2004). Children are entitled to special protection under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), but it has proven difficult to include separated children and adolescents within the protective scope of international refugee law (Bhabha 2014).

The emergencies that lead to displacement are generally complex. They result from a range of factors, including political instability, conflict, violence, inequality, and poverty, and are often exacerbated by natural disasters, health emergencies, and environmental instability (FAO 2016). Many such emergencies are protracted: long-term, and characterised by recurrent conflict and/or natural disaster, weak governance capacity, chronic food crises, etc. (FAO 2016). Crawford et al. (2015) define ‘protracted displacement’ broadly as “a situation in which refugees and/or IDPs have been in exile for three years or more, and where the process for finding durable solutions, such as repatriation, absorption in host communities or settlement in third locations, has stalled”; they note that it can be difficult to determine a cut-off date for when displacement can be considered protracted, resulting in some disagreements between international agencies and scholars.

2.2   Patterns of forced displacement

For 2015 the total number of forcibly displaced was 65.3 million (21.3 million refugees, 40.8 million IDPs, 3.2 million asylum seekers), the highest figure in history. This year also saw the highest annual increase of forcibly displaced peoples in any single year (UNHCR 2016i). The number of forcedly displaced people has grown by approximately 1.6 million annually between 2000 and 2014 (Crawford et al. 2015) but jumped by 5.8 million in 2014-15 (UNHCR 2016i).

Geographies of displacement are in a constant state of flux. The top ten countries of origin of people displaced by conflict and persecution in 2014 were: Syria (19.4%), Colombia (10.8%), Israel (8.7%),[2] Sudan (6.4%), Iraq (6.3%), Afghanistan (5.9%), DRC (5.6%), Pakistan (3.8%), Somalia (3.8%), and South Sudan (3.6%). Table 2.2 gives the breakdown of IDPs and refugees in countries with large displacement crises in 2014. Most of the ten countries with displacement crises caused by conflict involve both refugees and IDPs in varying numbers. Note that while increasing numbers of refugees are making their way to HICs, the focus of this topic guide is on education for refugees in LMICs, as this is where the majority of refugees are located.

The numbers of IDPs displaced by disasters fluctuates year to year, but the overall trend has been increasing. Models adjusting for population growth show that the probability of being displaced by a disaster is 60% higher today than it was four decades ago. Between 2008 and 2014 there have been on average five disasters per year that have led to the displacement of over a million people. Natural-disaster-induced displacement occurs in countries at all income levels, but middle-income countries tend to be the most impacted by such disasters, and the consequent displacement, due to their high levels of urban growth with limited associated services (IDMC 2015b).

Table 2.2   IDPs and refugees in countries with large displacement crises in 2014 (Source: Crawford et al. 2015, p. 9)

Top ten countries of displacement % of caseload[3] internally displaced % of caseload externally displaced
Syria 66% 34%
Colombia 94% 6%
Israel 0% 100%
Sudan 82% 18%
Iraq 87% 13%
Afghanistan 23% 77%
DRC 83% 17%
Pakistan 83% 17%
Somalia 49% 51%
South Sudan 71% 29%

According to UNHCR data, 50% of refugees in 2014 were female, a slight increase on recent years. The proportion of children under the age of 18 among refugees increased from 41% in 2009 to 51% in 2014 and 2015 (UNHCR 2014c, UNHCR 2016i). The limited data on IDPs disaggregated by sex indicate that the proportion of women to men tends to match that of the general population, but with slightly more women.

2.3  Trajectories and duration of forced displacement

Most displacement crises last for years, if not decades. According to recent studies, once displaced for six months, refugees are highly likely to end up in a state of protracted displacement. Over the past decade, two fifths of all refugees were displaced for three or more years at any one time (Crawford et al. 2015). Further, in two thirds of all countries monitored for conflict-induced displacement in 2014, at least half of all internally displaced persons (IDPs) had been displaced for over three years. It is often assumed that forced displacement due to disasters will be short term; however, although the data is limited, IDMC evidence suggests that disasters can also lead to protracted displacement, such as in Haiti,[4] where conflict and disasters overlap (Hyndman 2011).

Most forcibly displaced people in protracted exile are unlikely to see what is known as a ‘durable’ solution to their displacement (i.e. returning ‘home’, integrating into the place of exile, or resettling elsewhere) (Crawford et al. 2015). It is often difficult for refugees to return to their country of origin;[5] only small numbers of refugees are successful in integrating in the countries that do accept refugees (McCarthy and Vickers 2012), and only 1% of refugees globally are resettled to a third country (UNHCR 2014b). Many refugees and IDPs have experienced multiple displacements, such as the IDPs in Kivu provinces in DRC (IDMC 2015a), and Palestinian refugees living in Syria who have been further displaced by the conflict there.

2.4   Education and forced displacement

Forced displacement inevitably leads to a temporary or permanent halt in a child’s school career. Education opportunities in situations of displacement are often very limited, and refugees and IDPs face numerous additional barriers to accessing education (see Sects. 3 and 4). In general, forcibly displaced persons are less likely to access education than their non-migrant peers (Dryden-Peterson 2011).  However, forced displacement does not universally lead to a reduction in access to education;  where families are forced to flee from areas with very few schools to urban areas or organised camps with more schools, displacement can in fact increase access to education (Ferris and Winthrop 2010).

Research suggests that non-formal and formal education opportunities of a reasonably high standard can provide a certain level of psychosocial protection and support for forcibly displaced peoples, as regular education activities can help to restore a sense of stability and hope among affected populations (Dryden-Peterson 2015, Shah 2015a). High-quality education that emphasises learning and pays particular attention to the varied needs of forcibly displaced peoples has the potential for societal benefits, including community cohesion, in addition to individual benefits (Dryden-Peterson 2015, McCorriston 2012). The EiE community of practice emphasises that education has lifesaving (short-term) and life-sustaining (longer-term) aims (INEE 2016). However, research also indicates that the education generally available for forcibly displaced persons is of such low quality that it commonly fails to exercise this protective dimension (Dryden-Peterson 2011). 

Table 2.3   Comparing education for IDPs and Refugees (Sources: UNHCR 2015a, UNHCR 2016i, IDMC 2015a, IDMC 2015b, Ferris and Winthrop 2010)

  Refugees IDPs
Causes of displacement (according to UN definition)

 

Persecution

 

Armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights, or natural or man-made disasters

 

Place of refuge

 

Outside their own country

 

Within their own country

 

Global numbers (2015)

 

21.3 million refugees
3.2 million asylum seekers
40.8 million displaced by conflict, persecution, generalised violence, or human rights violations (including 8.6 million newly displaced in 2015). This figure does not include those displaced by natural disasters.
Bodies responsible for ensuring the right to education

 

UNHCR, host governments, UNRWA for Palestinian refugees

 

National governments
UNICEF for returnees (UNHCR 1997)
Global legal frameworks and conventions

 

1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees

 

1998 UN Guiding Principles on IDPs (not legally binding)

 

Regional Instruments

 

1969 OAU convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa

1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees

2009 African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention)[6]

 

Durable solutions

 

  • voluntary repatriation
  • integration into the asylum country,
  • resettlement to a third country

 

  • return and reintegration in place of origin
  • integration in the area of displacement
  • integration in another part of the country

 

Monitoring

 

UNHCR/UNRWA Responsibility of national governments, collected by national governments and humanitarian organisations (e.g. UNICEF), collated by IDMC

 

Implementing bodies

 

UNHCR, host governments, UNICEF, INGOs, NGOs, FBOs, UNRWA

 

National governments, FBOs, UNICEF, UNHCR, INGOs

 

Coordinating bodies

 

UNHCR

UNRWA

Cluster (global and national), UN OCHA

 

The educational trajectories experienced by displaced people are generally interrupted, diverted, and/or stalled (Dryden-Peterson 2015). Education is often planned as a temporary stop-gap measure in camps or urban settlements; yet the reality is that many individuals will remain displaced for a period equivalent to a complete schooling cycle. The likelihood that forcibly displaced peoples are able to develop key literacy, numeracy, socio-emotional, and vocational skills in makeshift learning environments is low. Individuals who do return ‘home’, or resettle in a new place, are often not prepared to (re)integrate into the formal schooling system, or do not have relevant or recognised education credentials, or face barriers to school participation, including the language of the curriculum, discrimination, past trauma, bullying, and exclusion (Dryden-Peterson 2015).

Table 2.3 compares refugees and IDPs according to global numbers, legal frameworks and bodies involved with the monitoring and provision of education. While there is a strong international legal framework for the protection of refugees’ right to education, and two UN bodies mandated to ensure that these rights are upheld, there is no equivalent legally binding agreement or set of UN structures dedicated to upholding the rights of IDPs.

2.5   Problems with data collection and monitoring in the field of forced displacement

The UNHCR was mandated in 1951 to collect and disseminate global statistics on refugees (UNHCR 2014c). Most countries (164 in 2014) report sex-disaggregated data on refugees. The availability of age-disaggregated data is more limited, with less than a third of UNHCR’s data disaggregated by age in 2014 (UNHCR 2014c).

The collection of data on IDPs is much more problematic. There is no single accepted definition of who counts as an IDP, nor any clear point at which they can be classed as having reached a durable solution. Because IDPs remain within their country, there may be no legal requirement to register as an IDP. Distribution of assistance may be an incentive to register, but this is often offset by a fear of misuse of data and of being associated with a party to the conflict. Political issues around the official acknowledgement of IDPs can also impact on national datasets. In general, comprehensive data sets do not exist (IDMC 2015a; 2015b). There is no equivalent body to the UNHCR in charge of supervising and maintaining data at field level. IDPs displaced by conflict are sometimes in areas of high insecurity that are inaccessible to humanitarian organisations.

The Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC’s) Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) compiles data on IDPs (and refugees) collected by governments, international humanitarian and development organisations, NGOs and research institutes. The data are triangulated and validated with field visits and research by the IDMC, but ultimately they remain estimates and are not directly comparable country to country. In the early stages of an emergency, data on newly displaced people are reasonably well tracked, but as crises become protracted, and situations of displacement become complicated by returns and new rounds of displacement, the data collected often drops off and estimates on the number of IDPs become less accurate. Data disaggregated by age and sex are only available to IDMC in a minority (17 out of 60) of the countries that they monitor.

Table 2.4 shows the advantages and disadvantages of various data collection methods for measuring access to education for forcibly displaced people (see Appendix A for a broader discussion of the quality of the evidence in the studies used in this report).

Collecting data on refugees and IDPs in organised camps can be relatively straightforward, as the displaced people and the service providers are gathered together in one site. Surveys can be conducted amongst camp residents and data can be collected on the quantity and quality of education services provided. Nonetheless, in some situations, particularly in spontaneous camps and cases of IDP camps where the government may be implicated in the displacement, negotiating access to camps by outsiders can be difficult.

Table 2.4   Advantages and disadvantages of various data collection methods on access to education

Data collection method Advantages Disadvantages
School administrative data

(used for Education Management Information Systems)

  • Relatively cheap
  • Collected routinely
  • Comprehensive data for children enrolled in public schools

 

  • Prone to over-reporting of enrolment by schools
  • May omit some education providers (e.g. non-formal schools)
  • Reliant on good census data to calculate enrolment rates
Large scale census / household survey

(e.g. UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey)

  • Reliable source of data on school participation rates (more reliable than administrative data)
  • Can disaggregate data by wealth, ethnicity, age and other markers
  • Expensive
  • Long time lag between data collection and publication
  • Omit children not living in traditional households
Rapid needs assessments
  • Data available quickly
  • Less reliable
  • Lack detail
  • Education may have low priority in multisector assessments

However, the majority of refugees and IDPs live outside camps (UNHCR 2014c, IDMC 2015a). Collecting data on displaced people in private accommodation is difficult, as the displaced populations are often dispersed among the host populations. While refugees generally need to register to access local services, this is not always the case with IDPs, who may not be registered and may not wish to be identified as coming from conflict areas. It may be difficult to identify which, if any, education service providers are being accessed by displaced populations. Therefore much less is known about the numbers of displaced people living outside camps and their levels of access to and quality of education. In many cases, IDPs living outside camps are effectively ‘invisible’ from a data perspective (IDMC 2015a).

Many key international indicators are defined based on the children’s ages and official school ages.[7] For example, net enrolment ratios (NER) refer to the enrolments of the official age group for any given level of education, expressed as a percentage of the population in that age group. However, age-disaggregated data are not available in the majority of cases of forced displacement, though for refugees the level of detail of age-disaggregated data available is increasing. When age data are not available, gross enrolment ratios (GER) are used instead, although these tend to overestimate enrolment, especially in the presence of overage children who have had their educational journeys disrupted by forced displacement (Dryden-Peterson 2015). These enrolment estimates may be further skewed because unregistered refugees and IDPs are often missing from the data. Thus, systematic data on education for refugees is very limited, and for IDPs even more so. Innovative approaches to data collection and monitoring are noted in section 5.10.

2.6   Coordination of education in emergencies and forced displacement

It can be challenging for national governments to interact with and coordinate the wide variety of actors offering support in situations of forced displacement. Lack of coordination can lead to duplication in some areas and gaps of provision elsewhere. Inconsistencies in implementation can become a source of tension (for example with different approaches to teacher incentives). However, there are a number of initiatives designed to overcome the challenge of coordination.

Founded in 2000, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) has over 12,000 individual members and 130 partner organisations in 170 countries. The network has developed multiple tools for working in education in emergency situations, and provides platforms for knowledge sharing, policy influence, and advocacy work. Tools include the INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response and Recovery, and the INEE Conflict Sensitive Education Pack. The INEE has commissioned a range of assessments and evaluations of the use, awareness, and impact of its Minimum Standards, including a number of country evaluations, and these are published on its website.

The Global Education Cluster was established in 2007 as a central coordination mechanism for the international community during humanitarian crises. It is co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children. In 2016 there were 21 active country-level clusters. The Cluster does not have a specific mandate to address refugee situations, but is actively involved in many IDP situations (see also Sect. 4.3).

No Lost Generation is a coordinated global response to the Syria conflict. It is a multi-agency initiative designed to put education and child protection at the centre of the international response. It supports education initiatives and protection initiatives for refugees in the region and conflict-affected groups inside Syria, including IDPs. Partners include UN agencies, bilateral donors, and international NGOs.

2.7   Funding for education in emergencies and forced displacement

Figure 2.1 shows the percentage of humanitarian funds allocated to education between 2000 and 2014. As can be seen, the percentage of humanitarian aid allocated to education is erratic and has never gone above 5% as a global average. Support to refugee and IDP education constitutes only a portion of this funding. Education in situations of protracted displacement faces particular funding shortages due to the problem of donor fatigue (Oh 2012).

Recent years have seen the emergence of new global partnerships in education which have the potential to address at least part of the financing gap. Examples include the Global Business Coalition for Education, which has recently pledged to support Syrian refugees. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)[8] has developed new mechanisms through which national governments can apply for funds to support education in emergencies, including education for IDPs and refugees.

Case File: Chad

Chad joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in 2012. The GPE has shown a strong commitment to supporting education for refugees in Chad, in addition to education for national populations (GPE 2016a). The government applied to the GPE and received emergency funding of 6.95 million USD to address urgent education needs for refugee and returnee children in the Lake Chad region for 2016-2017. The funding will be used to support the construction of over 100 classrooms (permanent and temporary), wells and latrines, and to provide more than 60,000 textbooks and other school supplies, as well as school feeding for more than 8,500 children. More than 800 teachers will receive training. Micronutrients and parasite treatment will also be provided to students in the entire Lake Chad region. Finally, youth training programmes for more than 1,000 youth are currently being planned (GPE 2016b).

Figure 2.1   Percentage of humanitarian aid allocated to education (based on data from the OCHA Financial Tracking Service, available at: https://fts.unocha.org/pageloader.aspx?page=home)

figure-2-1

In mid-2016 the Education Cannot Wait fund was launched,[9] designed to generate political and financial commitment to meeting the education needs of children and young people affected by crisis. This is intended to be achieved through a high-level global partnership focused on improving the timeliness and sustainability of education responses in crisis settings. It will be initially hosted by UNICEF until a permanent host is identified. The initial framing paper for the fund was based on a thorough review of evidence (Nicolai et al. 2015) and it has been backed by strong political will so far.[10]

 

[1] Research suggests that development-induced displacement (which tends to occur within national borders) affects more people than conflict-induced displacement and disproportionately affects indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and the poor (Forced Migration Online 2012).

[2] Palestinian refugees who make up UNRWA’s entire caseload. See the definition of Palestinian refugee in table 2.1.

[3] ‘Caseload’ refers to the number of individuals/cases of concern to UNHCR and other partners working with forcibly displaced persons.

[4] For example, five years after the earthquake in Haiti, around 65,000 IDPs were still living in temporary or transitional camps (IDMC 2015b).

[5] ‘Returnees’ are discussed in the section on IDP education (Sect. 4.2.3).

[6] There is no universal legal instrument protecting the rights of IDPs. The Kampala Convention is a rare example of a regional instrument protecting IDP rights.

[7] UNESCO uses the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) age ranges for levels of schooling. These differ from country to country and in some cases differ from national definitions of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ school ages.

[8] The Global Partnership for Education was founded in 2002. It comprises 65 developing countries and more than 20 donor governments, as well as international organisations, the private sector, and foundations, teachers, and civil society/NGOs. The GPE works to develop effective and sustainable education systems, mobilise technical and financial resources, and ensure that those resources are coordinated and used efficiently.

[9] See website at http://www.educationcannotwait.org/.

[10] This work was underpinned by a two-phase international consultation exercise faciliated by INEE. Documentation can be found on the INEE website, http://www.ineesite.org/en/eie-global-consultation-phase-i and http://www.ineesite.org/en/eie-global-consultation-phase-ii.

 

Section 3: State of Research, Policy, and Practice in Refugee Education

section-3-summary-box

3.1   Introduction

The Refugee Crisis: At A Glance

  • 21.3 million refugees and 3.2 asylum-seekers worldwide in 2015 (UNHCR 2015i)
  • 14.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate
  • 5.1 million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s mandate
  • Over 85% of refugees are in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)
  • Increasing numbers are seeking asylum in High Income Countries (HICs)
  • In 2011, average time spent by refugees in displacement due to the 30 major protracted crises was 20 years (up from 9 years in the early 1990s) (Milner and Loescher 2011)
  • In 2012, 75% of the international refugee caseload had been displaced for more than 5 years (UNHCR 2012)

The 2011 Global Review on Refugee Education found that access to education for refugees is “limited and uneven across regions and settings of displacement, and particularly at secondary levels and for girls.” According UNHCR’s Age, Gender, and Diversity: Accountability Report (UNHCR 2015b), approximately 3.2 million school-aged refugee children and adolescents are out of school. Refugee children and youth are often excluded from educational opportunities due to restrictive legal/policy frameworks, lack of necessary documentation, language barriers, limited educational institutions, discrimination, poverty and child labour (UNHCR 2015a). Access issues are often magnified for refugee children and youth who are female, have disabilities, have experienced trauma (including school-related gender-based violence), are separated, unaccompanied, or orphans, are associated with armed groups, are married or pregnant, are over-age, and/or belong to minority groups (UNHCR 2015c; see also UNHCR 2016h).

The quality of refugee education is generally low and uneven at all levels. Student–teacher ratios are on average quite high, leading to overcrowding and a disruptive learning environment (Dryden-Peterson 2015). Teaching capacity and support for educators is limited, leading to protection risks in schools (UNHCR 2015e). While the number of trained teachers is rising, it is still well below the UNHCR goal of 80% (Dryden-Peterson 2015). Inadequate teacher compensation also emerges as a significant problem in refugee education, and in education in emergencies more generally. Salaries have a dramatic impact on recruitment and retention of teachers, job satisfaction, teacher morale, and class size, all factors which ultimately impact the quality of educational provision (Dolan et al. 2012). As refugees often do not have the right to work, they may be compensated through a stipend rather than a salary proper, but such stipends are often inadequate.

Finally, protection and wellbeing concerns can limit refugee education. In many contexts community engagement and efforts to improve social cohesion are lacking, distances between home and school are large (which poses risks for children, especially girls, and female teachers), Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities are of poor quality and non-inclusive, and there is limited cultural understanding: these are further barriers to ensuring quality education for refugees (UNHCR 2015c).

These issues are explored in more depth below in terms of coordination, funding, access, quality, and protection and wellbeing. As noted by Thompson (2013), for many of the issues raised in this topic guide, the evidence base is quite limited. As a result, a range of literature has been reviewed, from formal scholarships to so-called ‘grey’ literature (such as reports, policy documents and briefs, evaluations, etc.). Appendix A provides a full discussion of the quality of evidence found in the sources used for this topic guide.

3.2   Coordination of refugee education

Education for refugees and asylum seekers in LMICs is the responsibility of the governments that have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or 1967 Protocol,[1] the UNHCR, and any organisations with a mandate to protect the rights of refugees to education. Education services for refugees are implemented through a range of Implementing Partners (IPs) and, where possible, in coordination with national ministries of education. In addition, refugee communities frequently initiate education programmes and interventions themselves, though often they are limited in their abilities to coordinate activities. Recent research suggests that networks of resettled refugee diaspora also support education for other refugees through remittances, advice, etc. (Lindley 2007, Dryden-Peterson and Dahya 2016).

Palestinian refugees are not included in the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, and do not come under UNHCR’s mandate. Education for Palestinian refugees is technically the shared responsibility of UNRWA,[2] host governments (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and West Bank), and a range of NGOs operating in the area, though the degree of coordination and provision varies significantly depending on the particular context.[3]

Case File: Coordination of education response for Palestinian refugees

UNRWA’s education programme is its most significant programme, having been identified as a priority shortly after UNRWA’s inception and then set up through a partnership with UNESCO (World Bank 2014). The importance of schools and education for UNRWA and Palestinian refugees themselves is highlighted in a recent qualitative study: “Schools formed the nucleus of each and every refugee camp, the centre around which all other activities revolved. Education, vocational training, self-support, health care, and continued relief for the needy became the primary blueprint for UNRWA’s operations” (Shabaneh 2012). In addition, education makes up the largest budget item for UNRWA, at 59% of the budget in 2008, compared to 4% of the UNHCR budget in 2010 (Dryden-Peterson 2011).

UNRWA’s Education Programme is managed by the Unit for Administration and Governance at UNRWA Headquarters. UNRWA’s Department of Education provides guidance, policies, and support to its Education Officers, who traditionally have mostly been Palestinian (Shabaneh 2012). UNRWA trains all of its teachers and school administrators (who are mostly drawn from the Palestinian refugee community). It has created Education Development Centres, which act in similar ways to Boards of Education, supporting staff and curriculum development, providing a centralised bureaucracy and coordination mechanism for all academic activities, and creating a sense of cohesion across all of UNRWA’s five fields of operation (Shabaneh 2012). In total, UNRWA employs 21,924 educational staff, including officers, administrators, and teachers (UNRWA n.d.-c). The implementation of education is decentralised, with project/programme planning carried out over a fairly short period of time, and various components linked strategically through a common, harmonised results framework (World Bank 2014).

In 2011, the UNRWA education programme began a major four-year reform to meet the evolving demands of an education system in the twenty-first century (UNRWA 2011). The strategy was developed with consideration for the fluctuating nature of UNRWA’s external operating context, given that the organisation would be impacted by the ever-changing political, social, and economic climate of the region (UNRWA n.d.-b). (See Appendix D for a review of education provision for Palestinian refugees; see Appendix E for a list of key policy and strategy documents written as part of the 2011 Education Reform.)

In a recent World Bank study examining education in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, it was found that UNRWA and public schools in these areas share a number of similarities as regards management: both have limited autonomy when it comes to budget, financing, and staffing (World Bank 2014). However, UNRWA has a world-class assessment system, and demonstrates higher levels of accountability than public schools. A number of NGOs and grassroots organisations have emerged in the region which fill gaps left by UNRWA due to lack of resources, notably in the areas of non-formal education, vocational education, disabilities, counselling, etc., but better cooperation is required between NGOs and UNRWA to ensure services are not duplicated (Demirdjian 2012b).

Waters and LeBlanc (2005) have suggested that in certain fragile contexts, international NGOs and multilateral organisations end up acting as ‘pseudo nation-states’, filling the role of the nation state in managing the provision of education services to refugees, with significant implications for coordination between different stakeholders. Coordination with nation-states has increased significantly since the adoption of the UNHCR Education Strategy 2012-2016. (For more detailed information about UNHCR and its Education Strategy, see Appendix C.) This strategy advocates the “integration of refugee learners within national systems where possible and appropriate and as guided by on-going consultation with refugees” (UNHCR 2012). While only 5 of 11 refugee-hosting priority countries integrated refugees in national systems in 2011, 11 of 14 had adopted this approach by 2014 (Dryden-Peterson 2015). Further, in 2011, UNHCR had no formal relationships with national ministries of education; by 2016, it had partnerships with MoEs in almost all the countries in which it works (Scowcroft 2016) – exceptions include Bangladesh, Burundi, Djibouti, Malaysia, and Tanzania.

Signatories to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol have the mandate to uphold the right to education for refugees, which means that the ministries of education in these countries are responsible for the coordination of refugee education in collaboration with other partners, as is the case in Kenya under the 2014 directive (Comprehensive Refugee Programme in Kenya Ad Hoc Group 2014). Yet education for refugees is dependent on the laws, policies, and practices in place in each national context. In many cases, the provision of refugee education aligns with Convention ratification, for example in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Pakistan, where MoEs manage refugee education in collaboration with other stakeholders; and Rwanda, Cameroon, and Uganda, where MoEs are strongly engaged. In some cases countries that are not signatories do provide protection and education for refugees. A case in point is Jordan, which is not a signatory, but the Jordanian Government still chooses to refer to Syrians as refugees. UNHCR describes the Jordanian protection space as “generally favourable, although fragile owing to the country’s own socio-economic challenges,” and has drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding with the government (UNHCR 2016a). Further, there are other strategies employed by UNHCR and its implementing partners in negotiating work with refugees in countries that are not subject to the terms of the Convention, for example, by using the term ‘person of concern’ to refer to “A person whose protection and assistance needs are of interest to UNHCR” (UNHCR n.d.), which is both broader and less political than ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum-seeker’.

Case File: Coordination of education response for Syrian refugees

UNESCO reports that numerous education coordination mechanisms have been set up in countries neighbouring Syria which host large numbers of refugees, while in Syria a working group on education focusing on coordination is hosted by Save the Children (UNESCO 2015). High-level regional conferences have been held to discuss education of Syrian refugees; however, there is increasing recognition of the challenge of meeting the education needs of this diverse population, given country capacities and ongoing tensions (ibid.).

UNICEF, in partnership with the UK and others, is leading the development of the No Lost Generation strategy, which aims to address the Syrian education crisis (UNHCR 2016e). The challenge is compounded by the fact that refugee populations are constantly in flux and that host countries can become countries of origin and vice versa (and sometimes exist as both). Syria, for example, which hosts/hosted large numbers of refugees, including Palestinians, is now the largest source of refugees worldwide (Pecanha and Wallace 2015). In its 2011 Education Reform Strategy, UNRWA described Syria and Jordan as relatively stable, and as a place “where the Palestinian refugees enjoy a wide range of rights and opportunities”, compared with the “progressively more complex environments of Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza” (UNRWA 2011). This conflict in Syria serves as an important reminder that work with refugees requires both rigour and flexibility. Education remains under-financed despite pledges by many donors (UNESCO 2015). The table below summarises projected education financing needs for Syrian refugees of 2014.

 

 

Country Key figures Projected education requirements
Iraq
  •  Projected access provided to Syrian refugee children aged 6-15 years to basic education through formal and alternative approaches in camp and non-camp settings (by Dec. 2014): 91,441[4]
25 million USD (January to June 2014)[5]
Lebanon
  • Total registered refugee children: 476,173[6]
  • School-aged Syrian refugee children: 302,000[7]
  • Syrian refugee children enrolled in public schools in 2013-14 (5-17 years old), in both first and second shifts: 90,000[8]
91 million USD (January to June 2014)[9]
Jordan
  • Proportion of Syrian population in Jordan that will be of school-going age (5-17 years old) in 2014: 36 percent (Boys: 147,000 + Girls: 131,000)[10]
  • Number of school-aged Syrian boys and girls benefitting from formal education: 110,880[11]
52 million USD (January to June 2014)[12]
Turkey
  • Percent of Syrian population in Turkey that will be of school-going age (6-17 years old) in 2014: 65%[13]
  • Number of Syrian children enrolled in primary, secondary, and high school in camps and non-camp settings: 93,085[14]
29 million USD (January to June 2014)[15]

3.3   Funding of refugee education

Refugee education faces a significant financing gap, as part of wider global shortfalls for education in humanitarian response (see Sect. 2.7, Fig. 2.1).  Figure 3.1 indicates the impact of these trends on UNHCR’s budgets, listing some of UNHCR’s most critical areas of unmet education in 2015; these are forecast to continue if budgetary shortfalls extend into 2016 (UNHCR 2016f). The ‘Prioritized’ column shows what UNHCR planned to achieve in 2015 with projected funding; the ‘Unmet’ column shows the needs UNHCR considers it has the capacity to address within the year, if the budget is fully funded. However, there is a strong risk that UNHCR – and other organisations working in refugee education – will fail to raise the required education budgets, without a reversal in current funding trends for refugee education.

Figure 3.1    Impact of funding shortfalls on education in 2015 (as of October 2015) (UNHCR 2016f, p. 20)

figure-3-1-impact-of-funding-shortfalls-on-education-in-2015

3.4   Access to education for refugees

Enrolment rates for refugee children are well below rates for children globally at all levels of education. Given the disruptions they face, refugees who do enrol are generally behind their age-appropriate grade level. Data on access is difficult to collect, but, according to UNHCR (2015b):

  • Only 1 in every 2 refugees accesses primary education
  • Only 1 in every 4 refugees accesses secondary education
  • Only 1 in every 100 refugees accesses higher education or skills-based education

There is wide variation in enrolment rates across LMICs, and access depends on refugee governance structures and asylum policies, which vary according to location and time (Dryden-Peterson 2011). For example, secondary school enrolment rates for refugees are notably low in Kenya and Pakistan at about 10%, and in Malaysia at less than 2% (Dryden-Peterson 2015).

Common barriers to access at all levels of education include shortage of school space, language barriers, curriculum, transport, parental (and learner) documentation, child labour, school fees, and security concerns (Culbertson and Constant 2015). Particular challenges for girls include pregnancy and/or marriage, and a lack of access to sanitation facilities. In camps where refugee-led educational interventions have emerged, there can be problems for incoming refugees who are from a different ethnic group and/or do not share a language with the refugees who initiated the interventions – for example in Thailand, where non-Karen speaking refugee learners (Karenni, Shan, Mon, Burman, Rakhine, Chin, etc.) were excluded from the Karen-dominated schools in the refugee camps (Oh 2012). In protracted crises there is a definite risk that a majority of children will not be able to access any form of education during their childhoods. In the Syrian case, for example, neighbouring countries felt unable to accept any more refugees into their already taxed education systems, and not in a position to support the displaced learners from Syria without additional resources. Finally, access to education for refugees and IDPs at all levels is under threat due to deliberate targeting of education institutions; many schools in Syria have ceased running, or have been turned into detention and torture centres or barracks (UNESCO 2015).[16]

3.4.1   Primary and secondary education

Access tends to be better for refugees at the primary level than at other levels of education, but significant barriers still remain. One key problem is a lack of availability of documentation. UNHCR (2015b) has found that many refugee children have problems obtaining a birth registration certificate, which hinders access to primary education and can also lead to statelessness.

A number of barriers have been identified that are specific to secondary education, including costs, distance, language, documentation (primary school leaving certificates and birth certificates), teaching and administrative capacity, low primary completion rates, cultural norms, and low priority given to secondary education on the international agenda (UNHCR 2015d).

There is a lack of rigorous research on the delivery of primary and secondary education at scale to refugee populations (Thompson 2013, Burde et al. 2015). Education access for refugees at these levels is usually attempted in one of three ways: (1) the opening of schools specifically for refugees (in refugee camps and increasingly in urban settlements); (2) mainstreaming into the host country’s public education system; or (3) community-based schools, initiated and supported by refugees themselves. Evidence of the effectiveness of opening schools for refugees in camps or tent settlements is mixed and mostly limited to observational studies (Burde et al. 2015). A 2004 UNESCO observational study involving qualitative interviews with nearly 100 individuals in Timor Leste found that schools in camp could accommodate a relatively large number of refugees, but because classes were unstructured and there was no assessment or grade progression, attendance was sporadic (and there was no certification of attendance) (Nicolai 2004). However, the same study revealed a number of barriers faced by refugees when instead attempting to access public schools in West Timor, including complicated enrolment processes, language barriers, and prohibitive school fees (ibid.). There has been a global shift towards the second of the three options – mainstreaming into national systems – and the limited available research suggests this approach has several major advantages compared with attempting to sustain parallel, informal, and/or alternative education over time. Advantages include accountability, standardisation, and recognised certification of educational opportunities.

Case File: Mainstreaming primary and secondary education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey

The reality for many LMICs is that their public institutions, including schools, are not equipped to deal with large influxes of people. A case in point is Lebanon, which has recently received more than 1.2 million Syrians (Abla et al. 2015). Other countries in the region, including Jordan and Turkey, have also found their public service sectors overstretched, and despite what has been described as “remarkable generosity” on the part of the governments and citizens of these countries, tensions are on the rise in areas with high concentrations of refugees, bringing concerns for security and social cohesion (Culbertson and Constant 2015). Pressure on existing systems and institutions and dwindling resources in both camps and mainstream schools have meant the introduction of double shifting. Burde et al. (2015) remark that the evidence on the effectiveness of this strategy is limited and mixed. One recent (unpublished) ethnographic study on education for Syrian refugees in Turkey revealed that while double shifting in public schools may increase access from a purely numerical point of view, issues around quality, instability, teacher turnover, and conflict with students and staff from regular school hours persist, which may lead to a decrease in attendance and an increase in drop out among refugees (Burde et al. 2015).

According to another recent study, fewer than 107,000 Syrian children in Lebanon (25% of the school-aged Syrian refugee population currently hosted there) have been able to access formal public education (Abla et al. 2015). The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education works with the UNHCR to integrate Syrians into public schools. Double shifting has been an increasingly popular strategy in Lebanon, with 62,000 students attending second-shift schools across 156 Lebanese schools in 2014-2015, compared with fewer than 43,000 in the regular first shift (ibid.). In 2016, 160 of Lebanon’s 1350 public schools are operating a morning shift (majority Lebanese) and an afternoon shift (mostly Syrian refugees), taught by Lebanese teachers (who often teach both shifts) (Dryden-Peterson and Adelman 2016). While the introduction of second shifts at schools may have allowed more students to enrol, this strategy can have a negative impact on quality, particularly if it involves the same teachers and/or a lack of adequate resources (Burde et al. 2015). Ongoing research suggests that refugees who participate in second shifts can feel alienated, which may contribute to low attendance and eventual drop-out (Dryden-Peterson and Adelman 2016). Education quality is discussed in more detail in section 3.5.

Case File: Primary and secondary education access for Palestinian refugees

School enrolment among Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) is generally quite high. By the end of 2013, 1,151,702 students were enrolled, including 1,009,639 at the basic level (grades 1-10) and 142,063 at the secondary level (grades 11-12), representing a majority of the basic and secondary school-age population (UNDP 2014). Further, gender parity is relatively high, with comparable proportions of girls and boys enrolled at the basic level (though more boys attend secondary school) (ibid.). UNRWA is a key education provider for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, operating 677 elementary and preparatory schools in its five areas of operation, and eight secondary schools in Lebanon, accounting for free education access for around 500,000 of the total Palestinian students currently enrolled in formal education (UNRWA n.d.-c). It maintains gender parity, a benchmark first achieved in the 1960s.

UNRWA has traditionally focused on the provision of primary education, with secondary school age students accessing local host government schools with the exception of Lebanon. As a result, educational access at the secondary level is therefore more limited than at the primary level for all Palestinian refugees.

The Lebanon Office has taken a special interest in inclusive education and is currently piloting the Special People Special Focus project, with other UNRWA departments and NGOs. Further, EU support has allowed UNRWA to offer two other projects in Lebanon with inclusive education components:

  1. Adapting schools to be accessible for students with disabilities (implementing American University of Beirut survey recommendations)
  2. Recruiting a group of psychologists and psychiatrists to support schools in identifying and responding to the diverse psychosocial needs of students

While Palestinian refugees’ literacy and levels of educational attainment are among the highest in the Middle East region, there are problems related to access. One major problem is space. In 2010 in Lebanon, there were only 75 UNRWA schools supporting 32,892 students, resulting in overcrowded classrooms and a multiple-shift system with shortened teaching sessions (Demirdjian 2012b). Meanwhile, “Years of underfunding have left the education system in Gaza overstretched, with 94 per cent of schools operating on a double-shift basis, hosting one ‘school’ of students in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. As a result, children’s education is severely truncated. In 2006 examinations, nearly 80 per cent of students failed mathematics, and more than 40 per cent failed Arabic” (UNRWA n.d.-a). Finally, due to the increasing instability in the MENA region as a whole (particularly Syria), and the ongoing tensions and conflict between Israel and the OPT, it is challenging for schools to remain open and/or for children to safely access education (Shapland 2016). A recent report documents how Palestinian schools have been targeted for attacks (GCPEA 2014). (See also Appendix D on UNRWA and education for Palestinian refugees.)

3.4.2   Higher education

Crea and McFarland (2015) found that while access to education for refugees is limited at all levels, opportunities for higher education are particularly lacking. Higher education has subsequently become an emerging priority for the international community.[17]

One established strategy for increasing access to higher education for refugees is through the provision of  scholarships.[18] This strategy has been in place since 1992 through the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI) programme, which is run by UNHCR (UNHCR 2016b).[19] In 2014, over 2,240 DAFI scholarship students were enrolled in universities and colleges in 41 countries of asylum (ibid.). A 2007 evaluation of DAFI found it to be successful in improving enrolment, including female enrolment, which stabilised in recent years at over 40% from a low of 23% in 1992 (Morlang and Watson 2007). Further, 75% of the DAFI graduates who replied to a questionnaire had received a bachelor’s degree, and 8% were continuing studies with other funding. Research suggests that most DAFI scholars return to their country of origin, finding employment in NGOs and other UN agencies (Demirdjian 2012a). However, scholarship-winners tend to form a relatively small group; in addition, some research has pointed to the relationship between increased inequality of educational opportunity and the increased likelihood of renewed conflict (Milton and Barakat forthcoming).

Other more recent strategies include the use of ICT to bring higher education to refugee camps. Two examples include the InZone Higher Education initiative, and the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) initiative, which both currently run out of camps in Kenya.

Case File: Higher education access for Palestinian refugees

UNRWA serves 2,100 students in two educational science and arts faculties and teacher training institutes (one in the West Bank and one in Jordan). However, as there is an emphasis on teaching as a profession, it is difficult for Palestinians to access higher education opportunities leading to other career paths.[1] Jordan provides university education in teaching, Arabic, and English to about 1,200 students through the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Arts, and was planning to introduce geography as a fourth subject in 2013/2014 (UNRWA website).[2] Further, UNRWA is developing a scholarship and stipend programme. To ensure sustainability, upon completing their studies, study fellows serve at UNRWA schools for twice the period of their study, helping students to access further education and supporting UNRWA by filling vacant posts in high-demand subjects. They are also planning to start a postgraduate scholarship programme to ensure sustainability of faculty teaching staff. Higher education is viewed as a priority by households in the OPT, with enrolment of students in higher education increasing by 940% between 1993 and 2011 (UNDP 2014). There are 53 accredited post-secondary institutions (34 in the West Bank, 18 in Gaza, and one open university), which include 14 traditional universities, 18 university colleges, and 27 community colleges, offering over 300 fields of study (ibid.). Over half the students are women. In refugee camps and rural areas, higher degrees (Masters and PhDs) are less common. There are also eight vocational training centres (in West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon), serving 7,000 Palestinian refugees.

[1] Of course, many other careers remain out of reach for Palestinians, who still face enormous barriers to their integration in host countries, and no real prospects to ‘return home’.

[2] It is not clear from the website whether or not this discipline was introduced at that time.

3.4.3   Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

There is very little research on Early Childhood Development (ECD) or Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in refugee education. The 2011 Global Review specifically mentions that it does not look at ECD. This problem is not limited to refugee contexts: the international community as a whole has been slow to draft national strategies for ECD. The UNHCR Education Strategy 2012-2016 set a goal for itself and its partners to “Enable early childhood education for 500,000 children aged 3 to 5” (UNHCR 2012, p. 8), though research suggests that even where there is a strong national commitment to ECCE, correlative gains for refugees are limited. For example, in Thailand, a study found that only 55% of non-Thai migrant and refugee children attend ECCE programmes, compared with 93% of Thai children (Shaeffer 2015, in UNESCO 2015). Similarly, few Palestinian families can afford quality preschool, and in 2010-11 only 85,200 children (38%) were enrolled in preschool in the OPT (ANERA 2014), though this is higher than the rate for the MENA region as a whole (20%) (UNDP 2014). However, according to UNRWA (2011), Jordan is currently developing its ECD sector as a result of international investment, which has potential to increase access to ECD for Palestinian refugees living in Jordan.

3.5   Quality of refugee education and learning outcomes

The issue of education quality has increasingly become a global priority. While access significantly improved between 1990 and 2015, many students who had been in school for four to five years had still not acquired basic literacy (UNESCO 2015). Subsequently, the international community has adopted a goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” as SDG 4 in the sustainable development agenda (UN 2016).

Increase in education access for refugees often comes at the cost of quality (Dryden-Peterson 2011). This is particularly evident where there is a choice between educating refugees in camp schools versus national mainstream schools: refugee camp schools may have spaces available, but they often lack a qualified teaching force; national schools, on the other hand, present access challenges associated with high costs and non-mother-tongue instruction leading to grade repetition (Dryden-Peterson 2003). Such is the importance of quality that UNHCR focused on learning in its latest Education Strategy 2012-2016.

Case File: UNRWA schools outperform public schools

The World Bank found that in 2007, UNRWA students outperformed students attending public schools by over a year’s worth of learning in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessment, a finding which held for Jordan as well. In 2011, there were declines in TIMSS scores in both UNRWA and public schools; however, UNRWA schools showed a significant student performance advantage (World Bank 2014). Consequently, the World Bank carried out a mixed-methods study to determine how UNRWA schools in West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan continually and consistently outperform public schools. The report revealed a counterintuitive finding: While the education literature has demonstrated that socioeconomic status (SES) and parental education are highly associated with performance, UNRWA students outperform public school peers in spite of their SES disadvantages. Key factors that help to explain this finding include higher student self-confidence, and higher levels of parental support and involvement in educational activities. The report also found that a number of teacher factors contributed to the overall quality of education in UNRWA schools. Given the increasing instability in Syria, and the difficult conditions in Lebanon, it is likely that UNRWA schools will struggle to maintain educational quality in these contexts. Further, the World Bank has acknowledged that standards have been falling over the past few years. In other words, it is important to try to isolate the key factors that have contributed to educational quality and to determine pathways through which quality can be maximised. This is particularly important given the findings from a recent UNDP finding that overall academic achievement in the Arab region is lower than expected (given its average GDP), and that the achievement of UNRWA students should in fact be higher, given the relatively consistent support of the system over decades (UNDP 2014). Finally, UNRWA’s focus is on primary schooling (Demirdjian 2012b), so lessons learned have to be contextualised for early years and secondary school settings. (See Appendix D on education for Palestinian refugees.)

Education quality can be considered across three key interrelated dimensions of education: (1) curriculum (what is taught), (2) pedagogy (how it is taught), and (3) assessment (how teaching and learning is measured) (Wyse, Hayward and Pandya 2015). These dimensions are discussed below in more detail, in relation to refugee education.

3.5.1   Curriculum issues

A key question concerns whether refugees should follow the curriculum of the host country or their country of origin. On the one hand, voluntarily returning to the country of origin is generally considered to be the preferred durable solution (as set out by the UNHCR), which would suggest that the country of origin curriculum should be taught. On the other hand, the reality is that the average time refugees spend in displacement is longer than a completed cycle of schooling (primary and secondary), which would suggest that it is better to teach the host country curriculum. At the heart of this curriculum paradox is a complex problem: how to ensure that what refugees learn is meaningful, and linked to officially recognised forms of accreditation and certification. A recent trend has been towards integration/mainstreaming into stable national systems (and consequently use of the host country curriculum), as the education is perceived to be of higher quality there than in camp schools. Further, an increasing number of educators and organisations are attempting to “enrich” the curriculum, by bringing in elements from the country of origin curricula to teach alongside host country curricula (and vice versa), and including supplementary curricula on human rights, life skills, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, etc. (INEE 2010).

Curriculum is a contested term in educational research. Some define it narrowly, as the plan or syllabus followed by teachers for a given course of study; others define it broadly, as everything that is learned in an educational context, be it intentional or unintentional, explicit or implicit (Moore 2014). Questions around selection of content can be politically charged, and have important implications for what refugees learn. For example, if no mother tongue curriculum materials are available, young refugee learners find it difficult to learn basic literacy and numeracy, and also come to believe that their language is not as valued as the language of instruction. In other words, alongside academic knowledge and skills, the curriculum also transmits to children lessons about social structures and power relations (Dryden-Peterson 2015, p. 12). For this reason, the INEE Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning and additional materials on conflict-sensitive education highlight the importance of “context-specific curriculum choices” (INEE 2010, p. 1).

Dryden-Peterson (2015) traces the educational histories of learners from the DRC in Uganda and Burundi, Somali refugees in Kenya, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Malaysia, and Syrian refugees in Egypt before their resettlement to the United States. One major barrier faced by many refugees is curriculum language and language learning. There will rarely been a single language in common within a class of refugees, meaning that instructional content has to be translated multiple times, impeding educational progress. As an added complication, both the UNHCR’s and host countries’ policies on whether to teach children in host country or origin country language have changed over time. At the local level, this has meant that many students are exposed to different languages but are not supported to attain mastery of any of them. In some situations, language is not as much of a problem, for example for Congolese refugees in Rwanda, and Somali refugees in the Somali region of Ethiopia. There are also examples of attempts to address language of instruction problems, for example in Turkey, where informal Turkish language courses are held for refugees at Public Training Centres (Bircan and Sunata 2015). Another example is described by UNHCR Chad (2015) which carried out a participatory assessment among Sudanese refugees in 12 camps in 2012 on transitioning to the Chadian system, and as a result worked with the Government of Chad to adopt the bilingual national curriculum (French and Arabic) for use with Sudanese refugees, without compromising the language of instruction the refugees were used to, and to train teachers. Finally, it is worth recalling that barriers to language acquisition vary from individual to individual, depending on age, academic level, opportunities for practice, etc.

3.5.2   Pedagogy issues

Regardless of the quality of the curriculum, if teachers lack the pedagogical capacity to implement that curriculum, the quality of the learning experience will suffer.

Dryden-Peterson (2015) found that national resources for teaching in LMICs are limited, as reflected in high student–teacher ratios and low-level teaching qualifications. This means that national systems are often below current UNHCR standards. However, these trends vary strongly according to context; for example, student–teacher ratios ranged from 18:1 in Ghana to 70:1 in Pakistan according to 2009 data (Dryden-Peterson 2015), while the proportion of trained teachers ranged from 0% in Djibouti to 100% in Eritrea (ibid.).

There is limited research on teachers of refugees specifically in LMICs. According to the Commonwealth Secretariat (2013), in Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, and Uganda, teachers of refugees were under-qualified and did not have sufficient experience. While there has been a global rise in the percentage of professionally qualified teachers overall, according to UNHCR data this trend is uneven for teachers of refugees, with some areas showing no or little progress.

Case File: Teachers’ self-image in Ethiopia and Afghanistan

As early as 2002, as part of an internal evaluation, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) identified teacher training as the highest priority for improving the quality of its education programme (Winthrop and Kirk 2005). Their research from Ethiopia and Afghanistan revealed that 92% of teachers in Ethiopia and 75% of teachers in Afghanistan did not see themselves as real teachers, which had major impacts on their confidence levels. While in-service training in Ethiopia helped teachers to function fairly effectively, teachers felt that they could not be good teachers until they had completed their own education (even if they had received in-service training). Women, in particular, were very aware of their own limitations and lacked confidence in their own abilities. Teachers’ self-image plays a key role in productive pedagogies, and hence quality education, and must therefore be taken into account in designing teacher education.

This lack of trained teachers is reflected in poor learning outcomes for refugees. For example, in NGO-run and community-based secondary schools for Chin and Afghan refugees in Malaysia, refugee teachers were unable to effectively teach the Malaysian curriculum, because of issues with training and inadequate support (Rahman 2011 in Dryden-Peterson 2011). Research shows that teachers of refugees commonly find it difficult to implement instruction and to build inclusive classroom environments, and end up using teacher-centred rather than learner-centred methodologies; quality pedagogy is constrained by factors including limited resources (low funding, overcrowding, and lack of educational materials), a lack of pedagogical training and content knowledge, and curriculum and language policies (Mendenhall et al. 2015).

Case File: Quality teaching in UNRWA Schools

UNRWA began working on a Teacher Policy in 2011, and it was released in 2013 (UNRWA 2013). The policy recognises the key role of teachers in ensuring quality education, and attempts to support teachers in the classroom, as well as through ongoing professional development and motivating career opportunities. This policy is supported by the School Based Teacher Development (SBTD) programme[1] of continuous professional development, launched in 2012.

The World Bank (2014) found that UNRWA students outperformed students educated in public schools by teachers with the same years of service and degrees, and that this was due to the following factors:  

  • UNRWA is able to attract and recruit high quality teachers, through their own (free) teachers’ colleges which guarantee employment upon successful completion
  • UNRWA teachers are given clear expectations and guidance on how to use time effectively in classrooms and waste less time in schools. For example, in Jordan, UNRWA teachers spent 90% of their working time teaching, compared with less than 60% at public schools
  • UNRWA schools have more mandated opportunities for CPD and orientation for teachers than their public counterparts
  • UNRWA teachers are supported by qualified and experienced principals/head teachers
  • UNRWA teachers exhibit more confidence, are able to use a more diverse range of teaching methods, and rely more on interactive learning activities, discussions, and assignments than their public school counterparts
  • As UNRWA teachers come from the same at-risk population as the students themselves, they have shared experiences with the students that allow them to serve as role models and more effectively provide psychosocial support and address learning needs.

However, as successful as UNRWA has been in teacher professional development and ongoing support, overcrowding and multiple shifts have had significant impacts on teachers’ ability to do their jobs well. Working double shifts can be exhausting, and with more students in their classes, teachers find themselves paying attention to the highest-achieving students, with insufficient time to help students prepare for key exams (Demirdjian 2012a). (See Appendix D on education for Palestinian refugees.)

[1] The programme focuses on developing active pedagogies, learning focused classroom practices, assessment for quality learning, the teacher’s role in promoting literacy and numeracy, the inclusive approach to teaching and learning, and engaging parents in raising achievement (UNRWA 2012). Currently, there are no scholarly studies on the effectiveness of the SBTD programme.

Teacher retention and motivation is difficult to maintain in these types of contexts. A number of initiatives, guidelines and toolkits have been developed as a response, including:

Section 4.6 provides an extended discussion of IDP teacher recruitment, training, compensation, and wellbeing, which is also relevant to refugee teachers; section 5.7 provides examples of current innovations and innovations on building teacher capacity and wellbeing.

3.5.3   Assessment issues

In addition to problems of weakness in ongoing informal assessment (i.e. assessment carried out by the teacher day-to-day to ensure learning is taking place), refugees face a number of challenges concerning assessment. These include a lack of access to formal assessment opportunities such as national examinations, a lack of recognition of certain credentials and qualifications, and no recognition of prior learning (Kirk 2009). Refugees themselves prioritise the need for official recognition of their qualifications (Dippo 2016). A recent study of refugees in Thailand shows that while the education provided through refugee camps in Thailand was perceived to be higher quality than in Myanmar, it was only seen to hold currency within the refugee context, and the education was not accredited (Oh 2012).

Case File: Accreditation and certification for Syrian children in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey

Lebanon allows Syrian students to sit for both end-of-year and official leaving examinations if they can provide proof of identity (UNICEF 2015b). However, problems with documentation, including equivalence of transcripts, etc., and a reluctance to allow school standards to slip has led to some barriers for Syrian refugees in accessing Lebanese assessment systems.

According to the same UNICEF study, in Jordan, any students who pass the Grade 12 examination are entitled to receive a diploma that is officially recognised and accredited, regardless of the child’s nationality (and therefore refugee status), and can use that diploma to apply for university. However, there was no Grade 12 open for Syrian children in Za’atari camp during 2012-13, and no Syrians could enrol in Grade 12 in host communities. Syrian students sat the Grade 12 examination for the first time in 2014.

In Iraq, Syrian refugees who submit school records on time and have reached their final year are allowed to sit the national examination and receive the same certificates as Iraqi students. In 2013, in parts of Iraq with a high concentration of Syrian students, there was a very low success rate in examinations among both boys and girls. The Kurdistan Regional Government faces an issue with certification of the revised Syrian curriculum, but the MoE noted in 2014 that they would provide all Syrian children with official certificates, regardless of the curriculum followed.

In public schools in Turkey, Syrian refugees follow the Turkish learning assessment system. At the end of Grade 8, students sit an examination and are awarded a primary education diploma, which allows them to progress to secondary school. At the end of Grade 12, students sit a school-leaving examination, which leads to a secondary school certificate, allowing them to leave the system or progress to higher and further education opportunities in Turkey or other countries. However, as there are only limited numbers of Syrian students enrolled in Turkish schools, and therefore eligible to receive a national diploma/certificate, the issue of certification is an urgent priority. The Turkish MoE started providing attendance certificates to Syrian students (Grade 1 through 12) beginning in 2012/2013, and at the end of 2014 Syrian students attending temporary education centres received school reports from the MoE. To further complicate matters, there are many unregistered schools in host communities in Turkey, and while several of these provide their own certificates, these are not recognised by the MoE.

UNRWA’s “world class” assessment system has been identified as a key factor in their strong performance. As part of their orientation, new UNRWA teachers are trained to assess student achievement. All major examinations are prepared at the central UNRWA level and implemented in common across all UNRWA schools, and overall assessment data is monitored by UNRWA policymakers. UNRWA schools take part in national and international assessments, and results are usually shared with families of students. There is a high degree of accountability in the assessment mechanism, with parents, local governments, and society held accountable for education outcomes.

3.6   Protection and wellbeing of refugees in and through education

Much research has been undertaken on the protective dimension of education in itself, as well as its ability to act as a delivery platform for medical attention, mental health interventions and psychosocial support. Notably, education can equip children with specific skills and knowledge to protect themselves from the risks associated with displacement (including health risks, gender-based violence, land mines; see for example No Lost Generation 2016), and literacy itself can entail improved health outcomes (Winthrop and Matsui 2013). However, it has also been argued that education of low quality (i.e. where high-quality teaching and learning is not prioritised) loses its protective quality (Dryden-Peterson 2011).

Case File: IRC Healing Classrooms Initiative

As a result of an internal evaluation of its education programmes in 2002, the IRC launched an initiative called Healing Classrooms, which aimed to research teachers’ and students’ experiences in school and their perceptions of teaching and learning in order to inform teacher development for student wellbeing (Winthrop and Kirk 2005). While the IRC includes psychosocial teacher training as a separate module in in-service pedagogy and classroom management training, and individual interviews with teachers in Ethiopia revealed that they had understood and retained lessons from the training, classroom observations revealed little evidence of teachers being able to integrate their learning into their day-to-day pedagogy. This research suggests that stand-alone models of psychosocial training may not be an effective approach, and that it may be better to integrate psychosocial concepts (without naming them psychosocial) into teacher education programmes as a whole.

The IRC also introduced a programme of training and deploying female classroom assistants (CAs) in refugee schools in Guinea and Sierra Leone, who were initially active in Grade 3 to 6 classrooms (Winthrop and Kirk 2005). Their mandate was to support a girl-friendly school environment, and they were charged with monitoring attendance, helping girls with studies, supporting health education and social club activities, and minimising situations where teachers were able to exploit girls for sex.

However, education can also carry a risk of negatively impacting on a child’s well-being or safety. Although being in education can in itself protect children (Winthrop and Matsui 2013), schools and other educational interventions can themselves be sites of violence or targets for attack.[23] Attacks on Palestinian schools are increasing, with corresponding exposure of children, their families, and educators to violence (GCPEA 2014). At the same time, teachers who lack adequate training may resort to corporal punishment to maintain classroom discipline, and can contribute to a culture of violence at schools, including exploitation, abuse and bullying.

Given the levels of potential or actual violence to which refugee children are exposed, it is important to consider psychosocial factors when addressing their education needs. There is a recognised need for more research exploring the differences between girls and boys as regards their psychosocial responses in emergency settings and the impact this has on education (Burde et al. 2015). For example, an observational study examining a Serbian community-based Youth Clubs programme found higher levels of trauma reported by both refugee and non-refugee girls than their male counterparts (Ispanovic-Radojkovic 2003). However, in an epidemiological study aiming to establish the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among 1425 Somali and Rwandese refugees in the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda in 2003, it was found that gender was not a uniform factor across cultures in terms of prevalence of PTSD and depression (Onyut et al. 2009).

After the 2014 conflict in Gaza, UNRWA attempted to restore a basic level of normalcy through a ‘Back to School’ approach (UNRWA Education Department 2015). ‘Return to school’ is often prioritised by communities and practitioners because schooling is believed to have a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Shah (2015a), however, reports that educational quality is being undermined for Palestinian refugees: most schools in Gaza operate on double or triple shifts, with high student–teacher ratios and reduced class hours; in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, teaching is under-remunerated and under-resourced, leading to low motivation among educators. Under such circumstances, the benefits of a return to school may be minimal.

A number of studies suggest that consistent exposure to structural violence, inequality, and injustice may undermine any psychosocial benefits, particularly in the long term, even where educational and psychosocial interventions are of a reasonable quality. A recent study by the Better Learning Programme (BLP), supported by the NRC, and the Eye to the Future Programme (E2F), administered by CARE International, found that while education programmes may deliver short-term benefits, including a new state of normalcy and some resilience, this may be ineffective or even counter-productive in the long-term. Appendix A provides a discussion of the quality of evidence available on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for children with posttraumatic stress disorder.

Research on psychosocial interventions in Gaza

A controlled clinical trial (CCT) evaluated the short-term impact of a group crisis intervention for children aged 9-15 years from five refugee camps in Gaza (Thabet, Vostanis and Karim 2005). 47 children were allocated to the group intervention, encouraging expression of emotions and experiences through numerous activities, including storytelling, drawing, and free play; 22 children were allocated to education about symptoms; and 42 children were allocated to a control group. No significant impact of the intervention on children’s posttraumatic or depressive symptoms was established. One explanation suggested by the authors is that children’s exposure to continuous direct violence and indirect trauma may sustain stress reactions despite treatment.

A recent rigorous randomised evaluation conducted with Palestinian children aged 10-13 suggests there may be a gendered dimension to the impact of psychosocial interventions. Punamäki et al. (2014) explored the effects of a “Teaching Recovery Techniques” psychosocial intervention on emotional regulation and found that while post-traumatic stress symptoms were reduced for boys in the study, they were reduced in only a subset of girls (girls who demonstrated lower levels of trauma at the baseline).

3.7   Current gaps and challenges

This review of the state of research, policy, and practice in refugee education has uncovered a number of gaps and challenges.

First, there is a gap in the research when it comes to understanding and responding to the protracted nature of refugee crises and to the individual and community educational trajectories and experiences of refugees. Robust longitudinal data on these trajectories and experiences are lacking. On a related note, there is a need for a strengthening of pathways for research to inform policy and practice by building partnerships and improving coordination between researchers, governments, IPs (Implementing Partners), NGOs, and affected communities.

Second, there is a gap in the evidence about increasing access to and beyond primary school and addressing lack of space. Since mainstreaming of refugees into national education systems has become a preferred option among key stakeholders, there is an urgent need for relevant and meaningful curriculum and assessment systems and a better understanding of how to meet specific learning needs, including those to do with language of instruction and assessment, disabilities, gender, and ethnicity.

Third, since education is thought to lose its protective dimension if it is of low quality, more research is required on how best to build teacher capacity, support teacher wellbeing, and facilitate compensation for teachers of refugees. The quality of UNRWA schools relative to other schools in the region has been attributed in part to UNRWA’s teacher training programmes and ongoing support mechanisms. However, standards in these schools are falling, thus there is an urgent need to determine how to recover and maintain the previous standards and how to transfer lessons learned from the Palestinian context to LMICs in general.

Fourth, since an increasing number of refugees go to urban settlements rather than camps, there is a need for more effective data collection with these urban populations, who are often not documented and/or are dispersed across contexts rather than grouped together in a camp setting.

Finally, given the increasingly protracted nature of refugee crises, more sophisticated funding mechanisms are required to respond to more immediate short-term educational needs and longer-term educational needs.

 

 

[1] LMICs that have not signed the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol include Guyana, Cuba, Western Sahara, Libya, Eritrea, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, U.A.E., Oman, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, North Korea, Mongolia, and the Solomon Islands. Madagascar is only party to the 1951 Convention. Venezuela is only party to the 1967 Protocol.

[2] Palestinian refugees living inside areas where UNRWA operates are excluded from the UNHCR Statute and protection according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which excludes persons receiving protection or assistance from other UN organs or agencies.

[3] While UNHCR does not have a mandate to protect Palestinian refugees, the 1951 Refugee Convention does mandate the ipso facto inclusion of Palestinians, should the protection or assistance from UNRWA cease for any reason.

[4] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[5] Statistics 1a, 1b, 2d, 3c, 4a–4c retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[6] Statistic retrieved from http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=5104

[7] Statistic retrieved from http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=5112

[8] Statistic retrieved from http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=5112

[9] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[10] Statistics retrieved from http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=5001

[11] Statistics retrieved from http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/download.php?id=5001

[12] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[13] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[14] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[15] Statistic retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/syriarrp6/

[16] See the website of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, www.protectingeducation.org/.

[17] See, for example, the recent HEART Topic Guide on Building Capacity in Higher Education (2015).

[18] This mirrors target 4.b of the SDGs, which calls for the international community to “By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.” Available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabledevelopmentgoals

[19] Another scholarship programme for refugee higher education is the World University Service of Canada.

[20] Of course, many other careers remain out of reach for Palestinians, who still face enormous barriers to their integration in host countries, and no real prospects to ‘return home’.

[21] It is not clear from the website whether or not this discipline was introduced at that time.

[22] The programme focuses on developing active pedagogies, learning focused classroom practices, assessment for quality learning, the teacher’s role in promoting literacy and numeracy, the inclusive approach to teaching and learning, and engaging parents in raising achievement (UNRWA 2012). Currently, there are no scholarly studies on the effectiveness of the SBTD programme.

[23] The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the problem of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict, provides regular updates on the multiple threats to education (including refugee education).

 

Section 4: The State of Research, Policy, and Practice in IDP Education

section-4-summar-box

4.1   Introduction

Most forcibly displaced people remain within their national borders as IDPs. Their situation is often less visible to the international community than that of refugees. They legally remain under national laws, and do not come under the protection of international agreements covering refugees. Where the national government is unable or unwilling to provide social services, it can be difficult for IDPs to participate in education.

Global IDPs in 2014/15: At A Glance

  • 40.8 million IDPs displaced by persecution, conflict, generalised violence, or human rights violations in 2015 (UNHCR 2016i)
  • 19.3 million IDPs newly displaced by disasters in 2014 (IDMC 2015a)
  • Forced displacement often lasts for many years, with IDPs living in displacement for 10 years or more in the majority of countries monitored by IDMC (IDMC 2015a)

Evidence from IDPs themselves indicates that education is often a high priority (Cohen 2008). However, it has tended to be a low priority for humanitarian actors, as demonstrated by the initial omission of education from the SPHERE handbook on the humanitarian charter and minimum standards in humanitarian response, and the very low share of humanitarian aid to education (see Sect. 2.7, Fig. 2.1). Nonetheless, the structures for improving humanitarian aid to education have improved, notably with the creation of an Education Cluster in 2007 and adoption of the INEE Minimum Standards for Education as a companion to the SPHERE guidelines in 2008 (Sphere Project and INEE 2009).

Education programmes in emergencies sometimes fail to take the specific needs of IDPs into account. An evaluation of UNICEF’s education programming in the Maldives following the tsunami found that no thorough situational analysis of IDPs had been undertaken and that they had some of the highest rates of dropout and absenteeism (UNICEF 2009). As noted in section 2.5, there is a lack of data on education for IDPs, especially for the vast majority of IDPs who do not live in camps. This lack of data is symptomatic of, and at the same time contributes to, the low priority accorded to the education of IDPs by national and international actors.

4.2   IDP contexts

In 2014, five countries accounted for 60% of the global population of IDPs displaced by conflict: Syria (7.6 million), Colombia (6 million), Iraq (3.4 million), Sudan (3.1 million) and DRC (2.8 million). At least 35% of Syria’s population was living in displacement. Other countries with very large IDP populations relative to their size included South Sudan (1.5 million, equivalent to 12.5% of the population) and Somalia (1.1 million, equivalent to 10.5% of the population) (IDMC 2015a).

The sections below concern three groups of IDPs:

  • IDPs living in camps (a minority, but the subject of the majority of the IDP literature)
  • IDPs not living in camps (a majority, but the subject of a minority of the IDP literature)
  • Returning populations, including returning former refugees, IDPs, and children associated with fighting forces

4.2.1   IDPs in camp-like contexts

IDP camps or settlements may be planned by the authorities or may be self-settled. Self-settled camps tend to form around places that people associate with protection and assistance. For example, during an outbreak of violence in East Timor, many IDPs settled near international armed forces or around churches (Penson and Tomlinson 2009).

As with refugee camps, IDP camp residents are often provided with food rations; however, the distribution of these rations can inadvertently act as a barrier to education as collecting and transporting them is a common cause of absenteeism (Ferris and Winthrop 2010).

Education provision in camps may be limited to a few non-formal emergency education programmes such as Child Friendly Spaces (see Sect. 4.4.1). Primary and non-formal basic education may become established in longer-term camps, but camps often lack secondary schools. In an analysis of education for IDPs in camps in Darfur, it was noted that there were no secondary schools within camps, and it was almost impossible for camp residents to access secondary schools in towns due to the distance, insecurity, and school fees charged (WCWRC 2008). Another survey in Darfur found that only a minority of primary schools in IDP camps provided education up to grade 8, the last grade of primary. None of the camps had accelerated learning programmes (Lloyd et al. 2010).

4.2.2   IDPs integrated into host communities

The vast majority of IDPs live outside camps. Many live in private accommodation, either hosted by, or sited within local communities, or in some cases (for example in DRC and CAR) hiding in the bush (IDMC 2015a). In many cases, IDPs will go to live with friends, relatives, or clan members in safer parts of the country. For example, between 2008 and 2010, an estimated 3.3 million people were displaced by conflict in northwest Pakistan. Of these, 85 to 90% were accommodated in host communities (Ferris and Stark 2012).

IDPs living outside camp situations tend to remain an invisible group, even though they constitute the largest proportion of all forcibly displaced populations (IDMC 2015a). In contexts like Somalia, where groups are traditionally nomadic and have experienced protracted crises, distinguishing whether people are living in their current homes due to forced displacement, nomadic displacement, or urban migration becomes difficult, and is further complicated by the fact that targeting of humanitarian aid to IDPs may encourage self-identification as IDPs (Skeie 2012).

IDP families living outside camps often lack access to assistance to cover their basic needs, so may be reliant on child labour to generate income. They may experience discrimination, as reported by IDPs in Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Sudan (Cohen 2008), and may have concerns about their children attending schools in unfamiliar settings (Ferris and Winthrop 2010). However, it is not always the case that IDPs outside camps have less access to education than those within them. While they may receive less access and support from international humanitarian organisations, they may have better access to government schools or low-cost private schools. In Kurdistan, for example, the out-of-school rate in 2015 was higher in camps than for IDP children outside camps (UNICEF 2015a).

4.2.3   Returning populations

Returning populations can include refugees returning from exile, IDPs returning to their regions of origin, and demobilised children and adolescents formerly associated with fighting forces returning to their communities. Again, definitions and identification are complicated. In cases of secession, as with the independence of South Sudan in 2011, there may be an influx of former IDPs and other diaspora from other parts of the original country. When refugees return from protracted displacement they may not be able to return to and settle in their places of origin, and so become IDPs.

IDPs who return to their places of origin but fail to reintegrate or to access their basic rights have not achieved a durable solution as defined by the IASC’s Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons. Reintegration can be particularly difficult for ethnic minorities returning to their original ethnically heterogeneous places of origin following an ethnic conflict. 

Case File: Curriculum exclusion in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, families who would face becoming minorities in their places of origin were much slower to return than those from the majority ethnic group. Following the war, the education system became highly fragmented, lacking any state-level central coordinating office. This contributed to an education system divided along ethnic lines, with local education systems operating distinct Bosniak, Croat, or Serb curricula. As a result, minority returnees found themselves culturally excluded from the curriculum of the majority in their places of origin (Bowder and Perry 2012).

The availability of education in the region of origin is often central to decisions by IDPs and refugees to return (Ferris and Winthrop 2010). In Peru, for example, IDPs were reluctant to return due to lack of education opportunities (Cohen 2008).

One common challenge faced by returnees, whether from outside the country or from IDP camps, is obtaining certification for learning during displacement (Kirk 2009). For example, returnees after the war in Sierra Leone were often required to repeat years of schooling because the courses that they had studied while in displacement were not recognised (Ferris and Winthrop 2010). Further, returnee teachers trained by NGOs in IDP camps (or those trained in exile while refugees) may also face a major barrier to employment on their return because their training and experience is often not recognised. The issue of teacher qualifications is discussed in more detail in section 3.5.2, and strategies to address certification issues are discussed in section 5.9.

For demobilised child soldiers, education is an important part of the reintegration process, as it provides social and emotional development as well as academic learning (Song and de Jong 2015).

4.3 Coordination and funding of IDP education

The legal responsibility for provision of education to IDPs remains with the national government. Some countries have adopted legal frameworks to protect the rights of IDPs, but only a minority, and of these only a handful have laws or policies specifically addressing the needs of IDP children and youth. In some cases little progress has been made in putting these policies into practice (Smith Ellison and Smith 2012). Colombia is a rare example of a country with a large IDP population that has made significant progress in developing and implementing laws protecting IDPs’ rights, including the right to education. The state is bound by law to provide access to education for all IDP children between the ages of five and fifteen (Espinosa 2013). While the enrolment rate of IDP children in Colombia in 2007 was slightly below that of the general population, analysis of the pre-displacement data indicate that the IDP population had better access to education than they had previously had in their places of origin (Ferris and Winthrop 2011).

Ministries of Education have a central role in providing and coordinating support to education for IDPs.[1] Although the capacity and political will to provide education for IDPs varies greatly from context to context, state-run schools are generally the primary provider of education for IDPs. Ministries of Education can support schools in host areas to accommodate IDP children through multi-shift schooling and building additional learning spaces, with support from the international community where necessary. States eligible for funding from the Global Partnership for Education can apply for accelerated funding to respond to crises, which can include support to IDP education.[2] Ministries of Education can also facilitate access by relaxing requirements for IDP children to have the correct uniforms or documentation for enrolment, and through fee waivers. Reliance on or coordination with national governments can be problematic, however, especially where the government is the agent of displacement, or in areas outside of government control.

In the absence of education provision by the state, IDP communities often set up their own schools, sometimes supported by local faith-based organisations. Examples include southern Sudanese IDPs living in and around Khartoum (Sesnan 2012), IDP communities in the DRC and Pakistan (Watkins 2012), and schools set up by IDPs in camps in Liberia (Mooney and French 2005).

Despite the fact that many IDPs live in conditions of protracted displacement, international support for education for IDPs is generally treated as a short-term humanitarian response. Indeed, in Darfur in 2007 many international development donors said they were unable to support education at all, since this was a humanitarian situation (Penson and Tomlinson 2009). Within humanitarian funding, education tends to be a low priority and is difficult to procure funding for. In 2013, appeals for education made up only 3.2% of the total of humanitarian appeals, and less than 2% of actual funds received (Nicolai et al. 2015; see Fig. 2.1 in Sect. 2.7).

Since 1999 there has been increased coordination of support for education in emergencies (Winthrop and Matsui 2013). The Global Education Cluster was established in 2007 by the IASC to uphold education as a basic human right and a core component of humanitarian aid. In early 2016 there were active country education clusters in 21 countries (see Sect. 2.6). The cluster system has contributed to a greater inclusion of education in humanitarian response,[3] and can facilitate better coordination with national governments.[4] The Education Cluster Handbook[5] recommends that where possible the national Ministry of Education act as co-lead for the country-level cluster.

A lessons-learned analysis of the education cluster response to the 2010 floods in Pakistan found that the cluster was widely recognised as a strong mechanism for coordination and created an effective “platform for partnership”. However, integration between the education cluster and other clusters was weak. This resulted in cases of duplication and missed opportunities for integrated programming with other sectors. The analysis also noted that there was scope for the education cluster to be more aggressive about fundraising (Alexander 2011). The cluster mechanism is designed around short-term humanitarian funding cycles and not well suited to addressing the longer-term education needs of protracted displacement situations (Mundy and Dryden-Peterson 2015).

UNICEF is the co-lead of the Global Education Cluster, alongside Save the Children, and has a long history of supporting education in humanitarian situations. It has also been chosen as the initial host of the Education Cannot Wait fund,  a high-level global partnership formed to improve the education response in crisis settings (see Sect. 2.7). UNHCR does not have a mandate for supporting education of IDPs, but is increasingly active in this role. UNESCO’s role in providing operational support to IDP education is more limited, but it makes significant contributions to the global knowledge base and provides technical assistance to MoEs dealing with IDP issues (Ferris and Winthrop 2010). The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998, as well as providing the most comprehensive data set on IDPs, plays a strong advocacy and training role regarding the rights of IDPs (Smith Ellison and Smith 2012).

UNHCR has signed an MoU with UNICEF which has implications for returnees (UNHCR 1997). According to the MoU, UNICEF is given specific responsibilities and roles with regard to returnees in countries of origin, encapsulated in the statement of “a strong UNICEF commitment to facilitate the reintegration of returnee children and families into national programmes, in particular educational programmes and those related to the monitoring of unaccompanied returnee children.”

Case File: Coordination of education response for IDPs in Syria

In Syria there has been a relatively high level of coordination of efforts by humanitarian and development partners in service provision for IDPs, through the government-led Humanitarian Response Plan (No Lost Generation 2016). In order to facilitate the continued access to education for IDPs, the Ministry of Education has allowed students without documentation to register at any school (using placement tests to identify the appropriate grade of entry), suspended compulsory uniform policy, and organised an extra round of public examinations for children who missed the previous round. Children who have missed out on schooling can apply for accelerated or remedial courses. However, there is evidence that some overcrowded schools have refused admission to IDPs (UNICEF 2015b).

The Syria response illustrates how IDP communities and communities who have stayed put during a conflict often receive less international support than refugees. No Lost Generation is a multi-agency initiative designed to put education and child protection at the centre of the international response to the conflict in Syria and the resulting refugee crisis. In its 2015 update (No Lost Generation 2016), it estimates that there were 2.8 million internally displaced children and 2.1 million out-of-school children (aged 5-17) in Syria. By comparison, among the Syrian refugee population in neighbouring countries there were 2.3 million children and 700,000 out-of-school children (5-17). However, only a third of the No Lost Generation budget was assigned to programmes within the country, due to problems with delivering education support in a conflict zone. It has also been more difficult to raise funds for programmes within Syria.

4.4   Access to education for IDPs

It has been estimated that a substantial proportion of out-of-school children in emergency situations are IDPs (Mooney and French 2005), but the exact numbers remain unknown. In 2008 the IDMC identified 12 countries in which the majority of IDP children had no access to schooling (IDMC 2009). Access to education for IDPs is highly context-dependent.

Case File: Varied level of access to schools for IDPs in Nigeria

In Nigeria, IDPs’ access to education has varied from state to state. In Gombe state some IDP children were refused admission to schools. In Taraba state, schools were attacked and forced to close but others were open to IDPs. In Bauchi, IDPs were able to enrol in host schools but this has led to overcrowding. The timing of the displacement also impacts on access to education: IDPs arriving after the school year began were not able to enrol, so would miss, at minimum, a year of education (IDMC 2014).

IDPs face numerous barriers to accessing education. Mooney and French (2005), Smith Ellison and Smith (2012), Watkins (2012), and Cohen (2008) list the main barriers to accessing education experienced by IDPs. Some of the barriers experienced by IDPs are similar to those experienced by other conflict and crisis-affected populations, including refugees and those not displaced within the country of origin. These include barriers associated with the limited or poor quality supply of education, including:

  • lack of infrastructure due to damage inflicted by the crisis, or stagnated educational development exacerbated by the crisis
  • shortage of trained and qualified teachers
  • unsafe journeys to and from school
  • unsafe schools

Some barriers apply to non-displaced, conflict-affected groups in general, but are especially common as barriers for IDPs. These include factors relating to poverty and ill-health associated with crises. IDPs are more vulnerable to these barriers due to the loss of livelihood, home and possessions associated with forced displacement. These barriers include:

  • school fees
  • material requirements (pens, books, uniforms, transportation costs, etc.)
  • economic responsibilities and the need for child labour
  • psychosocial stress and trauma, malnourishment and ill health (including disabilities) limiting children’s capacity to learn

School fees are one of the most significant barriers for IDPs, whose circumstances often make them doubly vulnerable. Due to the general lack of public schooling available for IDPs, frequently their only option is schools run by non-state providers, i.e. communities, faith-based organisations, and NGOs. These schools often need to charge fees to cover recurrent costs (mainly teacher salaries/incentives), but IDPs are generally the least able to pay these fees. This situation has been noted in DRC, Chad, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Afghanistan (Watkins 2012). In contexts where IDPs access local public schools, there may often also be fees, or other charges including for uniforms and teacher salary top-ups. Transportation costs can also be a barrier.

Some barriers arise as a direct result of sudden and forced relocation to a new, unfamiliar area, and are particular to IDPs:

  • lack of education providers within or near camps and other IDP settlements
  • loss of documentation
  • inability to meet residency requirements for school enrolment
  • language barriers (e.g. for IDPs from minority language groups displaced to majority language host communities or refugee returnees from protracted displacement, where schooling had been in the language of the country of exile)
  • discrimination

Female IDPs are often more affected by the barriers listed above, and face additional barriers to accessing education (Skeie 2012). These include:

  • fear of gender-based violence in and on the way to schools
  • cultural restrictions on girls’ freedom of movement
  • lack of female teachers and girls’ toilets in schools
  • early marriage and childbearing
  • lack of access to sanitary supplies for menstrual management

Mooney and French (2005) list a number of strategies for bridging the education gap for IDP children, including:

  • rapid response education interventions such as “school in a box” for providing education at the early stages of an emergency
  • hiring IDP teachers, especially female teachers, to teach in IDP camps
  • issuing IDPs with temporary documentation
  • school feeding programmes
  • providing alternative education classes
  • improved monitoring and reporting of the availability of fee-free education and of national and international funds supporting IDP education

From their extensive systematic review of the literature, Burde et al. (2015) concluded that more research was needed on the best way to rapidly expand access to large numbers of displaced children. Evidence on camp schools was mixed and mainly from observational studies.[6]

4.4.1   Primary education

Two very common approaches to providing basic education in emergency situations where children cannot access national schools are Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and School in a Box. Penson and Tomlinson (2009) researched these interventions in a range of conflict contexts with large numbers of IDPs, including Darfur and Timor Leste.

There are a variety of conceptions and models of Child Friendly Spaces used by different agencies, but in general they are spaces that are developed, with community participation, with activities to help protect children through structured learning, play, psychosocial support, and access to basic services. In some cases they have been implemented as an education intervention in coordination with child protection. In other cases they are implemented primarily for child protection with limited, if any, explicit education elements (Penson and Tomlinson 2009, Metzler et al. 2015). They often target younger children, and while some are open to a wide range of age groups, they are generally more effective for younger children (Metzler et al. 2015).

In a wide range of IDP contexts it has been noted that while humanitarian agencies have concentrated resources on supporting Child Friendly Spaces, IDP children and families have voiced that they would prefer opportunities to study, and prefer formal education activities over structured play and non-formal education. This preference was noted by Penson and Tomlinson (2009) in Darfur and Timor Leste, by Kirk (2009) among Chechen IDPs in Ingushetia, and by Cohen (2008) in Sri Lanka. In Darfur, the Child Friendly Spaces were so unpopular with children that staff spoke about the need to give them treats to attract them and to “encourage the children not to escape”. One of the reasons why Child Friendly Spaces have continued to be such a common response is that child protection is seen as easier to raise funding for than education (Penson and Tomlinson 2009). Also, they can be quicker to establish than learning spaces and formal schooling.

Another common strategy for supporting basic education in emergencies, including in IDP camps, has been the “school in a box” approach. One of the earliest uses of this approach was in the late 1980s by the Sudan Open Learning Organisation, supporting schools set up in informal IDP camps around Khartoum (Sudan Open Learning Organisation 2005). These informal schools were not recognised by the Khartoum administration, and faced the constant risk of being bulldozed and destroyed. This risk generated the need for a portable school that could be picked up and moved to a new site (Penson and Tomlinson 2009, Sesnan 2012). The concept has since been adopted and adapted by various UN agencies and NGOs as a strategy for supporting education in a wide range of emergency contexts. UNICEF uses kits that are designed to be culturally neutral and maintains a stockpile in various supply hubs around the world, which can be rapidly deployed in emergencies. This is helpful in the case of sudden-onset emergencies and displacements such as the 2004 tsunami. However, one problem with the scaling up of the strategy, combined with the centralised procurement system, is that the stockpiled kits are not adapted to local situations and do not draw on local materials or resources (Penson and Tomlinson 2009). In cases of prolonged displacement, locally developed and procured kits provide a more culturally appropriate and value-for-money approach.

Other examples of material support to improve access include:

  • construction of temporary learning spaces
  • rehabilitation of schools, including schools damaged through use as IDP shelters
  • provision of learning materials including school bags, textbooks, and stationery
  • provision of sanitary kits for girls

Strategies that have been used to cover the costs of schooling, including the direct and opportunity costs, include:

4.4.2   Alternative basic education

National governments, NGOs, and civil society organisations often run non-formal education courses, providing an alternative basic education for children unable to attend primary schools. These courses may include accelerated learning courses which offer a condensed version of the primary curriculum aimed at children and youth who have missed out on some or all of their primary education but are too old to return to primary schools. In Syria, the Ministry of Social Affairs, NGOs, and civil society organisations have been providing remedial classes and accelerated learning classes for IDPs. These courses follow the national curriculum but are not formally recognised by the Ministry of Education. In order for the learning to be recognised, students need to take the national official examinations (UNICEF 2015b).

Case File: The Norwegian Refugee Council’s alternative basic education programmes

The NRC has delivered a range of alternative basic education programmes in a wide range of IDP contexts, mainly targeting children between the ages of 9 and 14. A meta-evaluation of these programmes (Shah 2015b) distinguishes between three types of courses:

  1. Bridging programmes: short-term targeted courses designed to help out-of-school children re-join formal education, for example language courses
  2. Catch-up programmes: short-to-medium-term courses to enable children to catch up on missed education and re-enter the formal education system
  3. Alternative basic education: longer-term programmes that enable learners to complete a full course of basic education

The meta-evaluation found that most programmes either met or exceeded the expected number of out-of-school beneficiaries served, and that many had shown particular success in achieving gender parity in enrolment. The programmes paid particular attention to the specific needs of certain groups such as young mothers and ethnic minorities. The programmes have had varying success in ensuring the transition of learners into formal schools, with transition rates varying from below 30% up to 100%. Inefficiencies appeared to be greater in multi-year programmes. The meta-evaluation notes that there were significant knowledge gaps regarding the longer-term reintegration trajectories of alternative education students. Where tracer studies had been carried out (Angola, Somalia and DRC) it noted that many graduates did not transition into formal school, despite qualifying to do so.

Costs of the formal education system and opportunity costs were found to be major barriers to transition from NRC’s alternative basic education courses into formal education. In Somalia, the NRC addressed this by supporting partner schools so that they could waive tuition fees for IDPs and issuing vouchers to beneficiary households to help cover the opportunity costs. Vouchers were issued conditional on their children’s attendance of upper primary school, and could be redeemed for goods and services from local merchants. Dropout rates among beneficiaries over the two years for which the programme was run was only 1%. However, the upper primary cycle was four years and it was unclear whether attendance would be sustained once the supply of school subsidy and vouchers ended (Lodi 2011).

The NRC has supported alternative basic education over relatively long terms in situation of protracted displacement. For example, it ran one-year basic education courses (using the Teacher Emergency Programme) for over a decade in Angola, Burundi and DRC (Shah 2015b). NRC has attempted to ensure that the pedagogical approaches used in its programmes are sustained and transitioned into the formal education system. There have been challenges with getting Ministries of Education to meet earlier commitments to absorb NRC-trained teachers into the formal system, but NRC has increasingly extended its training programmes to teachers working in the formal system.

4.4.3   Post-basic education

There are often very few opportunities for IDPs to continue studying post-primary. Education programming for “youth” (generally 15 years and older) in IDP situations often focuses on providing technical and vocational skills. For example, in 2008 in Darfur there were no secondary schools in IDP camps. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) was available in some cases, although these generally focused on adults. In a few cases, TVET was available for 15-19 year olds, but with Child Friendly Spaces only catering for children up to 12 years old, this left a gap in provision for 13 and 14 year olds, an age at which children are vulnerable to exploitation, early marriage or recruitment into armed forces (WCWRC 2008, Penson and Tomlinson 2009). In IDP camps in Pakistan in 2009, the education cluster estimated that while 54% of children aged 5 to 11 had access to education services, only 8% of children aged 12-17 had access (Ferris and Winthrop 2010). The annual review of the No Lost Generation initiative notes that adult and youth programming was a challenge in Syria due to the limited number of implementing partners, and human resource constraints (No Lost Generation 2016).

One of the few examples of an intervention by international donors supporting youth education for IDPs is NRC’s Youth Education Pack, which has been implemented in over 13 countries including Afghanistan, DRC, Georgia, Somalia, Sudan, Timor Leste and Uganda. The pack comprises a one-year training programme for youth with three strands to its curriculum: literacy and numeracy, livelihood skills training, and life-skills (including health and micro-business management). After completing the course, beneficiaries receive toolkits to help them set up in the trades in which they have been trained. A global evaluation of the pack found that the programmes were highly regarded by IDP youth and host communities. It identified a number of common challenges including lack of capacity of trainers, market saturation of newly learned trades, and high levels of dropout among female participants. The analysis noted the high cost-per-beneficiary ratio of the pack and suggested options for reducing the costs (Chaffin, Buscher and Ng 2015).

Compared to primary school systems, post-primary education systems tend to be slower to recover following a conflict. Lack of availability of secondary education could impact on refugees’ and IDPs’ decision to return (Ferris and Winthrop 2010).

4.5   Quality of IDP education and learning outcomes

This section considers the very limited evidence on the quality of education available to IDPs, including evidence of the impact of displacement on learning outcomes, evidence of the outcomes of the NRC’s alternative education programmes for IDPs, and evidence of outcomes of training programmes for ex-combatants. Issues of quality regarding teacher supply and training are discussed in more detail in section 4.6.

The quality of education for IDPs varies greatly with context. The INEE’s Minimum Standards for Education (INEE 2010), together with associated tools[7] provide guidance on what international practitioners and experts agree should be the minimum quality of education available to children affected by crises, including IDPs. However, in many cases, the actual quality of education available to IDPs is far below these “minimum” standards. For example, many schools for IDPs in Darfur lacked access to water and sanitation, teacher shortages were common, many schools had student–teacher ratios above 50:1, and half of teachers lacked qualifications (Lloyd et al. 2010).

A learning assessment conducted by UNICEF in Sri Lanka (UNICEF 2010) found that there was a significant learning achievement deficit associated with any form of displacement. Children still living in IDP camps, or those in schools that had been evacuated and subsequently restarted, showed a learning deficit equivalent to three years’ education compared to non-displaced children living in conflict-affected areas. The learning deficit was lower but still significant (approximately 1.5 years) for children who had found places in schools that had continued to function. The impact of displacement on learning was greatest for younger learners.

Relatively few evaluations of the NRC’s alternative education programmes for IDPs included comparisons of retention and learning outcomes with those of the formal system. But data from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Colombia indicate that completion rates and learning outcomes for children in these programmes were similar to or better than those of children in mainstream schools (Shah 2015b).

In their review of youth agency and peace building, Lopes Cardozo et al. (2015) identify a number of positive outcomes of training programmes for ex-combatants:

  • Skills training for ex-combatant youth in Sierra Leone led to real work opportunities and enabled them to participate in community rebuilding, thus facilitating their reintegration.
  • Technical and vocational training courses in Liberia included agricultural vocational training, apprenticeship programmes, and public works. Many youth who had missed out on education chose vocational training rather than formal education. Programmes targeting ex-combatants provided them with skills to participate in Disaster Risk Reduction and to generate new livelihoods. This helped to facilitate their assimilation into communities.

However, the review notes the lack of rigorous evaluation of the peacebuilding outcomes of technical and vocational training programmes.

4.6   Teacher recruitment, training, compensation, and wellbeing

4.6.1   Remuneration for IDP teachers

Teacher migration, like migration more broadly, is impacted by economic opportunities. In cases of civil war, teachers on the civil service payroll may need to move to areas of the country within government control in order to be paid. For example, during the civil war with the Khartoum administration in southern Sudan, many teachers migrated to the garrison towns such as Juba, leading to an overabundance of teachers in these locations. During the conflict in Cote D’Ivoire, the government announced that civil servant salaries would only be paid in government-held areas, resulting in an exodus of teachers from the rebel-held areas (Sesnan 2012). In these ways, teacher payment practices may exacerbate conflict and displacement dynamics.

In cases of forced displacement, teachers may have limited options, but given the poor levels of teacher remuneration available in many IDP camps, it is not unsurprising that teachers are often underrepresented and in short supply there. Compared to other IDPs, qualified teachers are more likely to get employment with NGOs (outside of teaching), get scholarships or find jobs in the wider host community. As a result, organisations supporting education in IDP camps often have to seek out new potential teachers from within the IDP communities, and provide basic training to equip them to teach (Sesnan 2012).

NGOs and UN agencies supporting education for IDPs are more likely to support capital (e.g. building) costs rather than teachers’ salaries. A survey of primary schools providing education for IDPs in Darfur (Lloyd et al. 2010) found that while 84% of schools had received NGO funding for school buildings, and 28% for annual costs, only 19% had received support for teachers’ salaries. NGOs and UN agencies face a dilemma of whether to pay teachers or face a teacher shortage. If NGOs/UN agencies pay teachers a salary as an interim strategy, for example, while a government establishes its response to a sudden population displacement, it enables many children to gain quick access to education. However, it could undermine government authority and create disincentives for governments to start/resume paying teachers and for teachers to continue teaching after the donor funding ends (INEE 2009). Due to these concerns, along with funding constraints, teachers in IDP camps are often given food for work and top-up incentives rather than a formal salary.

The INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation (INEE 2009) recommend that the government, together with NGOs and UN agencies, play a key role in teacher compensation in IDP schools, and that teachers be provided with standardised incentives as an interim arrangement. Where possible, arrangements should be made for teachers on the government payroll to have their place of work and payment officially transferred to the location of displacement. One problem faced by displaced teachers is that, although they may officially remain on the payroll at their school of origin, they may be unable to access their salary and/or their bank account. The INEE recommends a phased handover of the management of teacher payment back to local education offices, with teachers registered on the government teacher payroll, with support from donor funding through multi-donor trust funds in protracted situations.

In practice, teachers in IDP camps can remain reliant on NGO incentives for a long time. This is partly because the incentives are often insufficient to attract qualified teachers, so NGOs recruit and train unqualified teachers, often with only secondary education or less. Governments are generally unwilling to add unqualified teachers to their payrolls, and rarely recognise NGO teacher training (see below), so it then becomes difficult to get the government to pay their salaries. For example, in Zam Zam camp in Darfur, UNICEF set up schools in partnership with the MoE and used volunteer teachers recruited by Parent Teacher Committees. But there were no qualified teachers available in the camp and the MoE did not recognise or pay the volunteer teachers, so they went on strike and the schools closed (INEE 2009). Sesnan (2012) speculates that paying teachers in camps a decent wage, thus attracting qualified teachers, could prove a more cost-effective strategy to the standard approach of limiting teacher payment to small incentives and having to recruit and train unqualified teachers.

Alternative strategies for raising funds for teacher compensation in situations of protracted displacement include school fees (sometimes referred to as “community contributions” in situations where school fees are politically unacceptable) and school income generation projects. The problem with fees, or any obligatory household financial contribution, is that it excludes the poorest families from accessing education. School income generation projects are often ineffectual and can divert teacher and pupil time from teaching and learning. These strategies may not provide adequate income for teachers (INEE 2009).

The INEE recommends that the level of teacher compensation should be comparable to host communities and communities of origin, but that the base wage should not be below that of other skilled workers. In some cases it may be justified to provide additional incentives for teachers in order to promote equity. For example, recruiting female teachers can often be a particular challenge. In Pakistan, UNICEF attracted female teachers to teach in IDP schools by paying them higher salaries than men and hiring their male relatives for other school jobs so that it was culturally acceptable for the women to work in the schools (INEE 2009).

4.6.2   Teacher recruitment and training

Guidelines for the recruitment and selection of teachers are given in the INEE Minimum Standards for Education. Given the shortage of qualified teachers often found in IDP situations, many NGOs develop and deliver their own training courses for volunteer teachers and teachers for working in NGO-supported non-formal education courses, such as accelerated learning programmes. Even where teachers are qualified, further professional development is important to support the quality of education, help teachers adapt to new challenges (e.g. large class sizes, accelerated learning, multi-grade teaching) and curricular content (e.g. peace education), and contribute to teacher motivation.

Examples of courses developed for unqualified teachers include the following:

  • Sudan Open Learning Organisation’s Teacher Assistance Course. This course involved self-study and group study materials on specific, practical themes, for new teachers to study with support from experienced teachers. In the decade from 1996 to 2005, SOLO trained over 31,000 teachers, many of whom were IDPs.
  • Be a Better Teacher. An adaptation of the SOLO materials for the Somalia context.
  • The Teacher Emergency Package. Developed by UNESCO Programme for Education in Emergencies and Reconstruction (PEER), Norwegian Refugee Council and UNICEF, this consisted of a teacher’s guide, training of teachers, ongoing teacher supervision combined with a “school in a box” kit.

In line with evidence of best practice in teacher training in non-emergency situations, a meta-evaluation of the NRC’s accelerated learning programmes noted that: “Programmes that were most effective … were ones that placed heavy emphasis on ongoing classroom-based support through microteaching opportunities, classroom observations, regular supervision, and a schedule of ongoing workshops and refresher courses” (Shah 2015b, p. 9).

4.6.3   Returnee teachers

Many refugee and IDP teachers receive their training and experience in camps, delivered by NGOs or UN agencies. However, when these populations return home this training is rarely recognised by the state (Baxter and Bethke 2009). Refugees who qualify as teachers under a host country system may also find that their home country does not recognise their qualifications on their return. An exception to these persistent challenges was the IRC’s refugee education programme in Guinea from 1990 to 2007, which emphasised the training and regional certification of teachers. These credentials were recognised in Sierra Leone and Liberia upon return, which had a long-term impact on the livelihoods of these teachers; two thirds of them were employed upon return as teachers, often at their old schools (Shepler 2011).

The lack of transferability of teacher certification creates problems, both at the personal level of the returnee teacher who is unable to find salaried work, and at the system level, with the high costs and inefficiency associated with training new teachers. Penson et al. (2012) argue for developing an internationally transferable competency-based framework for teacher professional standards that would cover both formal and non-formal teacher training.

When administrative record-keeping regarding teacher certification is poor, or destroyed by conflict, qualified IDP teachers who have lost their training certificates can face difficulties in convincing the authorities of their qualifications and may find it hard to be included on the teacher payroll (Dolan et al. 2012, Mooney and French 2005).

Teachers who have found employment in their place of refuge may be reluctant to return once a crisis is over, contributing to teacher shortages in post-crisis situations. One strategy to support teachers to return to teaching is to provide housing for returning teachers. This can enhance the school’s permanent capital (if built on the compound), but may be seen to create a precedent for returning professionals and may disadvantage teachers who stayed during the crisis (INEE 2009).

4.7   Protection and wellbeing of IDPs in and through education

IDPs often remain highly vulnerable to risks associated with conflict and insecurity. Children in IDP settlements and IDP schools have been targeted for recruitment into armed forces, for example in Sudan (Cohen 2008), DRC (Watkins 2012), and Sri Lanka (Davies 2013). IDP schools can become targets for attack, as in the case of northern Nigeria (IDMC 2014). There is some evidence that schools that meet in non-traditional settings and those constructed from non-traditional structures are at reduced risk of attack (Burde et al. 2015).

Good quality education can help to protect IDP children. Being in education can protect children from exploitation, sexual violence, kidnapping, and separation from family members (Winthrop and Matsui 2013). Curricula can equip children with skills and knowledge to protect themselves from exploitation, health risks, gender-based violence, land mines, and other risks (see for example No Lost Generation 2016). Cahill et al. (2010) point out that education for children associated with fighting forces should include drug education and sexual health education due to their increased exposure to these risks.

Literacy skills can translate into improved health outcomes, and schooling (formal or non-formal) has been shown to play an essential role in supporting children’s psychosocial well-being across a wide range of contexts (Winthrop and Matsui 2013). Schools provide sites where children can receive other support such as vaccinations, deworming, food and nutritional supplements, and counselling.

For demobilised child soldiers, education provides social and emotional development. Children who are incorporated into armed forces lack opportunities for individual expression and friendships are often discouraged. There is evidence that schooling supports the psychosocial healing process for child soldiers, and leads to more prosocial behaviours and fewer mental health issues (Song and de Jong 2015).

4.8   Integration versus segregation of IDP education

UNHCR and other international bodies (see IDMC 2014, note 17) advise that displaced children, where possible, should be educated in local schools alongside children from host communities. However, this is not always practicable in situations where there is a large sudden influx of IDPs and where local schools lack the capacity to accommodate them. New schools/learning spaces may need to be established to accommodate IDPs, at least in the short term. It is also difficult in cases where the displaced children are unfamiliar with the language of instruction of the host community schools. However, once segregated IDP schools have become established, it can be difficult to transition into an integrated system where IDP children study alongside those from the host community. In the DRC it is difficult for IDP children in camps to join local schools as they are either too far away, too full, or charge unaffordable school fees (IDMC 2014). In Azerbaijan and Georgia, IDP parents often choose to send their children to segregated IDP schools, and the governments have supported their choice to remain segregated on the basis that it helps to keep the memory of their homeland alive, and could facilitate return (IDMC 2014).

Kurdish IDPs in Turkey have experienced compounded difficulties of displacement-induced poverty and discrimination. Under Turkish law, recognised minority groups can set up schools and adapt the curriculum to their own language and culture. However, Turkish law does not recognise Kurds as a minority group, so they are not permitted to adapt the curriculum to their own culture and language (IDMC and RC 2010).

4.9   Impacts on host communities and education systems

In many emergencies, schools are used to provide temporary accommodation for IDPs. This impacts on the access to education of host communities. In Pakistan, around 5,000 schools were used to provide shelter for IDPs fleeing from conflict in 2009 (Ferris and Winthrop 2011), and 5,600 were used as IDP shelters following the 2010 floods (Alexander 2011). In Nigeria, IDPs fleeing from the conflict with Boko Haram sought refuge in schools in the North East of the country. Many schools in Adamawa state were unable to open at the start of the 2014 academic year because they were hosting IDPs. IDPs in Nigeria have in some cases damaged or even destroyed school infrastructure, meaning that schools are unable to function properly, even once alternative accommodation for the IDPs has been found (IDMC 2014). Similarly, many schools in Syria have been used as shelters, with 320 schools being used as shelters in March 2014, according to the Ministry of Education (UNICEF 2015a). Damage and destruction of schools as a direct result of the conflict can further reduce school capacity.

In some cases local integration of the displaced population may be resented and resisted, and education access has been restricted in order to incite IDPs to return to their place of origin (Penson et. al. 2012). In Syria, the influx of internally displaced persons has created tension with host communities over the limited resources available (No Lost Generation 2016). In Sri Lanka, there were concerns among host communities that IDPs would infringe on the local university entrance quota (Davies 2012).

The NRC found that in their alternative basic education programmes in Angola and DRC, parents had hidden their actual status from the NRC in order to enrol their children in the alternative education programmes designed for IDPs. These courses were seen as preferable to formal schools as they were considered to be higher quality and free of cost. In order to alleviate tensions, and to support integration, many programmes allowed for a small proportion of host community children to enrol and included staff from local formal schools in capacity building and training activities (Shah 2015b).

Tensions can arise in the home country when returnees are seen as receiving preferential treatment. Funding allocations from central governments to districts receiving large returns may not increase sufficiently to cover the increased demand for services (Ferris and Winthrop 2010).

The INEE guidance note on Conflict Sensitive Education (INEE 2013) gives strategies for mitigating tensions between displaced and host communities, including supporting programmes that make education accessible to all, and fostering links between host and displaced communities through participation mechanisms.

4.10   Current gaps and challenges

This review of the state of research, policy, and practice in refugee education has uncovered a number of gaps and challenges.

First, the most pressing current challenge is the need for more robust data, analysis, and research, including data on availability, quality, and outcomes of education for IDPs. Only once this becomes available will it be possible to give an informed prioritisation of the most urgent operational gaps and challenges in the field.

Second, given that national governments have primary responsibility for education of IDPs, enhancing national capacity to address IDP education needs should be a priority for the international community. This should cover inclusion of current IDPs in national and local education sector plans, EMIS, and budgets, and contingency planning to reduce the disruption of education in the event of unforeseen future displacement crises. National governments’ legal responsibility to protect IDPs’ right to education needs to be strengthened through the development of legal frameworks at the global, regional, and national level.

Third, despite progress made by the GPE, education provision for IDPs remains impeded by the perception of a humanitarian/development divide within the international donor community. The international donor community needs to develop medium- to long-term flexible funding and implementation mechanisms to support IDP education in situations of protracted displacement (for a full analysis, see the ODI paper on education in emergencies and protracted crises (ODI 2015).

Fourth, improved national-level planning and longer-term, more flexible funding from the international community is needed in order to improve teacher recruitment and compensation strategies in IDP situations, including consideration of strategies to attract and retain qualified teachers (especially female teachers).

Lastly, provision of post-primary education and training opportunities for adolescent and youth IDPs remains a major gap, requiring increased support from national and international actors, and exploration of innovative means of providing cost-effective access to education for this group.

 

[1] See for example the role of the Ministry of Education in Syria in the provision of education for IDPs in UNICEF’s 2015 report Curriculum, Accreditation and Certification for Syrian Children in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, Regional Study: UNICEF 2015b.

[2] See the website of the Global Partnership for Education

[3] See for example the role of the cluster in supporting early childhood education in IDP camps in Sri Lanka (Smith Ellison and Smith 2012).

[4] For example, the Nepal Earthquake Assessment Unit identified the Education Cluster School Structural Assessment as a notable example of close cooperation between a cluster and the government (Nepal Earthquake Assessment Unit 2015).

[5] Global Education Cluster (2010) “Education Cluster Coordinator Handbook,” Save the Children, Geneva, https://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Education_Cluster_Handbook_1.pdf

[6] The Camp Management Toolkit provides resources for practitioners working with displaced communities. Chapter 17 of the Toolkit is dedicated to education, and has extensive links to relevant guides and documents: http://cmtoolkit.org/chapters/view/education.

[7] See toolkit on the website of the INEE, http://toolkit.ineesite.org/inee_minimum_standards

 

Section 5: Opportunities, Innovations, and Best Practice in Education for Forcibly Displaced People

section-5-summary-box

5.1   Introduction

This section sets out some of the opportunities, innovations, and examples of best practice in education for forcibly displaced people. Many of the approaches presented could be used for both refugees and IDPs, and indeed some have been so used. Given the limited evidence base (see section 5.2, and discussion in Appendix A), the range of approaches described here represents a menu of potentially productive strategies, rather than a definitive list of “what works”.

5.2   Note on the evidence base

As noted passim in this report, there is limited generalisable evidence on what works in education for forcibly displaced people. One reason for this is that situations of forced displacement tend to be in flux with very unpredictable futures, which makes it difficult to implement the sorts of structured research exercises which generate robust results. The sections on innovations and interventions should be read in the light of the important caveats contained in Appendix A.

5.3   Supporting impacted communities

Issue: Refugees and IDPs are often displaced with other members of their family and community, or form new communities where they end up. Refugee and IDP education interventions that only look at the needs of individuals are unlikely to have as much success as those attempting to reach individuals as part of a community.

Innovations and Interventions: Often, forcibly displaced people themselves initiate schools and other education programmes to directly respond to the needs of their own communities. Examples include the educational work of Karen refugees along the Thai-Burma border (Oh 2012), and the school set up by the Sudanese community in the Jungle in Calais (Bengtsson, McAllister and Abrahams 2016). While education initiatives by refugees and IDPs themselves usually already have community ‘buy-in’, research has shown that it can be difficult for the forcibly displaced to have a voice in negotiations with other stakeholders, and that often the education delivered through these programmes is not officially recognised (Oh 2012). In other words, such initiatives have a greater chance of success if supported by national and international stakeholders.

Increasingly, researchers in EiE are recognising the importance of taking what is known as an “ecological approach” to education. This concept draws on the work of child development expert Urie Bronfenbrenner and involves understanding each individual learner as part of an ecosystem, involving peers, families, schools, services, governance, etc. Once such an understanding has been built, researchers are in a better position to analyse strengths and weaknesses in the “ecosystem”. Two recent studies have shown the value of such an approach. The first has used it to understand how to connect local and global resources to support educational success for Somali refugees in Kenya (Dryden-Peterson and Dahya 2016), and the second has explored how community-based NFE can support wellbeing of refugees in Denver, Colorado (Shriberg, Downs-Karkos and Wisberg 2012).

In order to support forcibly displaced people in accessing education, some interventions have involved cash transfers to ensure that they can afford the opportunity costs of sending children to school. A quasi-experimental study by Lehman and Masterson (2014) found that providing unconditional cash assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon increased access to school and decreased child labour.

5.4   Ensuring protection, psychosocial support, and safe spaces, and building resilience

Issue: Forcibly displaced people have often experienced high levels of stress and trauma that can make it difficult for them to cope with day-to-day life and can negatively impact their overall health and wellbeing.

Innovations and Interventions: The Better Learning Programme (BLP) is a classroom/school-based intervention designed as a partly manualised, multi-level approach to help teachers, educational psychologists, and parents cope with behavioural difficulties of children who have experienced trauma, while at the same time empowering schoolchildren through strategies for calming and self-regulation. The goal is to promote behavioural change in the classroom, to regain lost learning capacity, and strengthen resilience, concentration, and learning in the school community.

The E2F programme was initiated by CARE International in response to a perceived need to provide children with psychosocial support in the Gaza Strip following Operation Cast Lead (Shah 2015a). The after/before school programme provided (1) regular academic enrichment in English, Arabic, Science, and Maths, (2) key study, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills, and (3) positive peer relationships.

Shah (2015a) reviews both the BLP and E2F Programme and finds they had positive impacts on Palestinian communities, building resilience, communication skills, and counselling skills, in light of increasing instability. However, he questions the depth of the resilience built by these programmes in light of recent increases in violence and instability, and asks whether it is appropriate to restore a sense of normalcy in a site of cyclical violence. He suggests that such programmes may play a key role in supporting immediate psychosocial needs at the onset of conflict, but that longer-term solutions are needed in contexts where conflict is constantly reoccurring, such as Gaza.

In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition that schools can act as a key site for the delivery of mental health interventions in a number of ways, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), creative arts, play, life skills, and sports. According to a systematic review by Tyrer and Fazel (2014), mental health interventions delivered within a school setting can help children overcome difficulties associated with forced displacement. The authors found that achievement in school (in terms of both education and peer relationships) is a key determinant of future success and mental health, echoing Dryden-Peterson’s (2011) finding that education must be of high quality for it to maintain its protective dimension. Ager et al. (2011) conducted a quasi-experimental study centred on creative arts activities in northern Uganda to analyse the effects of a psychosocial structured activities programme on child wellbeing in 21 schools for children ages 7 to 12 (n=203 intervention, n=200 in comparison group). The authors found that there were statistically greater improvements in the wellbeing of participants from the intervention group. Garfin et al. (2014) conducted an observational study on a school-based psychosocial intervention involving life skills for 117 children ages 7 to 9 in Chile following the 2010 earthquake. They found that levels of post-traumatic stress and earthquake anxiety were significantly reduced for the majority of participants. Finally, Lange and Haugsja (2006) conducted an observational evaluation of ‘Right To Play’ programmes in refugee camps in Tanzania and Pakistan and found that programme participation generally supported wellbeing through building of peer relationships, student and teacher relationships, and inclusion of young girls.

When the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, it set up the EU Children of Peace initiative. This initiative funds projects for children in conflict-affected regions. It facilitates access to schools, where they can participate in learning in a safe environment and receive psychosocial support to deal with traumatic experiences of conflict. While there are no readily available academic studies or evaluations of the EU Children of Peace initiative, according to the website over 1.5 million children in 26 countries have benefitted from the initiative so far, though how many of these are refugees or IDPs is not mentioned.

5.5   Addressing disruptions in learning

Issue: Displaced children and youth have often missed out part or all of their basic education, may have had learning interrupted, and may be too old to return to formal primary school.

Innovations and Interventions: Accelerated learning programmes (ALPs) deliver a condensed version of the school curriculum for out-of-school children and youth, with the aim of providing them with the basic learning foundations and enabling them to re-enter the formal school system. The Norwegian Refugee Council has delivered a range of accelerated learning programmes in IDP and refugee contexts (Shah 2015b). Evidence from evaluations indicate that ALPs have been effective at enrolling over-age and out-of-school youth, particularly populations that have been marginalised or stigmatised (for example, girls, and former child combatants). A rigorous review (Burde et al. 2015) found that while there was a great deal of grey literature and project evaluations of ALPs, there were no experimental or quasi-experimental studies and no longitudinal studies.

A meta-evaluation by Shah (2015b) of NRC’s accelerated education (AE) programmes around the world identifies both positive and negative patterns in terms of the design, delivery, and assessment of impact of AE provision across a range of contexts and phases of the humanitarian responses. According to the evaluation, NRC’s AE programmes have made a clear contribution in providing access to education for populations who may otherwise not have such an opportunity. A success of many of NRC’s AEPs has been ensuring that close to 50% of direct beneficiaries are females, often in contexts where achievement of this gender equity target is challenging. NRC has recognised that for students who complete the AE programme, the hidden and actual costs of schooling can preclude them from continuing in formal education. Country programmes vary in how they have responded to this challenge, with some working extensively with schools, others advocating directly with the MoE, and still others including AE beneficiaries’ caregivers in income generation and/or livelihood opportunities to enable them to send their children to school. A strength of NRC’s approach has been the active mobilisation of the wider community, who have gone on to play an important role in reducing issues of stigmatisation, operation and oversight of programming, and the recruitment, selection, and retention of learners and teachers.

The Youth Education Pack, developed by the NRC, is a one-year full-time education package which provides training in literacy and numeracy, livelihood skills training, and life-skills for youth aged 15-24, who have missed out on schooling and skills development due to displacement and lack of opportunities. YEP targets the most vulnerable, with priority being given to young single mothers, youth heads of households, and those with the poorest educational background (see Chaffin, Buscher and Ng 2015 for an external global evaluation of YEP).

An Accelerated Education Working Group has brought together a number of NGOs, donors, and UN agencies to document best practice, standardise terminology and definitions, develop tools for field practitioners, and develop indicators and evidence on Accelerated Education.

5.6   Addressing problems of space

Issue: Forcibly displaced people often face problems of access, insecurity, and constant movement, which prevent them from participating in quality education.

Innovations and Interventions: According to a recent landscape review, ICT can play a key role in strengthening education systems in conflict and crisis; for example, by using mobile money transfers to ensure teachers receive regular salaries, text messaging warning systems, and data collection about students and schools (Dahya 2016). ICT is also used to enhance basic education, teacher training, higher education, and vocational training, which often incorporate blended learning approaches that include locally existing technologies such as mobile phones. Radio and tablets are often used to reach out-of-school children. Mobile phones can be used to distribute audio-recorded or SMS-based information and conduct quizzes. Life skills training through digital video is an increasingly important form of community education. According to the review, much work is being undertaken to develop Open Educational Resources (OER). Finally, social media and networks are increasingly recognised as a crucial education information source for displaced people.

Examples of ICT education interventions include: Can’t Wait To Learn (an innovation developed by War Child Holland to support out-of-school children in Sudan, using tablets to teach mathematics through games); Funzi (mobile phone app for teaching of key skills); RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) (a collection of popular educational resources made available offline); TIGER (These Inspiring Girls Enjoy Reading) (a tablet-based learning programme for adolescent Syrian girls in the UNHCR Za’atari camp in Jordan); Open Learning Exchange (a collaborative educational resource for people affected by conflict); and Vodafone’s Instant Classroom (a ‘school in a box’ for tablet-based teaching in refugee camps).

According to the landscape review, most projects it has identified are still in pilot phase, and thus formal research on the use of ICTs for education for displaced people is still limited (Dahya 2016). The authors point out that there is no single, simple model for sustainability or scale, given the complexity and diversity of contexts, so ICT for education interventions should seek to be iterative and adaptable. Further, they argue that human resources/educators are still the crucial component in the success of education interventions. A working paper by the Global Business Coalition for Education explores whether and how technology can support education and skills training for Syrian refugee youth (Global Business Coalition for Education 2015). A number of key lessons emerged from the review, including the importance of viewing technology as a tool, not the solution; increasing coordination and M&E of programmes; ensuring credibility through accreditation; and prioritising open source development and user-generated content.

The UNHCR is working with organisations to prototype and test innovations with the potential to expand educational opportunities for refugees and IDPs through its Innovation Learn Lab. Learn Lab partners include

Some recent interventions involve bringing educators and educational resources to vulnerable populations through travelling or mobile schools. One example is a collaboration between EAC and BRAC using boat schools to reach children in disaster-prone and remote rural areas.[1] This pilot programme aims to reach 13,000 children through the training of local boat manufacturers, construction and equipping of 400 boats with mobile classrooms, selection and training of 500 teachers, and the creation of 400 School Management Committees with representatives from the community, schools, and local government.

5.7   Building teaching capacity and wellbeing

Issue: Refugee and IDP education faces major challenges regarding teaching quality, because of lack of trained teachers, problems with teacher motivation and compensation, etc.

Innovations and Interventions: The NRC has a long history of working with teachers and school authorities on capacity building in pursuit of durable solutions, for example through the Teacher Emergency Package (TEP) programme. This programme was a collaboration with UNICEF and the MoE in Angola, and involved the training of teachers to deliver catch-up education and other learning opportunities for marginalised children, including displaced and returned children. The teacher guide was based on a participatory and child-centred methodologies and linked to the provision of school supplies. According to Midttun (2009), over 12 years, through the TEP programme 3,188 teachers were trained and 212,000 children enrolled in the one-year catch-up programme, including 104,250 girls. Most of these children would not have benefited from basic education without the TEP and many would not have been able to transfer to the mainstream system, though exact numbers of how many children transferred and completed basic education are not known.

As described in the case file in section 3.6, the IRC launched the Healing Classrooms initiative in 2002, a research-based approach to informing teacher development for student wellbeing.[2] They also worked on a programme of training and deploying female classroom assistants (CAs) in refugee schools in Guinea and Sierra Leone, who were there to support a girl-friendly school environment. While a number of studies have looked at the Healing Classrooms Initiative and found it to be an effective intervention, many of these are observational and/or interview-based and therefore the findings are transferrable rather than generalisable (Burde et al. 2015; see review of evidence base in Appendix A).

Teacher training in the Palestinian refugee education context is discussed in section 3.5.2. Worth mentioning here are the provisions UNRWA makes for further career development, pre-service and in-service training, and learner-centred pedagogies and assessment techniques. As mentioned earlier, there is limited research available on the effectiveness of UNRWA’s latest teacher training initiatives, though the World Bank (2014) did report that the quality of teaching was better at UNRWA schools than in public schools in Gaza, West Bank, and Jordan.

The INEE Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation in Fragile States, Situations of Displacement and Post-Crisis Recovery and the UNHCR Brief on Refugee Teacher Management provide guidance on key areas of teacher management and support. INEE has also conducted a literature review of Teacher Professional Development in Crisis and produced an Annotated Bibliography, which includes key resources on teachers and their professional development. Finally, a new inter-agency training pack, Introduction to Training for Primary School Teachers in Crisis Contexts, was launched in March 2016 as part of an effort to improve teacher training for unqualified or under-qualified teachers often recruited to teach in refugee camps and in a range of other emergency settings. It responds to a critical gap in open source, competency-based teacher training materials that provide coverage of foundational knowledge and skills required by teachers in crisis contexts, where teacher training is often limited to ad hoc workshops. The pack was developed by the Teachers in Crisis Contexts Working Group (TCCWG) which is comprised of seven partner agencies: Finn Church Aid, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Teachers College-Columbia University, UNHCR, and UNICEF, working in close association with the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies. It has undergone systematic review and was field-tested in Iraq and Kenya and externally reviewed by a range of EiE specialists.

5.8   Improving higher education

Issue: According to UNHCR, only 1% of refugees have access to higher education opportunities. When it comes to IDPs, the figures are not known. There tends to be a reliance on scholarships as a strategy to improve higher education access, but for most forcibly displaced peoples these are unrealistic.

Innovations and Interventions: As mentioned in section 3.4.2, the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI) scholarship programme has been functioning since 1992 and is considered an integral part of UNHCR’s mandate (UNHCR 2016b). In 2014, over 2,240 DAFI scholarship students were enrolled in universities and colleges in 41 countries of asylum (ibid.). Another scholarship programme for refugee higher education is the World University Service of Canada (WUCS), which has been supporting refugee scholarships for 35 years. See Appendix F for a figure showing the response of WUCS and other international stakeholders to the Syrian higher education crisis.

DAFI was evaluated in 2007, and was found to be successful in improving enrolment, including female enrolment, which stabilised in recent years at over 40% from a low of 23% in 1992 (Morlang and Watson 2007). Further, 75% of the DAFI graduates who submitted questionnaires had received a bachelor’s degree, and 8% were continuing studies with other funding. Research suggests that most DAFI scholars return to their country of origin, finding employment in NGOs and other UN agencies (Demirdjian 2012a). But they form a relatively small group, and thus questions arise about how much of an impact these scholars can have on overall development in the countries of origin. Studies have also pointed to a relationship between inequality of educational opportunity and the likelihood of renewed conflict (Milton and Barakat forthcoming).

In 2015, InZone launched locally designed learning hubs in Kenyan refugee camps, offering blended higher education courses including humanitarian interpreter training and a MOOC on humanitarian communication to try to provide access to higher education for the 180,000 French-speakers in Kakuma refugee camp. They are currently working to get the courses accredited, so that they are internationally recognised and can facilitate access to the job market for refugee graduates (Moser-Mercer 2016). The InZone higher education initiative is relatively new, but is based on an extensive review of the state of higher education and refugees, and also builds on InZone’s extensive experience in providing humanitarian interpreting education to refugees (Moser-Mercer 2016). As it is relatively new, there is not much scholarly evidence on the effectiveness of the programme as yet.

The Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) aims to make higher education opportunities available where refugees need them, as an alternative to scholarships, which are few and only benefit 1% of refugees who are able to take them based on age, availability, and merit. BHER is currently operational in Dadaab refugee camp and has focused to begin with on teacher training, aiming to provide gender-equitable teacher training and mentoring programmes which pair young women with international scholars and students. BHER describes its course offerings as “stackable”, i.e. students can earn certificates or diplomas at each level to build incrementally towards earning a degree. BHER has only been operational for a relatively short amount of time, so not much evidence is available as yet. However, a number of presentations at the 2016 Annual Comparative International Education Society (CIES) Conference in Vancouver, Canada, focused on BHER and reported initial successes (Dryden-Peterson and Dahya 2016).

5.9   Strengthening capacity for accreditation and certification

Issue: Without a certificate of learning that is recognised by the authorities, it is difficult for individuals to use their learning to access further education, training, and employment. Certification can be particularly problematic for displaced teachers and students, as documentation may get lost during displacement; qualifications gained in one country may not be recognised in another; and alternative and informal education programmes, particularly those delivered by non-state providers, may not result in official qualifications. Certification is also a challenge with distance-learning courses.

Innovations and Interventions: Kirk (2009) presents a range of strategies for addressing certification challenges for refugee and IDP learners. These include cross-border and regional examinations, enabling refugees to study in host schools and sit the national examinations of the host country; accreditation of distance-learning initiatives by universities in the country of origin; development of recognition agreements between governments of the countries of origin and host country governments; and support for development of international conventions such as the “Lisbon Convention” on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region. 

UNICEF’s report on Curriculum, Accreditation, and Certification for Syrian Children in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt (UNICEF 2015b) describes some of the initiatives of the Government of Syria, including the use of placement tests to enable IDP students lacking documentation to enrol in the most appropriate grade, and reissuing certificates based on certification records held within the national education database.

UNICEF and partners in Sudan have worked with State Ministries of Education to support IDP children to attend examination centres by providing toilets, logistical support, school supplies, sanitary supplies, and meals, enabling around 8,000 IDP children to sit their grade 8 examinations, and advocated for changing examination dates to accommodate displaced learners (UNICEF 2016).

Evidence of the successes and challenges of initiatives to support certification for refugees and IDP learners is presented in Kirk (2009). Evidence and implications of certification procedures for returnee teachers are discussed in section 4.6.3.

5.10   Improving data and monitoring

Issue: There is a serious shortage of good data on education for refugees and IDPs (see Sect. 2.5)

Innovations and Interventions: This problem has been recognised by the international community (see Dryden-Peterson 2011), and a number of agencies have attempted to remedy it through increased investments in data and monitoring. One noteworthy development in education data monitoring is OpenEMIS (Education Management Information System), a system initially conceived by UNESCO to be easily customised to meet specific country needs, and which is intended to help education leaders at all levels to efficiently monitor data about schools (UNHCR Malaysia 2016). Other examples include UNRWA, UNICEF’s monitoring and evaluation of the Peacebuilding, Education, and Advocacy Programme (PBEA 2012-2015) (UNICEF 2014), and Adam Smith International’s use of GPS technology to access school data in remote areas (Adam Smith International 2014). Humanitarian agencies are beginning to use satellite and drone imagery to identify IDP settlements and shelters in hard-to access areas.

 

 

[1] See Educate a Child website, http://educateachild.org/our-partners-projects/projects/boat-schools-rural-children

[2] Two recent initiatives from ICR are also relevant here. The Interactive Outcomes and Evidence Framework supports humanitarian and development professionals to design effective programs, http://oef.rescue.org/#/home?_k=um8w1r; and the IRC Toolkit for Safe Healing and Learning Spaces (SHLS) provides child protection and education practitioners with content needed to initiate an SHLS program: http://shls.rescue.org/.

 

 

Appendix

Appendix A: Assessing the Strength of Evidence

General note

This topic guide is based on an extensive (though not systematic) review of scholarly and grey literature (e.g. agency reports, evaluations, guidance documents, etc.). In general, however, the evidence base on the effectiveness of educational interventions for refugees and IDPs is limited. According to a recent rigorous literature review by Burde et al. (2015) entitled What Works to Promote Children’s Educational Access, Quality of Learning, and Wellbeing in Crisis-Affected Contexts, there is very little robust, rigorous, longitudinal and generalisable research in the field of Education in Emergencies. For this reason, while the authors have drawn from a number of quality scholarly sources for this guide, most of those are qualitative, small-scale and/or context-specific in nature, as there are very few experimental or quasi-experimental, large-scale and/or generalisable studies available. The review of the scholarly sources has been supplemented by consultation of grey literature. While these documents and studies are not as rigorous or robust as scholarly sources, much of the work is of a relatively high standard and contains potentially useful lessons for practice and policy.

Literature on IDPs

The body of literature specifically addressing issues of education for IDPs is more limited than that for refugees. This is partly because the concept of IDPs as a distinct group of people with particular needs has only gained international recognition since the 1990s (Mooney 2005). Also, due to significant gaps in monitoring data (see Sect. 2.5), IDPs are relatively invisible to international humanitarian and development actors.

There is a growing literature on education responses in emergencies (see Winthrop and Matsui 2013, Burde et al. 2015) and growing attention to the educational needs of children living in conflict-affected countries (see UNESCO 2011, Menashy and Dryden-Peterson 2015). But while many of the beneficiaries of these education responses are IDPs, the literature rarely distinguishes between education for IDPs and education for other conflict or disaster-affected people. Education and Internally Displaced Persons, a collection of studies edited by Smith Ellison and Smith (2012), is one of the few volumes of empirical studies dedicated to the topic. Other papers that provide a global overview on the issues include Mooney and French 2005, Ferris and Winthrop 2011. There are a small number of papers that focus on education for IDPs in specific situations, for example: Georgia (IDMC and NRC 2011), Darfur (WCWRC 2008, Lloyd et al. 2010) and Angola (Midttun 2009). The IDMC’s Learning in Displacement (IDMC 2010) reviews the international legal frameworks around IDPs’ right to education. There is very little rigorous, peer-reviewed research specifically addressing the education needs of IDPs and the effectiveness of specific interventions. In particular, section 4 has had to draw largely on observational studies and agency reports and evaluations.

Literature on the role of education in protection and wellbeing

Section 3.6 of the review addresses the role of education in the protection and wellbeing of refugees. There is little research on the effectiveness of psychological interventions for children with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from exposure to conflict/war, especially in LMICs (Onyut et al. 2005) – in fact, in a recent systematic review of school and community-based interventions for refugee children, 14 of the 21 studies reviewed were carried out in HICs (11 in school settings) (Tyrer and Fazel 2014); the remaining seven were carried out in camps for forcibly displaced persons in LMICs, but only two looked at refugees (one worked with six Somali refugees aged 13-17 in Uganda, and one with Palestinian children in Gaza). The former study (Onyut et al. 2005) was found by Tyrer and Fazel (2014) to partially fulfil the standards of quality design and methods and to fulfil the standards of treatment quality. Onyut et al. (2005) created and evaluated the efficacy of a child-friendly version of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) known as KIDNET as a short-term treatment for children. Symptoms of PTSD and depression were assessed at three intervals – pre-treatment, post-treatment, and nine-month follow-up – and were found to be sustainably reduced as a result of the treatment. One observational study examining a Serbian community-based Youth Clubs programme and involving pre- and post-surveys with 1,106 boarding school students (aged 15 to 18) found that while traumatic stress was reduced for non-refugee participants, it increased for refugee participants, indicating that the protection and wellbeing needs of refugees are often different from their non-refugee counterparts (Ispanovic-Radojkovic 2003).

Literature on Effective Interventions

The evidence base reviewed for section 5, on Opportunities, Innovations and Best Practice in Education for Forcibly Displaced People, is notably weak. Burde et al. (2015) call for more research to determine how best to expand access to forcibly displaced populations, and point out that while there are approaches that are often implemented (such as offering double shifts at schools, or opening schools in camps or settlements), there is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of these approaches, and that it is often limited to observational studies. There has been a trend among aid organisations towards mainstreaming displaced people into local schools. This decision stems from alternative education programmes facing problems with sustainability, accreditation, and quality, and these organisations have been attempting to strengthen infrastructure and support administration in conflict-affected contexts and countries receiving a large number of refugees. There is, of yet, little evidence on the long-term effectiveness of this approach.

Conclusion: Generalisation vs. Transferability

Why is there limited generalisable evidence on what is effective? To begin with, as was mentioned with respect to section 2, the field of forced displacement as a whole is plagued by poor data and monitoring systems, which makes it difficult to determine the impact, if any, of interventions. Another reason is that situations of forced displacement tend to be in situations of flux with very unpredictable futures. For this reason, it becomes difficult to plan interventions that have long-term, quantifiable, achievable goals and follow a logical, linear pattern, and that can be monitored and evaluated effectively using experimental and quasi-experimental methods – such as the randomised control trial (RCT), which is seen by many donors and other agencies as the ‘gold standard’ of research to inform policy and practice.

There has been an increasing recognition among members of the international education academic community that high-quality qualitative research can help to inform policy and practice, depending on the nature of the research problem, and that while results from qualitative studies cannot be generalised, lessons learned can be transferred to inform practice and policy (Lincoln and Guba 1985). In fact, when it comes to education and forcible displacement, Demirdjian (2012a) notes that each situation is unique in its own way and that therefore it is impossible to come up with a set of specific guidelines that will work universally, even with evidence from RCTs. What can be done through qualitative research is to answer important questions about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of education and forced displacement.

Further, it is often difficult to conduct field-based academic research on education and forced displacement. It can be tricky to negotiate access to forcibly displaced populations – not only do some academic institutions restrict travel for their staff to regions that are perceived to be unsafe, but researchers also often find it difficult to find so-called gatekeepers who can help to facilitate access to vulnerable communities. On a related note, there are many ethical considerations (protection of vulnerable populations, etc.) that need to be addressed by researchers, both individually and officially.[1] In terms of methodology, as has been previously mentioned, there is sometimes a bias among donors and other agencies towards using findings from academic studies based on RCTs. On the one hand, this is problematic because many researchers lack the resources, time, and institutional support to set up rigorous RCTs, and the limited applicability make the costs less appropriate.[2] On the other hand, it means that studies which meet the naturalistic inquiry standards of trustworthiness and quality – i.e. credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability – will be overlooked upon completion or will not attract sufficient funding to get off the ground to begin with (Demirdjian 2012a).

Appendix B: Glossary of Key Concepts

  • Forced displacement/migration
    The Global Program on Forced Displacement (GPFD 2015) defines forced displacement as “the situation of persons who are forced to leave or flee their homes due to conflict, violence and human rights violations.” “Forced migration” tends to refer to the actual movements of those who are forced to flee.

    • Conflict-induced migration/displacement
      Conflict-induced displacement can happen within or across national borders and occurs when people are forced to flee from their homes because of armed conflict (including civil war), generalised violence, and/or persecution due to political opinion, social group, race, religion, or nationality, and their state is unwilling or unable to protect them (Forced Migration Online 2012).
    • Disaster-induced migration/displacement
      Disaster-induced displacement can happen within or across national borders and occurs when people are displaced as a result of natural disasters, environmental change, and human-made disasters. These are overlapping categories of disaster, and it is sometimes difficult to draw clear distinctions between them (Forced Migration Online 2012).
    • Development-induced migration/displacement
      Development-induced displacement occurs when people have to leave their homes due to development-related projects and policies, for example, infrastructure projects such as roads and dams, mining, etc. This type of displacement tends to happen within national borders. Research suggests that this type of displacement (which impacts more people than conflict-induced displacement) disproportionately affects indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, and the poor (Forced Migration Online 2012).
    • Complex emergencies
      Complex emergencies refer to major humanitarian crises that are the result of a combination of factors, including political instability, conflict, violence, social inequality, and poverty, and are often exacerbated by natural disasters, diseases, and environmental instability (FAO 2016).
    • Protracted emergencies/crises and protracted displacement
      Protracted crisis/emergency refers to a long-term humanitarian crisis, characterised by recurrent conflict and/or natural disasters, weak governance and institutional capacity, chronic food crises, etc. (FAO 2016). Crawford et al. (2015, p. 9) define protracted displacement broadly as “a situation in which refugees and/or IDPs have been in exile for three years or more, and where the process for finding durable solutions, such as repatriation, absorption in host communities or settlement in third locations, has stalled. This definition includes refugees and IDPs forced to leave their homes to avoid armed conflict, violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters. It also includes those living in camps or dispersed among host populations.” However, when it comes to displacement, it can be difficult to determine a cut-off date for when it can be considered ‘protracted’ because displacement is a dynamic, fluid phenomenon, resulting in some disagreements between international agencies and scholars (Crawford et al. 2015).
  • Refugee
    According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country.”

    • Refugee Status Determination (RSD)
      RSD is a crucial part of an individual being recognised officially as a refugee. It refers to the administrative (or legal) process by which states (or UNHCR where governments are unable/unwilling) determine whether a person seeking international protection is a refugee (under international, regional, or national law) (UNHCR 2016g).
    • Prima facie status
      According to UNHCR’s Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status, “[s]ituations have […] arisen in which entire groups have been displaced under circumstances indicating that members of the group could be considered individually as refugees. In such situations the need to provide assistance is often extremely urgent and it may not be possible for purely practical reasons to carry out an individual determination of refugee status for each member of the group. Recourse has therefore been had to so-called ‘group determination’ of refugee status, whereby each member of the group is regarded prima facie (i.e. in the absence of evidence to the contrary) as a refugee” (UNHCR 2011).
  • Asylum seeker
    The terms asylum seeker and refugee are often confused (and used interchangeably). Asylum seeker refers to an individual seeking international protection but whose claim to refugee status has not been definitively evaluated as yet. While not every asylum seeker will be recognised as a refugee, every refugee was initially an asylum seeker (UNHCR 2006).
  • Internally Displaced Person (IDP)
    The most common definition of IDPs is the one presented by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in a 1992 report, which identifies them as “persons who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large numbers, as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights or natural or man-made disasters, and who are within the territory of their own country” (Forced Migration Online 2012).
  • Migrant
    There is no consensus on what the term ‘migrant’ means, with definitions ranging from an individual of foreign birth and/or foreign citizenship to an individual moving to a new country to stay temporarily, or to settle in the long-term. Some use the terms ‘immigrant’ and ‘migrant’ interchangeably, while others distinguish the two, using the former to denote an individual who intends to be settled in the new country and the latter to denote an individual who is temporarily resident. ‘Migrant’ can be defined as an individual who is subject to immigration controls (Anderson and Blinder 2012).

    • Economic migrant
      An economic migrant is an individual who leaves his/her country of origin for economic reasons not related to the refugee definition. Such individuals are not entitled to international protection as refugees because they do not fall within refugee status criteria (UNHCR 2006).
  • Returnee
    A returnee is an individual who was a refugee but who has recently returned to her/his country of origin (UNHCR 2006).
  • Stateless person
    A stateless person is defined in Article 1 of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons as “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.” In other words, a stateless person is someone who does not have a nationality of any country. Some individuals are born stateless, others become stateless (UNHCR 2016d).
  • Refoulement
    Refoulement refers to the expulsion of persons who have the right to be recognised as refugees. According to the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the principle of non-refoulement holds that: “No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” The principle of non-refoulement does not just forbid expulsion of a refugee to his/her country of origin, but to any country in which she/he might be subject to persecution (UNESCO 2016).
  • Unaccompanied/separated children
    When an emergency happens, many children are separated from their parents/care-givers. As the status of these children is not immediately clear, they are referred to as ‘separated’ or ‘unaccompanied’, rather than orphans. The Inter-agency Guiding Principles on Unaccompanied and Separated Children defines separated children as “those separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary care-giver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may, therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members.” Further, it defines unaccompanied children/minors as “children who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so” (ICRC 2004).
  • Child soldiers and children associated with fighting forces (CAFF)
    According to the 2007 Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, “The internationally agreed definition for a child associated with an armed force or armed group (child soldier) is any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities” (Child Soldiers International 2016). Many people working in child protection use the term ‘children associated with fighting forces (CAFF)’ rather than ‘child soldier’ in order to capture the diversity of the children who are involved with fighting forces.
  • Home country/country of origin, host country, third country, country of first asylum
    These terms are commonly used in discussions around refugees and asylum seekers.

    • Home country/Country of origin
      Home country or country of origin refers to the country from which a refugee (or asylum-seeker has fled). It generally refers to the nationality or country of citizenship of the refugee.
    • Host country
      Host country refers to the country to which the refugees have fled.
    • Third country
      Third country refers to the country refugees are resettled to if they are unable to go home because of continued persecution/conflict or if they live in dangerous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection.
    • Country of first asylum
      According to the Asylum Procedures Directive, “A country can be considered to be a first country of asylum for a particular applicant for asylum if: (a) s/he has been recognised in that country as a refugee and s/he can still avail him/herself of that protection; or (b) s/he otherwise enjoys sufficient protection in that country, including benefiting from the principle of non-refoulement; and provided that s/he will be re-admitted to that country” (UNHCR 2010).

Appendix C: UNHCR Structural Information

The UNHCR has a staff of over 9,300 people working in 123 countries worldwide. In the field, UNHCR’s core work is managed from a series of regional offices, branch offices, sub-offices and field offices. The High Commissioner’s representatives head operations in the countries where the agency works, while there are also a number of regional representatives (UNHCR 2016c). Education is not such a priority within UNHCR as it is in UNRWA (Dryden-Peterson 2011). UNHCR has tended to rely on external expertise and experience when implementing education interventions, though the agency has recently begun to build its own internal capacity in education, and education has been prioritised to a greater extent over the past five years. It is currently one of six key areas of UNHCR Assistance, along with Public Health, Food and Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, HIV and Reproductive Health, and Public Health Data.

Dryden-Peterson (2011) remarks on the small size of the UNHCR Headquarters Education Unit as of 2011, in contrast to the overall size of the organisation. At the time there was only one Senior Education Officer for overall coordination, policy advice, and technical support for Field Offices, one Tertiary Education Officer and one Education Assistant for management of the UNHCR’s higher education scholarship scheme, DAFI (supported by external funding), and, frequently (though not always) an Associate Education Officer. At the regional and country level, UNHCR relied on education ‘focal points’ (usually Community Service Officers, Protection Officers, or Programme Assistants, and at times UN volunteers, rather than education experts) and Education Officers seconded from organisations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, Irish Aid, and Save the Children. Since the Global Review in 2011, there have been a number of structural changes to the UNHCR Education Programme, which is now set up at the country level as a part of broader programming on protection and durable solutions. By 2014, there were 44 dedicated education officers: 15 on the global team, working at headquarters and regionally; and 29 in field-based positions. There has also been a significant increase in long-term contractual staff for education, particularly in emergency contexts (Tamer 2015). In addition to its own staff, UNHCR contracts over 200 national and international IPs to deliver education programmes at the field level, though there is wide discrepancy in the quality of services provided by these IPs (Dryden-Peterson 2011). Further, UNHCR has a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with key partners, including, for example, with UNICEF (global and national level) (UNHCR 1997). A number of UNICEF’s responsibilities according to the MoU are to do with reintegration of returning populations. Recently, UNHCR has launched the Learn Lab as a collaboration between UNHCR Innovation and UNHCR’s Division of International Protection, which aims to expand educational opportunities for refugees and the forcibly displaced through new approaches to learning (UNHCR Innovation 2015). Table C.1 provides a list of the key UNHCR policies, guidelines, and documents for refugee education in chronological order. 

Table C.1   Key UNHCR policies

UNHCR Document Year
Organising primary education for refugee children in emergency situations: Guidelines for field managers 1988
Guidelines for educational assistance to refugees 1992
Revised guidelines for educational assistance to refugees 1992
UNHCR Education Field Guidelines 2003
UNHCR Safe School and Learning Environment Guide 2007
Ensuring Access to Quality Education: Operational Guidance on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas 2011
Refugee Education: A Global Review 2011
2012-2016 Education Strategy 2012
Education Briefs:

1.       Education and Protection

2.       Out-of-School Children in Refugee Settings

3.       Curriculum Choices in Refugee Settings

4.       Mainstreaming Refugees in National Education Systems

5.       Refugee Teacher Management

6.       Secondary Education for Refugee Adolescents

2015

In addition to structural changes, UNHCR’s Global Strategy for Education underwent significant strategic changes following the 2011 Global Review (Dryden-Peterson 2011). The new strategy (2012-2016) revealed a much bigger emphasis on learning and on quality of education (see box below). This shift reflected global shifts toward quality education and findings of the 2011 review, which found that “Refugee education is not serving its protective function due to a lack of focus on learning” and “UNHCR cannot meet its mandate to provide high quality and protective refugee education with the current level of human and financial resources” (Dryden-Peterson 2011, p. 7).

This education strategy is anchored in a renewed focus on ensuring the provision of refugee education, not as a peripheral stand-alone service but as a core component of UNHCR’s protection and durable solutions mandate. Quality education that builds relevant skills and knowledge enables refugees to live healthy, productive lives and build skills for self-reliance. (UNHCR, 2012, p. 7).
Listed as a priority in the UNHCR Education Strategy 2012-2016, better data and monitoring systems, systems for accountability, and quality assessments are fundamental to the success of refugee education interventions. In an attempt to help countries and other organisations monitor their own progress, in addition to proposed activities, the Education Strategy includes a number of proposed indicators on a range of topics (e.g. enrolment rates, % of teachers trained, % of Education Partners applying the Safe Schools e-learning course in their work, % of persons regularly attending accelerated learning programmes, etc.). Currently, chosen indicators vary from operation to operation, and country to country, and there are very limited central data storage systems.

The following map from UNHCR shows a composite ‘criticality’ score for each of 55 educational operations around the world based on current baseline data on a range of access indicators, including % primary school-aged children enrolled in primary education, % of secondary school-aged young people enrolled in secondary education, and % of children aged 3-5 years enrolled in early childhood education. Further, it considers % of teachers who are female, and % of teachers with professional teaching qualifications, teacher-related indicators which have proven to have an impact on both educational access and educational quality, particularly for vulnerable groups.

Figure C.1   Situation overview for UNHCR education operations (Baseline for 2016 data) (UNHCR 2016b)

figure-c-1-situation-overview-for-unhcr-education-operations-baseline-for-2016-data-unhcr-2016b

The map below shows UNHCR’s target criticality scores for each of the 55 educational operations for 2016:

Figure C.2   Situation overview for UNHCR education operations (Target for 2016 data) (UNHCR 2016b)

figure-c-2-situation-overview-for-unhcr-education-operations-target-for-2016-data-unhcr-2016b

It should be noted that for operations that remain in the critical range on the target map, significant improvements are aimed for, but because the baseline is so low, the operation will remain in the critical range even after great improvements. It should also be noted that not all indicators are available for all 55 operations. In fact, data on % secondary school enrolment are only available for 37 countries, on % teachers who are female are only available for 8 countries, on % of teachers with professional teaching qualifications are only available for 6 countries, and on children enrolled in ECE are only available for 18 countries. This information about indicators points to a well-established problem that has already been mentioned: data management and analysis systems on refugees (and their access to education) are in dire need of expansion and improvement.

Appendix D: Education for Palestinian Refugees

The education situation for Palestinian refugees differs from most refugees worldwide. Palestinian refugees’ literacy and levels of educational attainment are among the highest in the Middle East region. UNRWA is responsible for their education. Education is its most significant programme, making up over 50% of its budget. UNWRA focuses mainly on primary education, and schools follow host country curricula.

A recent World Bank study in West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan, found that UNRWA has a world-class assessment system, and demonstrated higher levels of accountability than public schools. UNRWA students outperformed students attending public schools by over a year in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessment.

UNRWA’s education system has been highly resilient to shocks and new rounds of migration. It managed to implement a major reform despite escalating conflict in Syria.

A number of teacher factors have contributed to the quality of education in UNRWA schools:

  • UNRWA is able to attract and recruit high quality teachers, through their own (free) teachers’ colleges which guarantee employment upon successful completion
  • UNRWA teachers spend more of their working time teaching than teachers in public schools
  • UNRWA schools have more mandated opportunities for CPD
  • UNRWA teachers are supported by qualified and experienced principals/head teachers
  • UNRWA teachers exhibit more confidence, are able to use a more diverse range of teaching methods, and rely more on interactive learning activities, discussions, and assignments than their public school counterparts

As UNRWA teachers come from the same at-risk population as the students themselves, they have shared experiences with the students that allow them to serve as role models and more effectively provide psychosocial support and address learning needs.

UNRWA is seen as a leader in providing education for refugees: in a 2014 report the World Bank referred to the UNWRA education programme as particularly resilient, noting that “it has maintained effective student and teacher performance despite the ongoing shocks it faces” (Shah 2015a, p. 181), and UNRWA has managed to make significant progress on its Education Reform, as described in a recent update (UNRWA Education Department 2015). The update highlighted the full implementation of a holistic, enabling Teacher Policy; the creation of a curriculum framework and progress on embedding inclusive education, human rights, and conflict resolution into education programmes; the resilience of the reform process, despite escalating conflict; and the development of an UNRWA-wide Education Management Information System (EMIS).

UNRWA’s official policy is one of assimilation and integration into host societies. Therefore, UNRWA schools follow host country curricula (Shabaneh 2012), based on an agreement between UNRWA, UNESCO, and host countries in 1954 (UNRWA 2012). This agreement was intended to facilitate access for Palestinian refugees to host country secondary schools, as UNRWA mainly focuses on primary schools (ibid.). However, host country education policies often undermine assimilation efforts by keeping Palestinians separate from their own populations, and Palestinians themselves often resist these efforts as a result of their desire to be recognised as Palestinians with a homeland (Shabaneh 2012). Paulson’s (2015) qualitative analysis of history education in 11 conflict-affected countries, including Israel/Palestine, highlights the potential problems of segregated learning, even where a common curriculum is used: “the lived experience of young learners is likely to trump the intended educational experience when these two are mismatched.”

Not all curriculum materials come from the host countries: UNESCO has supported UNRWA to create its own textbooks on human rights and conflict resolution. Further, as mentioned earlier, the EDCs allow for some cohesiveness across all of UNRWA’s schools, as does the presence of an almost exclusive Palestinian staff (Shabaneh 2012). 

Appendix E: Key UNRWA Education Policy and Strategy Documents

Table D.1   Key UNRWA education policy and strategy documents

UNRWA Document Year
UNRWA Education: Learning Together 2012
Policy Education for Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (also available in Arabic) 2012
Planning and Monitoring for Success 2012
UNRWA Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme 2012
Leading for the Future: Professional Development for Head Teachers/Principals 2012
UNRWA School Based Teacher Development (SBTD): Transforming Classroom Practices 2012
Assuring Quality Curriculum in UNRWA Schools 2012
UNRWA Teacher Policy 2013
UNRWA Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) Education (also available in Arabic) 2013
School Health Strategy 2013
UNRWA Inclusive Education Policy (also available in Arabic) 2013

Appendix F: The International Response to the Syrian Crisis in Higher Education

The following figure shows the current international response to the Syrian Higher Education crisis, which involves the World University Service of Canada.

Figure F.1   The international response to the Syrian higher education crisis (WES 2015).

figure-f1

Appendix G: Principles of Learner-centred Education

Mendenhall et al. (2015) have drawn from the best practice international education literature to come up with a framework for quality learner-centred education, set out in figure G.1 below.

Figure G.1   Core elements of learner-centred education (Source: Mendenhall et al. 2015)

figure-g1

It can be helpful to consider quality across the three key interrelated dimensions of education identified by education scholars, namely: (1) curriculum (what is taught), (2) pedagogy (how it is taught), and (3) assessment (how teaching and learning is measured) (Wyse, Hayward and Pandya 2015). Table G.1 demonstrates how each core element from the figure above links to the dimensions of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment:

Table G.1    Linking core elements of learner-centred refugee education to the dimensions of curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy

Element Dimension Link to Dimension
Meaningful and active pupil engagement Pedagogy

 

Teachers do not just transfer knowledge and rely on rote learning, but work with pupils to ensure that they are active participants in the learning process.
Inclusive and respectful learning environment Pedagogy

 

Teachers work to create a classroom climate that is welcoming to and safe for all learners, and thus conducive to learning. (This includes the use of non-violent discipline and classroom management strategies).

 

Differentiated instruction

 

Curriculum/ Pedagogy/ Assessment

 

Differentiated instruction refers to the process by which different entry points are available to learners according to differences in knowledge, abilities, skills, etc. It happens at the level of curriculum (what all students learn, what most students learn, what some students learn), at the level of pedagogy (the variety of teaching methods employed by teachers to ensure all students are learning), and assessment (a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learned). Differentiated instruction is particularly important for ensuring a quality learning experience for refugee learners, because often they come to the classroom with a broad range of learning needs.
Constructive classroom discourse Pedagogy

 

Teachers enable students to engage in the active co-construction of knowledge, and work on building positive classroom discourse.
Relevant curriculum and language(s) of instruction Curriculum

 

For quality learning experiences to happen, what is taught in classrooms needs to be relevant to learners, not only in terms of building on knowledge and experience they already have, but in ensuring that lessons learned are applicable for their current and future lives and contexts. For refugees, the curriculum question involves decisions around using the host curriculum or the curriculum from the country of origin (or a combination), etc. Often these choices are determined based on availability of officially recognised assessment opportunities. When it comes to language of instruction, research has demonstrated that mother tongue instruction tends to be more effective, particularly for younger learners. The UNICEF EAPRO Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) initiative provides some key ideas about multilingual and mother tongue learning and research (UNICEF EAPRO 2016).
Conceptual learning and critical thinking

 

Curriculum

 

According to the proposed model, curriculum should not just contain key facts and figures for students to memorise, but should provide ample opportunities for learners to engage in more abstract and conceptual learning and to develop critical thinking skills that will serve them in real life beyond the classroom.
Varied comprehension checks and assessments

 

Assessment

 

According to the proposed model, learners should have the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in a number of meaningful ways. Where possible, assessment should be formative – i.e. contributing to the overall learning process. Further, while ‘teaching to the test’ should be discouraged, key national and international assessments should be considered to ensure that refugees’ educational achievements are officially recognised through formative, summative, and inclusive processes.

 

 

[1] Academic institutions generally have Institutional Review Boards which evaluate the proposed research methodology to ensure that the research to be undertaken meets the relevant ethical standards. When working with vulnerable populations, it is usually not possible to expedite the review process, and the proposal has to go in front of a committee. This is a necessary but time-consuming process.

[2] See Dana Burde’s work in Afghanistan for a rare example of quality RCTs on education in conflict-affected settings: http://www.danaburde.com/publications.html

 

 

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Skills http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/skills/ http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/skills/#respond Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:10:47 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=topic&p=27128 Read more]]>
1. Executive Summary2. General introduction and overview3. Skills and development4. Market failures and skills shortages5. Existing systems for skills training in partner countries6. Skills for employment, employability and higher earnings7. The geopolitical landscape - international players and skills training systems in developing countries8. Conclusion9. Annotated bibliography

By expert advisor Prof Simon McGrath, University of Nottingham.

A focus on skills and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) almost slipped off the development agenda after 2000. Excluded from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and marginalised in the Education for All (EFA) debate, the dominant policy and research view was that specific vocational skills were less important than general education and that public provision of vocational skills was particularly ineffective. This orthodox position had largely been developed by the World Bank in the 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., Psacharopoulos 1981 and 1985; Psacharopoulos and Loxley 1985; Middleton, Ziderman and Adams 1993), drawing strongly on human capital approaches.

Yet, the current decade has seen skills and TVET return to the development agenda. TVET is clearly present in the new language of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); UNESCO convened a world conference on the subject in 2012 and is working on a new revised recommendation – its key standard-setting tool; whilst a range of international reports have emerged on skills from organisations such as McKinsey and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the Global Monitoring Report on Youth and Skills. These global policies can be placed against a backdrop of national commitments in developed and developing contexts to diversify and expand skills provision in terms of its supply and demand.

However, the policy of neglect of skills has contributed to a paucity of good international research on the topic and there remains more ideological heat than empirical light in the field. This topic guide seeks to review the current state of the debates.

Whilst there is widespread agreement that the skills of young people, nations and enterprises need to be developed, there is disagreement as to the best ways of proceeding. This is partly because skills is researched from different disciplinary traditions, with very little attempt at genuinely transdisciplinary approaches. Much of the literature, particularly from the discipline of economics, has focused on issues of individual and enterprise investment in skills and the question of whether or not there is market failure present. This can be contrasted with literature from sociology and politics that looks more at the institutional arrangements that make national skills systems more or less effective, seeing current skills regimes as arising out of historical contestations and compromises within wider political economies.

There are not simply disciplinary tensions about how to understand skills. The term skills is also a broad one, with there being differing levels of attention from various communities on technical, cognitive and life skills, and largely independent discussions about skills in general education, in vocational education and training providers, and in enterprises.

For the purpose of this topic guide, skills is defined in a broad way to take account of these different usages and multiple disciplinary traditions are considered. However, throughout, there is a strong focus on the skills that help individuals to access decent work, whether through employment or self-employment, and some focus on the positive consequences for enterprises and national economies that arise from such investments.

Seeking to develop one’s skills is an important characteristic of being human. Many individuals invest very significant proportions of their resources in skills development. However, there is evidence that provision and access to skills is unequal in different countries, regions and contexts (EFA GMR 2012). Marginalised groups are less likely to be able to access skills.

Thus, any interventions in the skills field need to be seen as both a process of overcoming market failures and a matter of promoting social justice. Moreover, there is a longstanding political argument that active citizenship requires effective labour market participation. Inclusion of skills development in the SDGs brings with it the need to think more about how skills contribute to sustainable development, and not just in the narrow sense of “green skills”.

The topic guide reports evidence that skills training has resulted in increased self-awareness, empathy, decision making, goal setting, and communication skills for youth pressure (Olenik and Takyi-Laryea 2013). It also points to evidence of training programmes in developing countries have been shown to have a positive impact on future employment and earnings.

Whilst cognitive skills are linked to increases in incomes and employment chances generally, technical skills training is shown to be more effective when focused on skills closely linked to market demand. Women may benefit from skills training more than men because they are often starting from a greater state of disadvantage in the labour market (Adams 2011). Nonetheless, a solid general education is required as a basis for youth development and for future employment opportunities. For the disadvantaged, skills acquisition is more effective when built on a solid foundation of good quality basic education (Adams et al. 2013).

Vocational education systems may benefit from reform in developing countries. However, it is essential to remember that TVET does not guarantee a solution to youth unemployment. Skills and employment are intrinsically related to overall growth, development and innovation pathways. Policies that promote access to general education and business development are likely to support skills training initiatives.

At the level of TVET system reform, there is a consensus that involving all stakeholders, most particularly employers, in the design and delivery of training, contributes to better outcomes for all. There have been many attempts to reform funding regimes, including through levy-grant systems, but there is a lack of conclusive evidence on their efficacy. Indeed, it appears that systems may need to be well-functioning before these reforms are effective (Dunbar 2013). Similarly, national qualifications frameworks (whether education-wide or just vocational) have been introduced in a large number of countries in recent years but there is considerable evidence on their complexity and little on their positive impact (Allais 2010). There is evidence that apprenticeship programmes provide good quality access to training and to new technology, and are a strong route into decent employment. However, such programmes typically prove hard to deliver at scale, due to the limited numbers of medium to large firms in developing economies and market failure (World Bank a. 2013). Overall, there has been more failure than success with TVET policy reform in developing countries (McGrath et al. 2013).

At the system level, the OECD recommends the following as best practices:

  • Prioritise investment of scarce resources
  • Combine short- and long-term considerations
  • Build a case for lifelong learning
  • Foster a whole-of-government approach
  • Align the perspectives of different levels of government
  • Include all relevant stakeholders (OECD 2012).

Overall, there is a degree of consensus that skills development is an important policy area on both efficiency and equity grounds. However, the complexity of the change mechanisms involved and the limitations of the empirical evidence available highlights the major challenges still involved in investing in skills interventions.

Key messages: 

  • Skills are competencies that can be gained from experiences during and after childhood, especially through education.
  • Skills can be regarded as a spectrum. At one end, basic skills are needed to get any job or even for acquiring further skills. At the opposite end, high skills may be referred to as talent.
  • Provision and access to skills is unequal in different countries, regions and contexts. Marginalised groups are less likely to be able to access skills. Gender stereotypes may limit access for women and girls, channelling them into certain jobs, such as sewing and embroidery.
  • TVET skills are concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.
  • There is a paucity of data and systematic information on TVET and adult education that must be addressed. In particular, there is a paucity of sex-disaggregated data.
  • Training programmes in developing countries have been shown to have a positive impact on future employment and earnings. The findings were not disaggregated by sex. [1]

2.1 Introduction

Topic guides are user-friendly guides focusing on key education, health and nutrition topics. They provide a synthesis of the key evidence on a particular issue as well as links to essential readings. Current issues and debates are discussed where possible. Topic guides are fundamentally designed to signpost readers to the best original sources of information and summarise very briefly the most important findings and messages from those sources, in order to help readers determine which sources are most relevant to them. A topic guide cannot include all relevant concepts, debates, lessons, and evidence in full detail. Instead, a guide should:

  • Introduce relevant ideas briefly to give the reader a basic overview
  • Help the reader decide which concepts, theories, toolkits, and so on may be relevant to the problem and context that the reader is working with
  • Point the reader to relevant sources for further details.

This topic guide is focused on skills immediately necessary for employment and increased productivity. It focuses on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) skills, which are concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work. The importance and value of obtaining basic skills is recognised as a pre-requisite for higher order skills development. This document was written between July and December 2015 and includes evidence that was available at this time.

The selection of materials was guided by the principles of the DfID How to Note: Assessing the Strength of Evidence. The topic guide does not include a critical appraisal of individual pieces of evidence used, but provides an assessment of the body of evidence for the main sections of the guide. The topic guide was assessed by a gender reviewer, who provided guidance on whether gender-relevant implications had been adequately covered. The gender reviewer was independently recruited by IDS BRIDGE. Where possible, the evidence presented was disaggregated by sex. Until a time when more robust data is available, case studies offer a good insight into progress in TVET (EFA GMR 2015). This topic guide draws on case studies and country examples, where possible, to illustrate best practices in the delivery of TVET and other skills programmes.

2.2 Definition and description of skills

There is no consensus among social scientists about the definition of the word ‘skill’ (Green 2011). Skills may involve capabilities and competencies. Some capabilities are innate and some competencies are acquired through academic and non-academic experience. In the English language, ‘intelligence’ and ‘talent’ are used to refer to capabilities that are inborn or acquired early in childhood. Under the Dakar Framework for Action ‘skills’ refers to competencies that can be gained from experiences during and after childhood, especially through education. Under the Dakar Framework ‘life skills’ was understood to advocate the capability of generating or adding value to an economic product but also the skills individuals need for a fulfilling and healthy life and full participation in society (EFA GMR 2015).

2.3 Youth bulge

In the world today over 3 billion people are under 25 years of age. This equates to nearly half of the world’s population. Almost 90 per cent of these young people live in developing countries. This demographic trend is referred to as a ‘youth bulge’, as young people constitute a high and peaking proportion of many populations. The youth bulge represents both a challenge and an opportunity for development. The duration of the youth bulge is critical, as it presents a limited window in which to develop a larger and younger workforce who can drive economic development and play a significant role in social development. Young people are a valuable asset to their countries and investing in them brings tremendous social and economic benefits (Huxley 2010). Jobs and opportunities for these youths are an important aspect on the development agenda in many countries. Better data is needed, but the evidence that does exist suggests that unemployment is but one of the main problems facing low-income countries. In the absence of adequate social safety nets, young people are compelled to take low-productivity, low-wage jobs. Better-paying jobs and opportunities are needed to help people escape poverty. A critical part of the policy agenda for youth employment must be to strengthen human capital. Skills influence employment and earning potential (World Bank 2014). It is necessary to address issues such as the shortfall of higher-order cognitive skills, behavioural and socioemotional skills, technical or vocational skills, and business skills to overcome some of the challenges the youth bulge presents.

The need to develop the skills of young people to prepare them for work is urgent. The long-term consequences of the financial crisis and the challenges of increasingly knowledge-based economies have enhanced the need for a skilled workforce. Young people require skills that prepare them for decent jobs so they can thrive and participate fully in society (EFA GMR 2012). People who cannot read, write and do basic arithmetic have fewer opportunities for gainful employment, entrepreneurial activity or civic participation. A global effort is required to build the foundational skills for entering the workforce and actively participating in society. Foundation skills are necessary for employment that pays for daily needs. Access to secondary school can be measured to give an indication of progress made towards opportunities to acquire these foundational skills (EFA GMR 2015). To address the economic strain of the youth bulge present in many low-income settings, workforce development programmes are critical. This is an opportunity to create new growth in areas like technology or sustainable agriculture.[2] Demand-side efforts must be matched by supply-side efforts to ensure that a highly trained youth workforce will have solid, stable employment options that earn them a living wage. Developing an understanding of what services works best for which populations of youth will be crucial to progress. Measuring long term outcomes will be vital. There is a research gap with regards to understanding community and institutional capacity for youth workforce programmes. This may be due to the lack of common indicators for success (Olenik and Fawcett 2013).

2.4 Skills development in context

Skills development does not exist in a vacuum. Other factors may impact skills acquisition. For example, children who are hungry, malnourished or ill are not in a position to gain the skills needed for later learning and employment (EFA GMR 2012). In addition, many young people combine work with schooling to support their families, which may also restrict their acquiring of skills. Girls, in particular, may combine housework with schooling. Many girls drop out from school at the time of puberty, especially if schools don’t have bathrooms. There are usually fewer secondary schools than primary ones, which means that girls entering secondary school sometimes have to walk further, and if it is not considered safe to do so, they simply stop going to school. Primary school completion rates are reaching parity in many developing countries, but the transition to secondary education is much lower for girls. This affects the level of skills development that they can eventually access and the types of jobs they can get. Evidence suggests working students tend to lag behind non-working students in acquiring foundation skills. Good governance and solid policies can mitigate this impact. For example, the negative association between student employment and academic performance is smaller among students in countries that enforce a minimum working age (EFA GMR 2015).

In sub-Saharan Africa, the non-farm informal sector is a major source of employment and earnings, with household enterprises accounting for most non-farm employment in the region. A lack of skills within the workforce may be a constraint that hampers productivity in this sector. Workers in the informal sector have lower education levels than those in the formal sector, but higher education levels than farmers. Education and training is important for both formal and informal employment as it translates into additional investments in skills and higher earnings. Basic education establishes a solid foundation for further skills development. Cognitive and non-cognitive skills developed in primary and lower secondary education provides a foundation for the acquisition of technical skills and the preparation of individuals for employment with secondary and postsecondary education (Adams et al. 2013). Formal secondary schooling is regarded as the most effective way to develop the skills needed for work and life. Enrolment rates at secondary level have improved, but the enrolment ratio is still low in developed countries. An estimated 71 million adolescents of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2010 worldwide, with three quarters of these living in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (EFA GMR 2012). Unfortunately the data presented here is not disaggregated by sex for comparison.

Education and training are strongly linked to the type of job held. Evidence from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania indicate a positive link between education and training and the probability of holding a job that is not farming. Formal education, and particularly higher education, is linked to employment in the formal wage sector. Lower levels of non-formal training are linked to employment in the informal sector. To improve productivity and incomes in small businesses and household enterprises of the informal sector, strategies need to be developed that consider why the shortfall in skills exist. Factors include low levels of education, unequal access to training, the presence of inefficient markets encouraging skills development, lack of engagement from public training providers, and other market constraints. Expanding basic education is a necessary foundation to skills development, but complementary measures must unlock the potential of existing populations (Adams et al. 2013).

Based on evidence from a five country study from sub-Saharan Africa, strategies aimed at improving productivity and incomes in small businesses and household enterprises of the informal sector should consider addressing the following:

  • Increase efforts of public skills providers in the informal sector
  • Encourage investments in skills by small and household enterprises
  • Improve the quality of training offered by master craftspersons in apprenticeships
  • Expand second-chance programmes for education
  • Provide small firms in the informal sector with information about the benefits of training and competitive sources for obtaining it
  • Encourage industry associations to play a larger role in skills development for the informal sector
  • Improve information available on training providers
  • Promote competition and innovation in training for the informal sector
  • Improving understanding of skills and policy effectiveness (Adams et al. 2013).

2.5 Life skills

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes life skills as a group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathise with others and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner. The EFA Interagency Working Group on Life Skills describes life skills as cross-cutting applications of knowledge, values, attitudes and skills that are important in the process of individual development and lifelong learning. Life skills are necessary to promote good health and to maximise societal contributions beyond just earning a livelihood (EFA GMR 2015). Life skills include social or interpersonal skills including communication, negotiation and refusal skills, assertiveness, cooperation, and empathy. Life skills also include cognitive skills such as problem solving, understanding sequences, decision making, critical thinking, self-evaluation and emotional coping skills (Olenik and Takyi-Laryea 2013). The EFA agenda understands skills to originate from deliberate and intentional experiences offered by formal, non-formal, employer-based or other lifelong learning opportunities. Skills are therefore more specific than general knowledge, as they are intended to yield economic, social, developmental or political consequences (EFA GMR 2015).

2.6 Skills and employment

Work readiness skills are those that help youth to find and obtain employment. They include the ability to describe skills and interests, set career goals, write a resume, search for a job, and contact employers (Olenik and Fawcett 2013). Skills for employment are sometimes referred to as livelihood skills. These can be obtained at the foundation level. They may be transferable in nature or described as relating to technical and vocational skills. Transferable skills can be transferred and adapted to different work environments and jobs. They allow people to retain employment. Foundation skills include the literacy and numeracy skills necessary for getting work that can pay enough to meet daily needs. They are a prerequisite for continuing in education and training, and for acquiring transferable and technical and vocational skills that enhance the prospect of getting good jobs. Transferable skills include the ability to solve problems, communicate ideas and information effectively, be creative, show leadership and conscientiousness, and demonstrate entrepreneurial capabilities. These skills allow people to adapt to different work environments and improve employment opportunities (EFA GMR 2012).

2.7 Skills attainment

Different components of competences that contribute to skills development are likely to be acquired in various ways from various contexts. Formal education and training generates scientific knowledge, while work attitudes may be acquired in multiple sites. Skills development may have different levels of complexity. Basic skills may include cognitive skills needed for getting any job, or even for acquiring further skills. At the other end of the spectrum, talent may be used to describe those with especially high skill. Skills under-utilisation refers to the situation where someone has skills that are not being used for their job. This may be linked to over-education, where someone has achieved education at a level higher than needed to get the job they are doing. A skills gap refers to the opposite situation, where workers do not have the competence to do the job required. A skills shortage vacancy occurs where a job vacancy is hard to fill because applicants lack the skills that are required. A skills deficit is when the level of skills supplied and used is below the desirable level. It can be hard to directly measure skills. Using educational achievement as a benchmark can be problematic, as they are not necessarily interchangeable (Green 2011).

2.8 TVET skills attainment

TVET skills can be acquired through work placement programmes linked to secondary schooling and formal technical and vocational education, or through work-based training, including apprenticeships (EFA GMR 2015). The proportion of secondary school pupils enrolled in TVET programmes has remained at 11 per cent since 1999 (EFA GMR 2012). There is currently no single point of information focused on training taking place outside the authority of education ministries. Skill training is increasingly seen to be an integral part of general education, offering foundation and transferable skills at the same time as job and life skills. The exclusive focus on economic production that historically underpinned discourse around skills has now changed. TVET skills are now regarded as not only generating income, but also enhancing workers’ capacity for future growth. Rigorous evidence on TVET programmes remains scarce. Monitoring and evaluation of TVET programmes are yet to be regarded as a priority. It is unclear whether TVET programmes provide skills to workers who are then allocated work, or whether TVET programmes increase the stock of capabilities in the economy, so that new jobs are created (EFA GMR 2015). Creating new jobs will not solve the problem if people do not have the skills needed to do them. Governments must address the skills deficit to improve employability and reduce reliance on subsistence work (EFA GMR 2012).

2.9 Skills within the wider development agenda context

The Open Working Group of the UN General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recommended a specific target to measure progress on skills in the post 2015 framework. Goal 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all (United Nations 2014). Within goal 4, target 4.4 is focused specifically on TVET, aiming to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. Target 4.7 is also relevant, although it focuses more generally on skills, aiming to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development (United Nations 2014). The inclusion of skills in the post 2015 development agenda was reaffirmed by the UN Secretary-General in his synthesis report on the SDGs, which argues that it is essential that young people receive the skills they need through quality education and lifelong learning (Ki-Moon 2014).

Lifelong learning provides an organising principle and a process perspective that is focused on learning. Members of the education community can learn from each other, facilitating vertical and horizontal progression. The post-2015 agenda provides an opportunity to build a broader enabling environment, which includes TVET. Visionary leadership will be needed to mobilise collective responsibility and actions. For all countries, regardless of economic or industrial status, it is increasingly clear that development problems are rarely contained within one sector but are best addressed collectively. Broader transformations of public policies and governance are required. The transformation of TVET is dependent on such transformations, but importantly it is also able to contribute to them. Mutual benefits can be realised through the transformation of TVET and the transformation of governance in synchronisation (UNESCO 2015).

2.10 Access to skill provision

Provision and access to skills is unequal in different countries, regions and contexts. Marginalised groups are less likely to be able to access skills. Evidence indicates that those who are poor or female may have limited access to skills, which perpetuates and exacerbates their disadvantage. In lower income settings, girls are less likely than boys to achieve foundation skills. Larger gender gaps appear for richer families. Opportunities are extremely limited for both boys and girls from poor households. Geography also has an influence, with young women living in rural areas least likely to acquire foundation skills. Providing equal education opportunities while improving quality will improve skills acquisition and future job prospects (EFA GMR 2012). Skills programmes need to target people who are most in need. Adult education in the private sector tends to be offered to employees, rather than to unemployed or underemployed, adults. Women are less likely to have received adult education than men. The odds of receiving adult education were also far higher for adults whose parents had attained higher levels of formal schooling. Support must be carefully designed or adult education opportunities may be taken up by adults who have already benefited from formal schooling (EFA GMR 2015). Skills development among migrants is also of major concern. International migrants are often at risk of failing to gain life skills. Systemic factors, including legal status, segregation, school finance and language policy, may affect access to both formal and non-formal education (EFA GMR 2015).

2.11 Quality of evidence

The evidence presented on the current status of skills development is based on a medium number of high-quality systematic reviews, most significantly the recent annual EFA reports compiled by UNESCO. These global reports are based on detailed country level data and case studies, and are regarded as highly reliable sources. Further evidence on skills development in more specific contexts – five populous countries across sub-Saharan Africa; conflict-affected states – is based on systemic studies of available statistical data and proposed frameworks for action presented in reports from the World Bank and USAID. Both reports are substantial and wide-ranging, and are transparent in acknowledging limitations based on the paucity of relevant and up-to-date data in their fields. Evidence on the place of skills development in relation to the emerging SDGs is based on reports delivered by the UN: these documents can be widely considered as key to framing the emerging debates surrounding models for skills development.

 

[1] From experience in Pakistan, women with skills who are earning report more confidence, respect in the community, increased decision making in the household, and their spending priorities are on family’s health and education. Frida Khan, gender reviewer.

[2] There are examples of where women have benefitted from training in these new sectors. For example, call centres in Delhi and Mumbai employ more than 1 million people, most of them women. But even within the ‘new’ old patterns re-emerge with women in the monotonous, lower end jobs, and men in the management one. Frida Khan, gender reviewer.

Key messages: 

  • TVET is shown to be more effective when focused on skills closely linked to market demand. However, TVET does not guarantee a solution to youth unemployment. Other factors may have an influence, including growth, cost of labour, legislation, and unrealistic wage expectations.
  • A solid general education is required as a basis for youth development and for future employment opportunities. For the socially disadvantaged, skills acquisition is more effective when built on a solid foundation of good quality basic education.
  • Women may benefit from skills training more than men because they are often starting from a greater state of disadvantage in the labour market.
  • Considering TVET solely through a productivism lens may not address all the issues and challenges. Other theories and paradigms, including a rights based perspective, are required.
  • Marginalisation in skills has no uniform indicator and is therefore hard to measure.
  • Inefficiencies of the public sector, lack of responsiveness and inability to match demand led to a shift of focus towards the private sector being involved in skills development. The public sector must have the capacity to oversee private sector involvement in skills development, to ensure social objectives are met.
  • Comprehensive approaches to skills development, which combine training with employment or work placements, are the most effective.
  • The following challenges can be experienced when trying to involve the private sector in skills training:
    • Initiatives may fail to attract the participation of private firms.
    • Smaller firms may struggle to participate due to cost and capacity.
    • Private firms may lack an understanding of the benefits of training.
  • The private sector can contribute to the governance of TVET systems through national committees or other institutional arrangements, strengthening the skills training being provided. Industrial associations can work to encourage and support training for small enterprises to broaden skills development. Participation from employers in the design and operation of skills training programmes are likely to increase their effectiveness and acceptance.

3.1 Skills and development theory

The orthodox theory of skills sees vocational education and training improving production. Economic development is regarded as the ultimate goal of society. It is assumed that training leads to productivity, leading to economic growth and that skills lead to employability, leading to jobs. Skills therefore lead to both growth and work. There is an opportunity to re-evaluate the purpose of vocational education and training and how it is understood in the context of development theory. The development lens broadens the TVET debate away from higher income settings and Anglophone developed country contexts. It allows for vocational education and training to be considered from a global perspective (McGrath 2012).

Locating TVET within economic development, and theoretically linking it to productivism may be inadequate to deal with some of the challenges present. Other theories and paradigms can expand on TVET and change how we understand the concept. For example, the human rights perspective stresses the importance of educational access. A rights-based theory of educational access should include vocational learning to posit a new right to vocational learning for all. A transition would be needed and the human rights approach would need to incorporate conceptions of human development and decent work, as are offered by other human-centred development approaches (McGrath 2012).

3.2 Barriers to productivity

Research conducted by the World Bank (a. 2013) gathered data from 45,000 companies in developing countries found that the most significant obstacles to their operations were a poor investment climate due to excessive red tape, high tax rates and competition from the informal sector. Inadequate infrastructure (mainly insufficient or unreliable power supply), lack of access to finance or credit, and workers lacking sufficient skills and training were also stated as obstacles, as shown in the figure below. Different obstacles were found to be present in different contexts. For example, while informal markets were sighted as a major hindrance for small and medium-size enterprises in middle-income countries; inadequate power supply was the most important issue for companies in low-income countries. Small and medium enterprises reported that access to finance was a significant constraint, but larger businesses and businesses in high-income countries reported that a shortage of skilled workers was the key challenge for them (World Bank a. 2013).

First, second, and third ranked constraint by firm size and country income group

Skills TG Figure 1

It is estimated that approximately 45 million job seekers join the labour force every year. Research from 41 countries found that a third of companies report an inability to find the workers they need. There is a mismatch between the supply and demand of skills within countries and in the global economy. The world’s labour force is increasingly concentrated in developing economies. There is currently a shortage of jobs requiring low- and medium-skilled workers in both developed and developing economies. Advanced skills and training are more common among workers in developed economies. Demand for highly skilled workers still outstrips supply. The situation is likely to get worse in both advanced economies and in developing countries.

Skills necessary to manage and grow businesses are also lacking, limiting growth potential and job creation. However, evidence suggests that training to improve managerial skills does not have an impact on either the survival of the business or on the number of employees. Managerial training has however been shown to have a positive effect on business practices, profitability, and investments by the business. Approaches to training must be comprehensive and include collaboration between the private sector and other stakeholders such as educational institutions, training providers, and organisations working with youth. Such collaborations must prioritise the design and implement education and training policies that are tailored to market needs (World Bank a. 2013).

3.3 The role of the private sector in skills development

Historically, in industrial countries, a significant amount of skills training was provided by employers and linked to a job. Despite this context, in the 1950s and 1960s, governments in developing countries were encouraged to invest in skills training to complement investments in physical capital. Institutions were developed to provide people with skills. TVET was linked to fighting youth unemployment and relieving demographic pressure on higher education institutions. Those who entered TVET were generally academically less able. It was thought that skills development must be publically funded to compensate for limited private capacity. Many of these schemes failed as the supply of skills became its own justification (Johanson and Adams 2004). Inefficiencies of the public sector, lack of responsiveness and inability to match demand led to a shift of focus towards the private sector being involved in skills development. There is a distinction between financing and provision of skills.

The role of the private sector in skills development is complex. The motivations of private sector stakeholders may vary significantly. They may be driven by productivity, profit, a desire to secure a skilled workforce, to develop reliable suppliers or for corporate social responsibility factors. Private sector involvement in the development of skills may include private companies training, funding or sharing knowledge with the workforce. Alternatively, the training institute or organisation providing the training may be private. Either of these may involve the development of public-private partnerships (PPPs), which are likely to involve cooperation between the public sector and private sector actors working towards a common goal, while sharing risks, resources, and competencies. Such partnerships often involve nongovernmental organisations and civil society (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015). The private sector can strengthen TVET systems by contributing to their governance through national committees or other institutional arrangements. The private sector can provide input into the feasibility of public investment in TVET, identifying demand for skills, developing curricula, managing public training institutions and through monitoring and evaluation activities (ETF and World Bank 2005).

With regards to skills development, evidence indicates that comprehensive approaches, which combine training with employment or work placements, are the most effective. At the national level, PPPs that align current and future labour market demands are a key modality for private sector engagement in demand-driven skills development. These partnerships have had some success in East Asia, where national qualifications frameworks have been developed to enhance labour market functioning. There is some evidence that contracting out for private provision of services will lead to improved efficiency and quality, bringing gains in efficiency and competition. However, a degree of capacity from the public sector to provide oversight may be required to ensure social objectives are met, as private service providers tend to focus on youth who are easier to train or easier to place in jobs (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015).

In many low-income settings, government TVET budgets are regarded as vulnerable and unreliable. TVET may need to be financed by increasing the contribution of beneficiaries, including employers and trainees (UNESCO 2015). The European Training Foundation (ETF) and World Bank (2005) jointly recommended that private sector contributions to TVET will need to be prioritised to sustain diverse, high quality TVET services. TVET financing is often segmented for public and private provision. Private provision is funded through tuition fees. Public provision is funded through direct budget allocations, the collection of modest fees from individuals or from training levies paid by private companies. In the research done by ETF and World Bank (2005), no evidence was found of a successful funding mechanism to open up the training levy to finance private provision.

Private TVET provision over the past decade has become a significant and growing part of TVET in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East and North Africa. Lebanon, for example, now has more people enrolled in private TVET institutions than in public institutions. The Jordanian government is promoting private provision at the community college level (ETF and World Bank 2005). The Morocco Government has produced a legislative framework for private TVET providers. In addition to regulations, governments can support private TVET providers through financial and technical dimensions. Financial support can come in the form of direct subsidies or tuition grants, indirect subsidies or fellowships or bursaries to students, and tax exemptions. The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali gave non-government institutions substantial subsidies and tax incentives. Technical support included the assistance with the training of trainers and curricular design support (UNESCO 2015). The private sector may have a better understanding of the needs of future labour markets, ensuring partnerships aim to overcome failures. The private sector partners, and in particular multinational companies, may have access to substantial resources to inject into skills training (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015).

In the southern Africa region, a number of countries have revolutionised their attitude to private training providers. Attempts have been made to integrate the private sector into a single national TVET system. Despite this progress, there is still a level of ignorance and disinterest in the potential role of the private sector in skills development. Some countries have chosen to focus more explicitly on non-formal provision. Governance, quality assurance and qualifications frameworks reforms should all assist in better thinking across the range of TVET provision types. There is a need for a deeper understanding of skills provision (McGrath et al. 2013).

Structural change may be needed for economic growth in Africa, including the development of skills. Page (2012) believes the current trend is moving in the wrong direction. He states that official development assistance is in part to blame for this. He argues that not enough has been done to encourage private investment in infrastructure and skills, with the focus instead being on potentially low impact regulatory reforms. Going forward, aid strategies should be focused on creating good jobs and sustaining growth. Workers must be trained in skills allowing them to transition from low productivity to high productivity jobs. In Asia, investment from the private sector has been shown to be a key driver of rapid economic transformation. Such investment in Africa from the private sector has not focused on the expansion of high value added activities. Instead, investment in Africa has focused on the exploitation of natural resources, which does not improve the skills base of the population.

Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) is an investment made by a company based in one country, into a company or entity based in another. One theory is that FDI increases jobs and can raise skill levels through knowledge transfer and technical skill spill-over. However, a lack of systematic empirical research makes it hard to assess the impact of FDI on skills in Africa. There is no comprehensive evidence on the magnitude and exact nature of these spill-overs. There is limited data on local management practices with most research regarding local firms as being passive recipients of superior western knowledge spill-overs. To overcome the skills shortage in Africa, private companies must invest more in developing, recruiting and retaining talent. Multinational corporations can develop skills at the local level by drawing on their repository of knowledge embedded in their global network of subsidiaries (Kamoche et al. 2012).

The informal economy is both significant and important in sub-Saharan Africa. Public funded TVET programmes have only played a small part in developing skills for the informal sector. Private sector training organisations are filling the gaps left by public sector institutions. The public sector has yet to respond to the changes in demand for skills brought about by the growth of the informal sector. Private institutions (some profit making and some not for profit) have been more responsive to this demand (Jackson 2012; Adams, 2008). Indeed, the limited capacities of public TVET providers and their inability to respond to the demands of enterprises and trainees are factors driving the expansion of private TVET. Private TVET providers can be more responsive to demand as they are traditionally subjected to fewer bureaucratic restrictions than public institutions (UNESCO 2015). However, the quality of such training provided by the private sector has been found to vary dramatically. The promotion of private training associations would lead to cooperation and reduction of costs, while providing a framework for accreditation and quality assurance (Jackson 2012; Adams 2008).

There are some challenges of engaging with the private sector in skills training. If initiatives may fail to attract the participation of many firms, programmes may be less demand driven than desired. Smaller employers may find it harder to participate due to higher costs and lower capacities (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015). Costs and time needed away from work mean smaller enterprises are less inclined to train their employees. Private firms may also lack an understanding of the benefits of training. Industrial associations, as mentioned above, could encourage and support training for small enterprises to broaden skills development (Adams 2008). Private firms often invest in youth programmes for reputational or corporate social responsibility reasons rather than to increase productivity, meaning resources may not be directed to the areas where skills development is needed in the economy (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015). Provision of TVET by private proprietary institutions or NGOs is often focused in professional areas that typically do not require large capital investment. This makes entry and exit by private providers from the sector easy (UNESC0 2015).

The effectiveness of private sector skills investment will be influenced by the social, economic and political contexts. For example, although private sector investment in South Africa is higher than that of the government, the impact of the investment is eroded by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The private sector is encouraged to invest in the health of employees, as well as in their skills development (George, Surgey and Gow 2014).

When designing skills development programmes with the private sector, Glick, Huang and Mejia (2015) recommend that skills training programmes should involve a level of participation from employers in their design and operation. Where possible, skills that have been developed need to be signalled or recognised, for example through diplomas or certifications. For qualification frameworks to be successful, there must be buy-in and engagement from employers. It is hard to encourage the private sector to offer training in soft skills, like cognitive skills, as they are highly transferable across employers. Therefore such skills may need to be provided by the public sector or NGOs. It is recommended that employment services should be improved and expanded, as they are potentially cost-effective. In terms of advice to donor agencies, the level of involvement between the private sector and skills development will depend on the capacity of the country in question. Weak capacity or a lack of existing public-private cooperation may mean intensive public private partnerships are appropriate. It is recommended that donors focus on providing technical advice and capacity-building on PPPs (Glick, Huang and Mejia 2015).

3.4 Country examples

South Africa

In South Africa, the media and policy circles take the view that unemployment is caused by a shortage of skills and an inflexible labour market. Allais (2012) challenges this and argues that the real reason for unemployment is the inadequacy of the South African social security system, high levels of job insecurity, and high levels of inequalities, which make it almost impossible to develop robust and coherent skills development programmes. The South African example shows how education policy can be trapped in a paradigm of ‘self-help’, ‘employability’, and labour market flexibility that works against the possibility of achieving improved levels of education and skills. A better theoretical understanding of the relationships between vocational education and development is required. To make advancements with vocational education policy, it would be better placed in broader social policy, with better regulated labour markets, job security, more egalitarian social welfare, and an expanded vision of citizenship. In addition, for education to meet the long term needs of the economy, there should be less focus on what employers say they need from employees in the short-term, and more focus on strengthening the educational side of vocational education. This includes building a strong curricula based on well-defined areas of knowledge, and developing a better understanding of how to assist students to acquire this knowledge (Allais 2012).

The private sector in South Africa invests more funds than the government on training. The effectiveness of these efforts is being eroded by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. The real costs of HIV and AIDS on the economy is unknown, but is likely to significantly exceed the training investment lost as a result of increasing morbidity and mortality rates due to HIV. In the South African context, it is in the private sector’s best interest to ensure that a sound HIV and AIDS policy is in place. As well as investing in skills, firms must also invest in effective prevention programmes, complete with access to appropriate treatment to employees if they cannot get them through the public system (George, Surgey and Gow 2014).

South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training is actively involved in the ‘greening of TVET colleges’ initiative. The initiative was launched in 2013 and aims to establish colleges as green environments based on international best practices in the greening of colleges. The initiative focuses on the development of special green profiles and the integration of green issues in selected TVET colleges. Green issues are integrated into training programmes, college policies and plans. Internal and external stakeholders are involved in the greening process. The colleges are linked through national and international networks. South Africa’s future energy supply will need to have lower greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the challenges posed by climate change. There is a need for the development of informed and trained human resources in this field. In 2011,  the Industrial Development Corporation and the South African Development Bank estimated that the total employment potential of the green economy would be over 450,000 direct jobs over the long term until 2030, whilst the projections under the category for energy generation, and energy and resource efficiency for the long term would be 130,000 and 68,000 respectively (Merensky-Hartinger 2014).

South Korea, China, and Mozambique

Those who are disadvantaged were badly affected in terms of jobs growth and employment opportunities by the 2008 global recession. For the disadvantaged, skills education is more effective where they build on a foundation of good quality basic education. This emphasises the value of providing second chances for basic education and investing in literacy for adults. In developing countries that have experienced growth and expanded access to post-primary education, like South Korea, China, and Mozambique, the demand for technical and vocational education has increased. In countries with limited job growth, the demand for skills is weaker. Where access exists to TVET and jobs are being created, the socially disadvantaged are likely to benefit. Conditions favourable for growth and sustaining the expansion of access to skills will be essential to improve welfare through employment (Adams 2011).

DfID programme case study

DfID launched a programme in Mozambique called Skills for Employment (S4E) in 2015. The purpose of the £17 million programme is to achieve higher income among targeted youth, especially young women and girls, acquired through increased access to relevant quality non-state vocational training leading to formal or self-employment.

S4E has three main components and two complementary activities:

  • An Employment Fund will be established to reduce skills failures. It will link specific areas of labour force supply with demand. It will catalyse and broker linkages between employers, especially medium-sized enterprises, and non-state training providers to get young people into work. The programme is intended to benefit young people with the potential to undertake technical training to become the future managers of Mozambique’s growth sectors. A second and perhaps larger group will be young people, who, by completing vocational, second chance or entrepreneurial training, can move into formal employment or self-employment. All beneficiaries will receive training combined with wrap around services to optimise their employment prospects. Attention will be given to women and girls and other socio-economic groups that tend to have limited access to skills training and to viable employment opportunities.
  • A National Association of Non-State Providers will be established to facilitate group interaction with the government and the private sector. An important role of the association will be to improve the quality of training, ensure members adopt common accreditation standards, facilitate experience and information-sharing, provide support services to members like improving the commercialisation of products and services, voice the interests of non-state providers vis-à-vis the government, better respond to labour market demand, and collect data on non-state TVET.
  • Capacity Building for the Government of Mozambique to improve working with, and provide direction to, non-state TVET as complementary to public TVET. Capacity building will also capitalise on opportunities like PPPs stemming from the new TVET law and learn from new TVET financing models and approaches including the commercialisation of products and services. In addition, it will capitalise on innovation and new technology in the skills training sector; and help establish the National Employment Observatory.

Mozambique has high growth rates, but poverty persists. Constraints to doing business in Mozambique include the lack of access to finance, corruption, inadequate supply of infrastructure, inefficient government bureaucracy, and an inadequately educated workforce. There is a noticeable shortage of skills development. The cause of the lack of skills is inadequate completion rates in basic education, inadequate access to TVET and inadequate linkages between curricula and market demands. In Mozambique there has been a rise of private sector interest in skills training to fill the gap in public provision. Most private sector involvement involves partnership with the central or local government. The non-state TVET system is currently fragmented with no mechanisms for collaboration, a lack of accreditation and have limited information available. The expected result from the S4E programme is increased quality, labour-market relevance and financial sustainability of non-state training.

Nepal

Nepal is South Asia’s second poorest country. Unemployment and underemployment among 15 to 29 year olds is 19.2 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent for those older than 15 years old. Women face particular challenges due to a number of factors including age, low educational attainment, and norms around their societal role, marriage and childbirth. Young women have lower labour force participation and higher unemployment rates than men. When women do have jobs they tend to have low-income, low-productivity jobs. Nepal has responded to the youth unemployment problem with a combination of job training and placement services programmes. The Employment Fund Project (EF) was founded in 2008 and competitively contracts training and employment service providers. Training courses are market-driven with providers completing a rapid market assessment during the bidding process. The Adolescent Girls Employment Initiative (AGEI) was launched in 2010 with the objective to reach 4,410 Nepali young women aged 16 to 24 over a three-year period. Research into the AGEI has indicated it had positive impacts on labour market outcomes including employment rates, finding employment and earnings (World Bank 2015). Some useful lessons can be taken away from the evaluation of the AGEI programme. The evidence available suggests that, to be successful, training programmes should be designed around employment outcomes. These can be informed by market assessments. Institutes should be encouraged to not only train, but also help those being trained to find a job. Women and girls stand to benefit more from skills training because they are often starting from a greater state of disadvantage in the labour market. Further research is needed to understand the differing impact of skills training on men and women. Also, specialised outreach strategies may be required to engage with young women and get them involved with skills training programmes. This may take more time and money when compared to the recruitment of other trainees (World Bank 2015).

Bangladesh

DfID programme case study

The Skills and Employment Programme of Bangladesh is a programme funded by DfID between 2013 and 2018. £18 million will be provided to improve skills and employment opportunities for the poor, particularly women, in Bangladesh. This will be done through work with private training providers and large employers to deliver more and better quality training programmes. It is estimated that in Bangladesh, 1.8 million new individuals enter the labour force each year, adding to a backlog of 2.7 million unemployed workers, and an estimated 11 million underemployed workers. 83 per cent of the labour force is either illiterate or has had no formal education. Only 60 per cent of children complete primary and only 5 per cent of the labour force has received training. 1 per cent has received TVET. A shortage of skills is preventing quality employment. Growth in Bangladesh is around 5-6 per cent. If Bangladesh can provide the required skills and education training, opportunities exist to absorb workers into the labour force. However, failure to provide skills and education training will constrain growth.

Informal on-the-job training has been shown to increase wastage and reduce the efficiency and productivity of work processes. The skills gap in the labour force is consistently identified by the private sector as one of the critical binding constraints to Bangladesh’s growth. Despite demand to improve skills in workers, the following market failures result in the inability of the labour market to meet this need:

  1. Weak public skills development systems
  2. Weak training markets
  3. Low incentives for employer firms to invest in formal training and/or in hiring poor people
  4. Training and recruitment mechanisms exclude the poor

 This programme will deliver a total of £56 million in higher income for people trained and placed in jobs. 65,000 poor people (60 per cent of whom will be women) will be linked to semi-skilled or skilled jobs in growth sectors in Bangladesh.

3.5 Quality of evidence

The evidence presented on the relationship between skills and development is based on a medium number of global and context–specific reviews, and are of high quality: Allais (2012) and McGrath (2012) draw on extensive bibliographies and have been peer-reviewed; Merensky-Hartinger (2014) and Adams (2011) are commissioned and published by GIZ and UNESCO. The World Bank (a. 2013) study offers an in-depth analysis of private sector contributions to job creation and poverty reduction. Case studies are context- and project-specific, selected to provide examples of skills development approaches associated with sustainable development theories and objectives. A number of other studies and publications give an insight into the role of the private sector in skills development. While some of these are not defined as evidence under the DfID guidelines, they do offer useful insight into existing programmes and valuable assessment of lessons learned. For these reasons they have been included.

 

Key messages:

  • Private sector companies are likely to have a better understanding of what skills are needed for the workplace. Training provided by the private sector may also allow for smoother transitions into employment. Private firms will seek to recoup the return on investment in training. If they cannot, they will not be willing to finance training in the future.
  • Public training providers must seek to deliver the skills demanded by private enterprises, including management and entrepreneurialism.
  • Governments are encouraged to set policy frameworks that allow for competition and encourage innovation and technological change as well as in correcting market failures.
  • Policy makers need to remove obstacles to firm creation such as poor business climate, and high taxation or excessive start-up costs.
  • Poor data can lead to skill gaps, mismatches and compromises the efficiency of the system. Good data will help to connect the demand and supply sides of the training market. Stronger monitoring and evaluation is needed. Removing constraints to skills development and recommendations on best practice are needed.
  • To be successful, TVET policies must address gender disparities, inequalities and stereotypes that characterise some TVET programmes. Girls and women should on the other hand be given special attention in TVET programmes considering that they are at the lower ranks of skills development, employment and income generation.

4.1 Main failures

Examples of market failures are included throughout this topic guide. Factors such as a lack of jobs growth, the high cost of labour tied to labour legislation, and unrealistic wage expectations may all result in unemployment. Training may not be the most cost-effective intervention in this case. More cost effective interventions may include labour market programmes, such as counselling, job search assistance, remedial education and even direct job creation (Adams 2011). Main market failures are identified as follows: 

  • Lack of information, both on returns to training and on what type of training to undertake and jobs available.
  • Poor market regulation, firms don’t trust qualifications, therefore individuals are unwilling to invest in it.
  • Lack of management capacity to identify training needs for firm/staff.
  • Credit constraints – either to pay for training or because additional, trained staff require additional capital.
  • Large public sector providers with poor incentives to respond to market demands.
  • Unwillingness to invest in staff training as staff turnover is high – externality poaching.
  • Labour market imperfections, use of networks rather than fair and open competition reducing the demand for training.

A good understanding of market failures is necessary to understand the relevance of the skills agenda.

4.2 Private sector investment in training

In the Africa private sector, under-investment in training is common. Demand for jobs is high, and as a result, the formal sector is unlikely to focus on career development and training programmes. Some jobs are protected from competition, so a dynamic skills development programme is less critical. The instability of the informal sector means offering training is unlikely. To overcome these market failings, a shift in the incentives for African firms and multinational companies will be central to develop skills further. The development of partnerships between the private sector and higher learning institutions will be needed to support the curriculum development process. Public providers of education and training must better consider how to deliver those skills which are crucial to all private enterprise, including management and entrepreneurialism (Kingombe 2012).

A key factor in strengthening competitiveness and growth is recognised as workplace related and vocational skills development. Firm-based apprenticeship training schemes have a number of advantages over vocational schools. Certain techniques and customer interactions may be more effectively taught in a work environment than in a classroom. Firms are likely to have a better understanding of what skills are needed for the workplace. Training provided by firms may also allow for smoother transitions into employment. However, firm-based vocational training schemes are not without their challenges. They may not work in all countries. Training provided by firms is hard to verify by a third party. It may be too complex to be specified in a contract in a way that is legally enforceable. Firms may be able to renege on their training promises without punishment. Apprenticeship training schemes are more successful in countries with a strong commitment to training provision. This may be due to the existence of a well-structured regulatory framework and monitoring institution (Dustmann and Schönberg 2012).

4.3 Return on investment

To be competitive, firms must recoup the return on investment in training. If they fail to do so, they will not be willing to finance general training and the training market will break down completely. Evidence suggests that where there is limited commitment to training provision, training intensity is lower than the socially optimal training intensity under commitment to training provision. Training intensities under no commitment are only about 28 per cent of those under commitment to training provision. The inability of firms to commit to training provision results in substantially lower training intensities, which leads to lower enrolment rates into apprenticeship training (Dustmann and Schönberg 2012). The common way to measure the net payoff of TVET investment by both individuals or private businesses and the public sector is the rate of return. The private rate of return (PRR) estimates the future income payoff to resources spent by individuals on various kinds of TVET and the social rate of return (SRR) estimates the future income payoff to the totality of resources (private plus public) spent on these same kinds of TVET. To estimate PRR, the benefit stream must be corrected for all additional taxes paid on the additional income earned by investors in TVET and academic education. To estimate the SRR on the same TVET and academic education, public spending must be added per pupil on each type of TVET and on academic education to the private costs so as to estimate social costs, and use private income streams not corrected for taxes paid on additional income to estimate social benefits attached to each type and level of TVET and to academic education (Kingombe 2012).

4.4 Legal enforcement challenges

Countries that would like to expand firm-based apprenticeship training need to ensure that apprenticeship contracts are legally enforceable and that firms are able to commit to training provision, possibly through stricter regulation of the apprenticeship system, such as the monitoring of training firms, and examination of training achievements by external institutions. Subsidising apprenticeships does not improve commitment and therefore may not be the most efficient way to expand apprenticeship training (Dustmann and Schönberg 2012). Using Ethiopia as an example, Altenburg (2010) cites the private sector as the main driver of structural change from low-productivity activities in agriculture, petty trade and skill-extensive services to new knowledge-intensive activities. Governments need to set policy frameworks that allow for competition and encourage innovation and technological change as well as in correcting market failures. New activities that do not emerge spontaneously must be encouraged where necessary. Ethiopia’s government supports private sector development as it is recognised as an engine of economic growth and productivity.

4.5 Market competition for different skills

Imperfections in labour markets can reduce incentives to invest in skills, both among employers and employees. Without perfect market competition for different skills, employers might invest less in training their workers who can be poached by others. Workers may not invest in their own training if employers have market power and are able to keep wages down. If employers do not create high-productivity jobs because there are no skilled workers, and workers do not invest in skills because there are no jobs, there may be coordination failures.

Standard problems with credit markets can also affect the supply of skills. The lack of information available on skills can bias decisions about investing in skills. To overcome these problems, it is important to correctly identify and address the market failures. This may involve increasing the bargaining power of workers, reducing barriers to entry in product markets, facilitating the diffusion of new technologies that will create demands for skilled labour, designing contracts that reduce the likelihood of poaching, opening credit lines for specific types of training, and providing information about labour market conditions and the quality of various training providers (Almeida et al. 2012).

Subsidies may be required to address coordination failures or improve incentives to invest in training. They should be targeted to individuals and firms that could benefit from training, but would not invest in it. Subsidies should be explicit and preferably financed out of general revenues instead of payroll taxes, which increase labour costs and eventually decrease the demand for labour. Where needed, special training programmes could be developed to meet the needs of vulnerable groups without access to formal programmes. This may be due to their existing low skill levels or because they work in the informal sector where access to training funds is more difficult. These programmes could develop decision making skills and communications, as well as job-specific skills. Ideally, individuals would be linked to internships or programmes that support transitions into self-employment, resulting in a positive impact on labour markets (Almeida et al. 2012).

4.6 Individual investment in professional development

Individuals may not invest in their own professional development as return on their investment in skills training may not be immediately clear. Governments may have a role to play in setting policy frameworks that encourage innovation and correct market failures. In some cases, individuals may not spontaneously seek professional development because interrelated investments are needed to be made simultaneously to exceed the possibilities of individual entrepreneurs.

Return on investment may not be immediate for individuals. If the workers are wage employed, there is no guarantee that employers will reward higher competence with higher wages. Even if employers accept that the training has productivity benefits, it may be in their interest to try to capture as much of this benefit as possible without paying for it. Governments may need to intervene to accelerate structural change and develop industrial linkages and spill overs between training schemes. Governments can set policies to encourage individual investment in skills, but the main driver of structural change remains the private sector (Altenburg 2010).

Individuals may not invest in their own professional development for many reasons, including a lack of information, limited cognitive capacity to process complex problems and psychological factors that act as a barrier to committing to training. Inaccurate information on returns to training may lead to under or overinvestment. A lack of reliable information on the quality of training may put people off. Also, there may be misunderstandings regarding employment prospects once trained. Some individuals may lack non-cognitive skills, such as discipline and perseverance, which may be necessary skills required to complete a training course. Governments can overcome some of these issues by improving information about post training employment prospects, certifying training providers, defining qualification frameworks, providing counselling and offering incentives to individuals to invest in their own professional development (Almeida et al. 2012).

4.7 Youth unemployment

Vocational education and training does not guarantee a solution to youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is often assumed to be due to a lack of relevant skills, making training a preferred option for public intervention. A host of other factors, including a lack of jobs growth, the high cost of labour tied to labour legislation, and unrealistic wage expectations may cause unemployment. Training may not be the most cost-effective intervention in this case. More cost effective interventions may include labour market programmes, such as counselling, job search assistance, remedial education and even direct job creation (Adams 2011).

4.8 Entrepreneurship

The international community or country government can encourage entrepreneurship, which fosters growth, job creation, technology adoption, innovation and poverty alleviation, all of which drives economic development. There is substantial differences across countries in the type of entrepreneurial activities undertaken. In transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe that have dynamic private sectors, the importance of productive (opportunity) entrepreneurship for growth, job creation, competition and innovation is clear (Brixiova 2010).

Analysis of entrepreneurship training for women has shown to have mixed results. There are many benefits to developing female entrepreneurship leading to earning, including changes in the household allocation of resources that improve family well-being, especially of children. Female entrepreneurship can provide employment opportunities to women allowing them to balance both work and family roles. In Pakistan and Tanzania, management training improved management practices and business outcomes for male but not female entrepreneurs. These findings may reflect wider constraints facing women in societies, including access to effective learning in schools (World Bank b. 2013).[3]

In Africa’s least developed countries (LDCs), there is a lack of productive (opportunity) entrepreneurship. In many African countries a substantial productivity lag exists between small, often indigenous, firms and larger firms, which are frequently foreign-owned or owned by ethnic minorities. It has been argued that improving infrastructure and basic social indicators should be the priority, putting the emphasis on the role of the state in development. In the 1980s and 1990s the role of the private sector predominated with market-led development. Persistent weaknesses and market failures have characterised Africa’s LDCs. Leaving the development of a productive private sector to markets alone may not work as successful entrepreneurship is often associated with mere survival rather than involvement in highly productive activities. Entering new activities involves substantial fixed costs and risks which may not be undertaken by the private sector without extra incentives and support from the state. Well-targeted government interventions can ease constraints to productive entrepreneurship and facilitate private sector take-off. Identifying the factors that impede firm creation in Africa’s LDCs will be essential. The evidence points to the lack of skills as an important additional constraint to starting new firms (Brixiova 2010).

An absence of entrepreneurship hampers productivity, creation of skilled jobs, innovation, and poverty reduction. Some of the main constraints faced by entrepreneurs in Africa’s LDCs, include their own skill shortages and those of potential workers. African labour markets typically have an abundance of the necessity for and the scarcity of the opportunity of entrepreneurship. Government interventions may help stimulate private sector take-off, but due to the scarcity of budgetary resources and the numerous constraints, policy actions need to be well-targeted and address the most pressing ones to be effective. To overcome the scarcity of skilled job openings, policy makers need to remove obstacles to firm creation such as poor business climate, and high taxation or excessive start-up costs. Where a scarcity of skilled workers is the problem, training policies may be most effective. Policy selectivity and sequencing can assist with dealing with an evolving dynamic economy. Active labour market policies, including information exchange between available jobs and searching workers, has the potential to be important. Better information contributes to the efficiency of the matching process between skilled openings and workers. Search time would decrease. The quality of job matches and job duration would also improve (Brixiova 2010).

4.9 Transitional failures

Evidence suggests that the lack of means, skills and knowledge make the transition from school to work particularly difficult for young Africans. Many also find it hard to transition between sectors of employment (between farming and a wage job, for example). Translating what they gained from education into productive employment is a challenge. In many cases there is no structured path to follow. In some situations, young people may have been working while also attending school for a long time. Others move into apprenticeships after they finish school, but others do not. Some young people do odd jobs and are supported by their families for as long as five years before they settle into wage jobs or (mostly) self-employment. First-generation school leavers aspiring to be wage workers lack a family history in formal employment. The knock on effect of this is that they may lack the networks to help them to find jobs (Filmer and Fox 2014).

4.10 Systems reform

The evidence on reform of labour market laws is mixed. Theoretical arguments surrounding the impact of Employment Protection Legislation (EPL) on labour market outcomes are generally ambiguous. Some evidence suggests that EPL can reduce turnover and change the composition of employment. There is a positive association between EPL and self-employment. There is some evidence to suggest a negative relationship between EPL and employment. More research is needed to produce better data on the impact of EPL on labour markets (Sanchez Puerta 2010).

As the numbers of young people who are completing basic and secondary education increase, there will be increased pressure on higher education to become more accessible. The knowledge economy demands broadening access to higher education and improving its quality. In countries with limited resources, the challenge will be increasing both the coverage and the quality of education at a lower cost. Information technology has opened up new horizons education and enabled expansion. The Internet has facilitated access to education. Distance education offers a variety of choices in terms of content, schedule, pace, and duration of education, as well as recruitment criteria. It also reduces the cost of education at a time when public funding for higher education was being cut (Depover and Orivel 2013).

4.11 The importance of data on training provision

There is a need to collect data and evaluate the efficiency of existing education programmes to guide educational policy and decision-making. To make sensible policy choices assessment of the present situation is needed, specifying the goals to be reached, the means to attain them, and monitoring what has been accomplished so far. Planning is needed to organise learning: by mapping, targeting, acting and correcting (Depover and Orivel 2013). In particular, sex-disaggregated data is very important in TVET as without disaggregation, discrepancies and discrimination will remain hidden. In order to achieve better outcomes from TVET systems, better planning is needed. If real-time management information systems are lacking, it may be hard to assess the operations of each institution and department. Many of the operational difficulties of the heads of the institutions, faculty and students go unreported. Those which reach the decision-making authorities, have little backing of data and facts. More robust data are needed to improve decisions on TVET systems that must be taken (World Bank c. 2013).

TVET systems must be evaluated. Evaluation mechanisms must be designed to include data collection, benchmarking, and determine the frequency and scope of the evaluation. The design of evaluations needs to incorporate existing reporting mechanisms to reduce the workload of reporting, so that the evidence of the findings can be discussed and given due consideration. Data collected must be analysed so the findings lead to further action or improvement. Consideration of the findings against the goals of the TVET system can identify coherence or divergence from the intended goals (World Bank c. 2013). Robust TVET systems require information for evaluation. A lack of reliable data can lead to skill gaps, mismatches and compromises the efficiency of the system. Information is needed to connect the demand and supply sides of the training market. Feedback mechanisms provide the required data needed to take corrective measures. Cost-benefit analyses, for example, may allow policymakers to weed out unsuccessful programmes and use scarce fiscal resources for those activities that have net benefits (World Bank c. 2013). Stronger monitoring and evaluation is needed to identify constraints to skills development and market failures. In particular, evidence on best practice would be useful to inform donor actions.

4.12 Skills training and gender issues

To be successful, TVET policies must address gender disparities, inequalities and stereotypes that characterise some TVET programmes. Girls and women should, on the other hand, be given special attention in TVET programmes considering that they are at the lower ranks of skills development, employment and income generation (Rubagiza 2010). However, it is important to recognise that there may be gender barriers to accessing TVET programmes, as well as gender barriers to accessing decent employment. Gender discrimination may prevent women from obtaining the training necessary for finding better payed jobs (Kingombe 2012). Gender discrimination may be manifested in various ways. For example, stereotypes about the types of job that are deemed suitable for men and women may channel boys and girls into different training programmes and reinforce enrolment patterns. This may restrict girls from accessing certain training programmes, which may result in them being less likely to enter certain career pathways. Interventions, such as targeted scholarships, financial support or modification of selection criteria, may help to address these challenges. Also, having female instructors or trainers may increase the number of females enrolling in programmes that have in the past been male dominated (Almeida et al. 2012). To ensure that gender issues are addressed, the Government of the Republic of Zambia explicitly included equity (specifically with regards to gender, disability and vulnerability) as an objective in their strategy for delivering skills training. This approach is in line with the framework adopted at the 2000 World Conference Forum, Dakar, Senegal, which also included eliminating gender disparities in education as a goal (Kingombe 2012).

Young women may be particularly disadvantaged by dimensions of the transition from school to work, such as family formation, compared with young men. Social norms may enforce job segregation by gender. For instance, young women in the household enterprise sector work mostly in narrowly defined fields such as dressmaking, even though a range of other occupations could be more lucrative (Filmer and Fox 2014). A study which analysed data from Ghana, Pakistan and India found that traditional gender roles limit female participation in the skills systems of all three countries. Ghanaian women were found to be particularly disadvantaged from accessing TVET due to high levels of teenage pregnancies and/or early marriage. In India, the proportion of women with skills training was a third of that of men. In Pakistan women who want to learn skills are expected to do so in two broad trade areas – dressmaking and crafts (Palmer et al. 2012).

Gender bias may be compounded by a lack of secure accommodation and training facilities being a long distance from home. To overcome these challenges, it is suggested that the government offers financial incentives to encourage girls to study in as it is. Such incentives would help to offset some of the trainee’s direct and indirect costs (World Bank c. 2013). There is some evidence that in countries such as India, where a gender bias may restrict women from accessing education and training, the provision of distance education will enable women to overcome these barriers (Depover and Orivel 2013). Another example of an initiative designed to overcome gender bias is the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI), a programme that works across eight countries. The beneficiaries are young girls between 16 and 24 years of age. The goal of the initiative is to assist girls to make the successful transition to the labour market. There are different challenges in each country, so the AGI was designed to suit the context of each individual country, built around common elements including subsidies for short-term technical training in demand-driven trades, life-skills training to address age and gender issues, and capacity building of training providers. The AGI implements a strong outreach and communication strategy to reach out to the disadvantaged groups, including girls (World Bank c. 2013).

Public TVET systems and providers may address gender issues at the level of access but if gender issues at the employment level are not addressed, barriers will remain. There is a danger that young women may be trained for jobs that are not accessible to them due to failings of the labour market. Smaller employers, in particular, may not be very progressive and interventions may be required to create change. Tomaševski (2001) argues that by focussing on the gender dimensions of education we learn how much change is needed to transform education into rights-based education. The opportunities that girls have after schooling influence the attractiveness of accessing education for the girls and for their parents. These prospects are determined by the ability of girls and women to exercise all their human rights – from equal political participation and representation, to equal access to bank loans. Arbache et al. (2010) offer an analysis of gender disparities in Africa’s labour market. They argue that the gap is not simply the result of discrimination in the labour markets, but the result of various factors, including access to education and credit, cultural values and household duties, and, above all, labour market conditions.

4.13 Country examples

Zambia

Through its Ministry of Science and Technical Vocational Training (MSTVT), the Government of the Republic of Zambia instituted the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) Reforms in 1994. The reforms led to the formulation of a number of TVET strategies and policies. The Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) was created to regulate all forms of TVET. All training providers are required by law to register with TEVETA. In Zambia, the broad development objectives of the national TEVET Development Programme includes the establishment of a training system that was responsive to the demands, improvement in the quality of training, assurance of equity (gender, disability and vulnerability) in the delivery of training and the development of mechanisms for assurance of financial sustainability of the training system (Kingombe 2012).

DfID programme case study

The Skills Improvement Programme (SKIP) is a DfID funded programme in Zambia that was started in 2014 and will end in 2020. The aim of the programme is to achieve higher incomes for TEVET graduates in Zambia by providing greater numbers of women and men with skills beneficial to gainful employment. This will mean that  national TEVET systems are strengthened and more graduates will have relevant, quality technical/vocational skills, with more equitable access to skills development for disadvantaged groups.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia achieved an increase of 5,565 per cent in TVET enrolment from 1999 to 2007. The significant increase in TVET enrolment has been managed by a combination of government funding, intensive short-term teacher training and building of TVET centres. However, the rationale was still that of a supply-driven system. Future TVET reform requires a paradigm shift towards a demand- and outcome driven system. This applies to the management of the TVET system, the institutions involved, as well as the training itself. Performance, rather than input or supply, is the deciding factor for success (Kingombe 2012). The Ethiopian government has prioritised the creation of the preconditions for a market-based and socially inclusive industrial transformation. To gain competitive advantage and move away from feudalism, Ethiopia has targeted the rural poor with investments in technological learning. However, the Ethiopian industrial policy process is not entirely transparent. It is not clear when firms are eligible to receive preferential treatment in term of access to licenses, land, credit and foreign exchange, on what condition ailing firms will be bailed out, and whether these conditions vary between state-owned, endowment-owned, and independent private firms. Also, it is not always clear to what extent political considerations reflect the business strategies, and vice versa. Checks and balances need to be built into any political system, making policy decisions transparent and holding policymakers accountable. Industrial policy should move away from predefining sectors and move towards a system based on open-ended entrepreneurial searching that responds to windows of opportunity. Private entrepreneurs are usually much better equipped to recognise trends and take advantage of new opportunities than government agencies. Governments can help to create a learning environment that is without bias and that engenders entrepreneurs who observe market trends and are ready to take risks, and to support their business projects (Altenburg 2010).

Local entrepreneurs should be encouraged to develop markets. Entry barriers in the domestic market should be low compared to export markets. The government has a role to play in improving framework conditions and nurturing local entrepreneurship with a focus on market expanding innovations. Good policy coordination and clearly defined responsibilities will be needed to succeed. In Ethiopia, the Ministry of Capacity Building was established, but there may be overlap with other ministries. Better defined powers and responsibilities will be needed. More space needs to be created for private service providers to compete with existing public suppliers. Policymakers can then reward those who perform better (Altenburg 2010).

Singapore and Pakistan

Singapore’s Institute for Technical Education (ITE) and Pakistan’s Sindh Technical and Vocational Training Authority are two examples of apex training authorities. They both have clearly defined oversight functions and the capacity to encourage participation of non-state providers while improving the service delivery capacity of public training providers. Competition is fostered in the training market. Communication is strong between training institutions and stakeholders to optimise TVET provision. In certain circumstances, the government may have a role in addressing coordination externalities that affect the development of strategic sectors. Successful examples include the experiences of the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, China, and Singapore. These countries have incorporated demand-driven TVET into their national industrialisation strategies. Known collectively as the Asian tigers, they pursued strategic government-led coordination to encourage a more effective alignment of skills demand and supply as well as sustainable investments in higher-level skills. Institutional mechanisms coordinated economic and training policy, effectively linking industrialisation strategy and TVET programmes. An example of a successful coordinating mechanism is Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), which has coordinated successful skills development schemes during the agency’s first three decades (1961–91) (Almeida et al. 2012).

Niger

In 1998, the Government of Niger started reforms of the TVET sector. The National Office of Vocational Training (ONAFOP) was opened, which offers opportunities to finance training for and by the informal sector and build capacity in the TVET sector. TVET is a priority in Niger because it is considered by the government to constitute an effective means to insert and maintain the youth in the labour market. TVET policy enables synergy between the training systems and employment, delivering to the evolving needs of the labour market. This is built on the relationship between the government and all the partners working in TVET. Despite these reforms, the enrolment of women in TVET in Niger fell from 40 per cent to 17 per cent between in 1999 and 2007. During the same period the percentage of secondary students enrolled in TVET programmes declined from 6 to 1 per cent (Kingombe 2012). Further research is required to explain this drop in enrolment, and in particular the fall in women enrolling in TVET.

India

In India, West Bengal is the fourth populous state. It currently has a youth bulge in its population due to demographic transition. The labour market is dominated by the informal sector, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of all employment. Less than 1 per cent of youth have any formal vocational training. Training delivery is weak and under resourced. There are a lack of performance incentives. Research indicates that female youth workers receive more training than male youth workers. However, nearly all vocational training for employed workers and self-employed workers is of the non-formal kind. The exception is the employed urban female youth, whether employed or self-employed, who have more formal vocational training compared to any other disaggregated category (World Bank c. 2013).

Vocational training in India has varying entry requirements and course durations. The Craftsmen Training Scheme[1] and the National Apprenticeship Scheme of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE) at the national level, and delivered through industrial training institutes (ITIs), is the most recognised vocational training programme in India. In West Bengal, there is a clear social demand for industrial training institute (ITI) places, with seven applicants for every space. In this area, girls tend to enrol in non-engineering trades whereas most ITIs offer engineering trades, traditionally filled by males. This reduces job-related motivation for girls to join ITIs. Lack of secure hostel facilities and distance from home further compound the gender bias. Financial incentives offered by the government may encourage girls to study. There are also gender constraints to skills development in the informal sector, with long distances from home to the training providers reducing parents’ motivation in sending their children, especially girls. Also there is a suggestion in the literature that some households prefer to use scarce resources on developing the skills of male children (World Bank c., 2013). Distance education may overcome some of the constraints and enable women to earn a degree, regardless of gender, caste, or social class (Depover and Orivel 2013).

The TVET system is financed in an ad-hoc way and is dominated by the public sector. There is little monitoring and evaluation, and no quality assurance either internally within the system, or externally from the industry and end-users, namely employers. The demographics are putting pressure on the system to expand, but without up-front reforms to improve quality, governance and accountability, any expansion of the system will be costly and wasteful. Any TVET strategy needs to address quality and cost-effectiveness before expansion. Strategies should also consider how private provision, public private partnerships and various forms of demand side financing and cost-sharing can both generate resources for skills development and make the system more competitive, efficient and integrated. Resource allocation mechanisms must take performance into account to avoid reproducing current inefficiencies. An enabling policy framework must be developed by the government to encourage coordination among various departments providing skills training with sound quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, and promote private sector participation in provisioning and enhancing quality (World Bank c. 2013).

Rwanda

In the past, TVET in Rwanda had a low status. TVET was delivered by public schools under the charge of the Ministry of Education, private schools and those belonging to faith-based organisations. In 2007, all the 55 public and private schools offering industrial and technical courses had an enrolment of 11,815 students, of which girls accounted for 22.5 per cent in 16 disciplines. Professional and technical education was offered in 146 schools, 100 schools providing accountancy and/or office management were teaching 13,424 students, while 25 agriculture and/or veterinary schools were teaching 2,835 students. Total TVET enrolment was skewed by large numbers in the fields of accountancy and secretarial/administration (which represents 54 per cent of the whole TVET enrolment), and as many as 68 per cent of all female students are enrolled in these two business options. With regard to initial vocational training  offered to primary school leavers, there were 54 schools, 32 of these being private. Enrolment in all the 20 optional/trades in initial vocational training was around 7,366, of which females accounted for 45 per cent (Rubagiza 2010). The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) is charged with overseeing TVET in Rwanda. WDA  envisages a new multiple entry/exist system that is integrated with the rest of the education system. A TVET policy published in 2008 highlights the importance of TVET programmes and the need to improve the quality and relevance of TVET. The policy makes clear that Rwanda suffers from serious deficiencies of trained human capital especially in the technical professions. Other problems include the mismatch between the kind of training provided and the labour market requirements, especially the lack of graduates with practical hands-on competencies, lack of enough funding for the sub-sector, shortage of qualified teachers and the stigmatisation of TVET programmes. The policy aims to provide the economy with qualified and competitive workers and to train citizens able to participate in sustainable growth and poverty reduction by ensuring training opportunities to all social groups without discrimination. It hopes to create equitable access to TVET for men and women. Equality and equity are included as policy principles, as promoting equality and equity implies prevention against all forms of discrimination and adoption of affirmative actions to eliminate all kinds of disparity. Gender equality is central to these efforts. Sensitising and encouraging girls to join TVET, especially to enrol in ‘modern’ fields such as ICT, is highlighted under the cross-cutting issues (Rubagiza 2010).

4.14 Quality of evidence

The evidence presented on market failures and skills strategies in relation to skills development is drawn from a medium number of both global and context–specific documents. These include discussion papers, commissioned reports from international bodies (World Bank; UNESCO) and peer-reviewed papers. All are of high quality, presenting substantial bibliographies and discussions of methodologies applied during research. The selected documents ensure representation of evidence from industrialised, middle-income and low-income contexts, and country case studies are regionally drawn from across SSA, South Asia and South-East Asia. Palmer et al. (2012) provide high quality analysis of three case studies (Ghana, India and Pakistan) in terms of skills, lives and livelihoods. Rubagiza (2010) offers a medium quality paper focusing on gender and TVET in the context of Rwanda. Arbache et al. (2010) deliver an assessment of gender disparities in Africa’s labour market, published by the World Bank. Although the paper by Tomaševski (2001) was published over a decade ago, the theoretical arguments regarding access to education and gender are of high quality and remain pertinent.

 

[3] This points to the fact that encouraging entrepreneurship for women will mean looking at other factors such as attitudes (men are supposed be in business. It’s not good for women to deal with the public), mobility (safe transport to get to markets to buy inputs, do market research, make sales), financing (some banks only lend to men or women with a male guarantor. They require collateral such as land, what women rarely hold titles to). Skills are so closely related to jobs and therefore also the wider environment of workplace policies, safety and security, transport and bank lending policies. Investment in women’s skills development has, no doubt, positive effects. South Korea for example, made skills development for women a pillar (1 out 3 pillars) of their economic growth strategy and it has worked. But for the investment to be really productive, it has to be supported by a range of wider gender equality promoting reforms, attitudinal, institutional and infrastructural. Frida Khan, gender reviewer.

[4] This is an example of a gender stereotype present in the TVET terminology. Frida Khan, gender reviewer.

Key messages: 

  • Most countries in the world are striving to improve skills levels and training systems. This is being done through various policies including improving qualification frameworks, reforming education systems, reforming public providers and providing private providers a level playing field.
  • Skills training must respond to what is Local people already involved in successful businesses or service provision can become effective trainers, passing on their skills to others.
  • Relationships must be established between education and training systems and labour markets to ensure synergy.
  • Training in enterprises needs to be supported more. National TVET systems may be able to effectively support micro and informal enterprises. More research is needed in this area.
  • People with disabilities should have access to the skills and training they require. Lifelong learning can assist impoverished people with disabilities to escape from poverty and dependence.
  • Efforts are needed to improve access to quality basic education, which provides the foundation skills needed to go on to acquire more specialised skills.

5.1 Strategic priorities for the present

Evidence shows that TVET interventions have promise and are worthy of investment to assist youth in developing countries. A systematic review found that TVET interventions increase the number of hours worked in paid employment by young women but not young men. Statistically, the effects of TVET are shown to be small. However, a small increase in the rate of paid employment may translate into large numbers of young people entering the labour market, where programmes are delivered nationally. It is recommended that the cheapest and/or most culturally acceptable models are implemented until further data is provided on which approach is best. Future programmes must be evaluated rigorously. Different stakeholders must consider how to improve programmes to create larger effects on the outcomes (Tripney et al. 2013).

5.2 Strategic priorities for the future

Improving skills levels, reforming education and training systems, and improving qualification frameworks are among the policy priorities of most countries around the world. Countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have demonstrated an understanding of how the TVET system should and can operate, reflecting both international trends and the technical advice they have received from development partners, particularly the multilateral agencies. McGrath et al. (2013) describe the key elements of model TVET reform to include:

  • A qualifications framework
  • Quality assurance
  • Policy coherence concerns
  • National governance reform
  • Employer involvement
  • Public provider governance reform
  • A role for private sector providers

Additional elements include:

  • Decentralisation
  • New funding arrangements
  • New learning technologies

5.3 TVET reform

In many countries in the global South, TVET reform is an aspiration for the future, rather than a current reality. However, many vocational education systems would benefit from such reform in developing countries. Reforming public providers and providing private providers a level playing field are at the centre of most TVET reforms. Less focus is placed on training in enterprises, which could be supported more. Evidence on enterprise-based training is limited, particularly in the informal economy. The SADC region lacks established traditional apprenticeship systems. The evidence is particularly lacking on how national TVET systems can effectively support micro and informal enterprises (McGrath et al. 2013).

Under systemic reform employers are given more power to shape policy directions, often through qualifications frameworks, quality assurance systems, outcomes-based and ‘institutionally neutral’ funding (such as voucher type systems), and managed autonomy for public providers. These approaches collectively form the global TVET toolkit. The aim is to improve the social and economic status of the poor by increasing their employability. However, this consensus has conceptual and political limitations. Using implementation in South Africa as an example, Allais (2012) describes three problems with this approach. First, policy choices remain entrenched by a narrow definition of ‘skills development’, viewing skills only as tasks, which is as a logical consequence of the notion of employer-specified competencies in an unregulated labour market. Second, an extremely complex qualifications and quality assurance system has been introduced for a small and weak provision system. Third, as skills are separated from power, social policy, the structuring of labour markets, and the organisation of occupations and jobs, they are presented as a substitute for even very modest redistribution of wealth (Allais 2012).[5]

5.4 Linking skills training to local demand

Offering training in skills that are not required is a frustrating waste of resources. The skills that are required in a community can be identified through market surveys and analysis of the local context. Local people already involved in successful businesses or service provision can in many cases become trainers, passing on their skills to others. Such people can also provide essential information on what skills are demanded (Ransom 2010).

In Ethiopia, participation in general education is increasing. Considering the number of graduates who will be entering the labour market in the next few years, the Government of Ethiopia aims to provide them with options for further education and training in order to increase their employability. A demand driven, flexible, integrated and high quality TVET system is what they are working towards. To achieve this, all stakeholders have been involved in the planning, policy making, training delivery and monitoring and evaluation of the TVET system. An aspect of this reform includes increased engagement with the private sector. However, the promotion of demand-driven TVET alone will not be sufficient to ensure quality and relevant skills training. Work must also be done to improve the qualifications and dedication of teachers through complementary policies (Kingombe 2012).

The Punjab Economic Opportunities Program (PEOP) is being implemented by the Government of Punjab with support from DfID. PEOP aims to alleviate poverty and create inclusive growth in the poorest areas by increasing the employability and earnings of poor and vulnerable families. As part of the programme, a baseline study was undertaken to inform programme design. The study found that educational attainment in the region is low and that existing job-specific skills are heavily skewed in favour of specific sectors for rural males and for females. A massive deficit was reported in core skills including numeracy and literacy. The baseline study found over 92 per cent of households nominated at least one male and female member for training, suggesting significant demand for skills from the participants. The study findings imply that training for men will need to be designed to cater to those already working. For women, the programmes must cater for those who are currently unemployed. The study identified several patterns in the labour market and opportunities for skills training (Cheema et al. date unknown).

The Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) commissions vocational training by engaging training service providers (TSPs) through a competitive bidding process. Skills for Jobs 2012 (SFJ 2012) was designed to expand publicly-subsided and accredited training provision. It was implemented between September 2012 and December 2013 and trained 18,500 individuals. A tracer study involved interviewing former trainees. The results show that SFJ 2012 successfully reduced the unemployment rate from 90 per cent to 71.7 per cent and resulted in a 195 per cent increase in employment. SFJ 2012 also succeeded in reaching out to females who had not attended trainings previously. The training also successfully increased monthly income by 22.9 per cent. The authors conclude that it is imperative to complement training schemes with assistance in job search and self-employment endeavours to further improve labour market outcomes. Appropriate systems and processes must be in place to develop links between trainees and employers. Access to microfinance will benefit trainees who want to be self-employed. The results of the study underscore the need to improve the labour force participation rate and support the case for lowering educational entry requirements for vocational courses (PSDF 2015).

In general, the public sector has been slow to respond to demand for skills. The private sector has been shown to be more responsive and able to adjust faster to changing needs. Private skills providers need to play a larger role in delivery of demand led training to those in the informal sector. The delivery of short modular courses may be well suited to those who cannot afford long spells away from their work. In the context of demand-driven skills systems, many countries, including Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Tunisia are working to establish new TVET national qualifications frameworks (NQFs). Along with occupational standards for sectors experiencing employment growth and skill shortages, NQFs seek to establish recognition for all education and training achievements within the broad perspective of lifelong learning (Kingombe 2012).

5.5 National qualifications frameworks

To improve skills capacity, relationships need to be developed between education and training systems on the one hand, and labour markets on the other. Qualifications frameworks are a useful policy tool to achieve these and other goals. NQFs are being implemented by national governments and encouraged by international organisations and bilateral agencies, despite the limited evidence of their impacts, strengths, and weaknesses. Key lessons and strategic priorities are not well documented in the literature. There has been little evidence that NQFs are achieving their goals. This is possibly due to the time lag between intervention and results, although it is more likely that NQFs have failed to deliver on skills development. In the case of the oldest low-/middle-income country – case, South Africa, it is very clear that the NQF has not achieved a skills revolution in 20 years. There is some specific evidence of qualifications frameworks failing to achieve their goals. Considerable evidence of difficulties associated with implementing qualifications frameworks is also available. Limited evidence exists to suggest that NQFs have substantially improved communication between education and training systems and labour markets. In the context of developing qualifications frameworks in several countries, most report a mismatch between educational provision and labour market needs as a major problem. A key aim of many of the qualifications frameworks is to improve employers’ understandings of what qualifications mean. NQFs ensure that employers are involved in qualifications design, thus ensuring that qualifications are of the right standard (Allais 2010).

5.6 Capacity development for education for all (CapEFA)

The CapEFA programme currently operates in 28 countries and oversees five regional initiatives. It works with national governments, technical partners, civil society and private sector actors, and employing an explicit capacity development approach. An assessment is made of the existing education sector strengths to identify the country’s ‘capacity baseline’. Support is given to country leadership in the design, implementation and monitoring of strategies for reinforcing key EFA task areas. For skills, CapEFA supports reviews of current legislation and policy. Institutional frameworks for TVET are revised in light of relevance issues and widening skills, income generation and entrepreneurship opportunities for marginalised population groups, particularly girls and women. These reviews are based on a critical understanding of each countries’ socio-economic development model, labour markets, TVET traditions, skills, strengths and the articulation of TVET with other parts of the education system (Faccini and Salzano 2011).

5.7 Women’s labour force participation

There is evidence that some developing countries have experienced increases in women’s labour force participation in a relatively short period of time. In Latin America, since the 1980s, more than 70 million women have entered the labour force. This has raised the women’s labour participation rate from 36 per cent to 43 per cent. In Colombia, the rate increased from 47 per cent in 1984 to 65 per cent in 2006. The growth has been much lower in the Middle East and North Africa, where women’s labour force participation grew by 0.17 per cent per year over the last three decades. The rapid transformation has been attributed to increases in labour force participation among married or cohabiting women with children, rather than to demographics, education or business cycles. Changes in social attitudes may have contributed to the transformation. Evidence suggests that public policies have an important role to play. A combination of targeted investments and interventions in social and physical infrastructure may boost women’s labour force participation and earnings. Policies can address the availability of services (such as lack of electricity or daycare facilities), make it easier for women to accumulate productive assets and can remove norms or regulations that imply biased or even discriminatory practices, preventing women from having equal employment opportunities. Public provision or subsidisation of child care can reduce the costs women incur at home when they engage in market work. Improvements in infrastructure services have been shown to free up women’s time spent on domestic and care work. Correcting biases in service delivery institutions, such as the workings of government land distribution and registration schemes, allows women to own and inherit assets. Active labour market policies, the promotion of networks and the removal of discriminatory regulations can make work more rewarding for women (World Bank b. 2013).

5.8 Skills development for people with disabilities

Equality of opportunity in training and work for people with disabilities should be a basic principle. Lifelong learning can provide people with disabilities in developing countries the skills they need to escape from poverty and dependence. To access relevant training, efforts are needed to extend access to quality basic education. This will provide the foundation skills needed to go on to acquire more specialised skills. Access to mainstream education is essential. Ordinary secondary schools may offer vocational education courses, assessments, career guidance and counselling. Such services may be vital for people with disabilities to make the transition from school to work (Ransom 2010).

5.9 Emerging good practice

Stronger links between the public and private sector will be developed through improving the relevance of the skills that individuals acquire. Failures in current institutional arrangements must be addressed to improve accountability. Skills training should respond to market mechanisms, with training centres having more independence in the management of curricula, the selection of students, and human resource policies. However, relying on market mechanisms might not be enough. More information should be provided to potential students about career prospects and the quality of different providers. Training centres need to be certified to do this. Training authorities require strong partnerships with employers and other stakeholders to be successful. They also need decision-making powers and have the authority to oversee (without direct involvement in) the operations of individual TVET institutions (Almeida et al. 2012).

In Africa’s least developed countries, successful entrepreneurship results from a need to survive, rather than a need to be involved in highly productive activities. Commencing new activities may not be possible without incentives and support from the state, due to the substantial fixed costs and risks involved. Well-targeted government interventions can ease the most binding constraints to productive entrepreneurship and facilitate private sector take-off (Brixiova 2010).

5.10 Impact of training and skill-building programmes

Evidence shows that the impacts of specific training and skill-building programmes have been mixed. A combination of classroom education and on-the-job training has proven to work best in the long term, especially for women and low-income youth. More evidence is needed on the impact of training programmes on quality of jobs. There is some evidence from Germany and Switzerland that unemployment may be reduced, especially among young people, by implementing a dual vocational training system. Country context and market needs must be considered when developing a dual vocational training system for a low-income country (World Bank a. 2013).

The dual system is grounded in Germanic historical socio-politico-economic evolution and is yet to be proved useful for other countries except as an ideal type. A comprehensive approach is needed whereby all stakeholders are included in the process. Funding for training must be made available and assistance with transition into the workforce provided. Efforts must be made to change the image of vocational programmes in some countries. Accreditation of programmes would make it easier for employers to recognise the training that has been completed. Employer associations could also be involved in administering final exams. Programmes that make it possible for graduates of vocational training programmes to move easily into higher education if they wish to do so are encouraged (World Bank a. 2013).

5.11 Informal workers

As many as 87 per cent of the global youth population work in the informal sector, many in vulnerable employment conditions. Informal workers are encouraged to complete training to become more productive and move to the formal economy. Apprenticeship programmes could benefit these workers by giving them access to training and to new technology. Working with the private sector to develop these programmes would also link them to market needs and reduce reliance on public sector financing (World Bank a. 2013). However, the evidence raises questions about the scope to expand apprenticeship schemes. As such schemes depend on employers, they are very limited by economic opportunities and by the state of the institutional training regime. This links back to the dual system point above. The division of wage work, farming, and self-employment differ greatly by gender and across countries. Non-wage work represents more than 80 per cent of women’s employment in sub-Saharan Africa, but less than 20 per cent in countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (World Bank b. 2013). The variance is illustrated in the figure below:

A job does not always come with a wage

Skills TG Figure 2

5.12 Skills training in the workplace

Involving employers in the design and delivery of training contributes to better outcomes for all, including the disadvantaged. Evidence shows that the engagement of employers in both formal and non-formal skills training improves the relevance of the skills offered and employment outcomes. There is some evidence to suggest that skills training in the workplace showed positive effects on employment, while classroom training tended not to have positive impacts on either employment or earnings. Training programmes that had employer sponsorship and were offered in enterprises have been shown to perform better (Adams 2011). Information failures and the lack of competition result in markets working inefficiently. Among the market institutions influencing the efficiency with which markets for skills work are those that provide information about jobs and skills in growing demand, the skill competencies required by different jobs, where and how the skills can be acquired, and the quality of skills produced by different suppliers. The institutions meeting the demand include those producing labour market information, career counselling, occupational standards setting, skills testing and certification, accreditation of providers, and qualification frameworks that provide recognition of past learning and assess the equivalency of learning acquired from different sources (Adams 2011).

5.13 Access to TVET

Evidence shows that skills programmes and other support services have been successful in improving employment outcomes for disadvantaged youths. In particular, vocational education and training can help widen the opportunities for young women. Research has shown that women are reluctant to enrol in courses where employment is traditionally male-dominated, and when they do, they often face discrimination in the labour market. Anti-discrimination measures and other demand side actions are likely to encourage women to enter non-traditional fields of study. In newer occupational specialisations such as information technology, gender-specific patterns may not have yet formed. In such cases, access to technical and vocational skills for young women can make a difference to their employment opportunities (Adams 2011).

5.14 Skills in the BRICS

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) want to diversify their economic base and reduce their dependence on exporting raw materials, produce higher value-added goods and services, facilitate the creation of new economic activities, and foster innovation. To generate the educated and trained labour force this requires, they must:

  • Improve the quality and relevance of TVET.
  • Integrate inactive and unemployed youth into the world of work.
  • Raise skills levels in the working-age population to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

Future economic growth and social cohesion depends on improving skills levels of a population that is either ageing or still increasing rapidly. Large numbers of youth and adults who live in BRICS need opportunities to acquire foundation skills. Brazil, China and South Africa have almost reached universal literacy among youth aged 15-24, but have high adult illiteracy, particularly in rural areas. India’s youth illiteracy rate has been declining rapidly, and measures to universalise basic education and improve quality should ensure this progress continues. India must continue its literacy campaigns for the next few decades, and include literacy and numeracy modules in its skills development programmes, if it is to significantly reduce the high percentage of youth and adults without basic literacy skills. TVET development differs markedly across BRICS countries. A lack of data makes international comparisons difficult. To progress, BRICS need to develop systems for data collection and analysis to assess skills levels in their populations, identify skills shortages, gaps and mismatches, and forecast future skills needs (UNESCO 2014).

5.15 Other country examples

Ethiopia

In the Developing Entrepreneurship among Women with Disabilities (DEWD) programme, women played a central role in gathering information on the business aspirations of women with disabilities and women having a dependent with a disability. Business constraints and case studies were also recorded. Market surveys were conducted to identify new opportunities. Following this initial analysis, 20 women were trained to be trainers and a further 450 women were trained in basic business skills. Following the training, some of the women were given loans to implement their business plans through local microfinance institutions. The DEWD programme provided poor women with disabilities with business skills and assisted them to develop business activities (Ransom 2010).

Somalia

The Somali Youth Livelihoods Program (SYLP) – known locally as Shaqodoon (Somali for ―jobseeker) successfully established systems that bridged supply and demand with necessary support to young people and employers. The programme provided Somali youth with greater opportunities to access work opportunities. The programme was found to be successful in providing internships or paid job placements in the private and public sectors for 87 per cent of the 9,280 youth who completed the training and placement component – exceeding targets. Youth, parents, business owners, and government authorities considered the training effective and the placement opportunities beneficial for youth’s long-term employment prospects. Lessons from the programme include the importance of strengthening the capacities of the regional ministries of education to meet their role of leading the overall coordination of TVET sector activities. Priorities and capacity issues must be reviewed. External technical advice may be required. Programme staff and government authorities should jointly agree on monitoring mechanisms and useful indicators. It is advisable that systematic and ongoing research about market needs and trends (formal and non-formal) is carried. Funding must be allocated to pay for it. The relevant government departments must support more effective skills training and market and entrepreneurial development (Cook and Younis 2012).

Côte d’Ivoire

There are six ministries in charge of TVET in Côte d’Ivoire:

  1. The Ministry of Culture and Francophonie (MCF)
  2. The Ministry of National Education (MEN)
  3. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS)
  4. The Ministry of Vocational Education and Professional Training (METFP)
  5. The Ministry for Families, Women and Social Affairs (MFFAS)
  6. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and Urban Health (MJSSU).

CapEFA has been working with stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire to identifying what can be done to remedy the fragmentation of TVET in the country. Despite political instability, the government succeeded in establishing a coordination committee composed of 16 members from the six responsible ministries (Faccini and Salzano 2011).

Afghanistan

CapEFA has been working in Afghanistan to strengthen the TVET Working Group (WG) which is the official forum in the country under the Human Resource Development Board. It is chaired by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD). The purpose of the group is to coordinate joint activities towards the establishment of a modern TVET system in Afghanistan according to overarching national strategies, aligning the programmes with the sector and improving coordination among key donors and the Government of Afghanistan. The group’s core functions include policy recommendations, technical advice, strategic alignment, coordination and resource mobilisation (Faccini and Salzano 2011).

DfID programme case study

The Helmand Growth Programme was funded by DfID between 2010 and 2014. The total programme spend was £16.6 million. The aim was to increase the potential for licit economic growth in selected districts of central Helmand. It was planned to achieve this by improving the job prospects and skills base of Helmand’s youth. In addition the programme would improve market linkages for the agricultural private sector and improve the business community’s capacity to support emerging businesses and potential investment in the province. Skills development for businesses would also be improved. When it closed, the programme activity included the following:

  • Improved employment status or successful self-employment due to market-based skills training.
  • Greater productivity through better business skills and more competitive industry clusters.
  • Increased access to training and improved market linkages for farmers and agri-businesses.
  • Increased potential for licit economic growth and improved livelihoods by continuing to provide development assistance in Helmand beyond the life of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)
  • Private sector actors organised into an association or chamber of commerce based on a sustainable business model.
  • Technical support to implement improvements in surrounding economic infrastructure (road, canals and irrigation, and power).

 Through these activities, the programme achieved the following results:

  • 21,038 people trained through the INVEST project including 6,235 women.
  • 14,601 of people trained through the INVEST programme found full-time employment.
  • Over 400 farmers report increased incomes as a result of improved market linkages.
  • 26 per cent increase in yield in per hectare for participating farmers.
  • Systems developed for the rapid design and commission of key infrastructure programmes adapted to fluid and complex operating environments such as Helmand Province.

Now the programme has ended, it is clear that sustainability was not built sufficiently into the design or implementation. Future programmes should incorporate sustainability from inception or make it more explicit in programme design. Also, planning to ensure transition and maintenance of infrastructure investments needs to be in place prior to implementation or at least 12 – 18 months prior to cessation of donor funding. Another lesson learned is that the buy-in of key stakeholders in government, the private sector and civil society needs to be secured at design level, or at least, early in implementation. A detailed political economy analysis should also be a critical component of programme design, implementation and risk management.

Rwanda

The Ministry of Education in Rwanda aims to improve access to and quality of upper secondary schools, teacher training colleges, higher learning institutions (HLIs), and demand-driven TVET courses to supply the demand for the higher-level skills and competencies relevant to labour market needs. In 2010, the government announced that all students would be entitled to free education until the end of upper secondary school (or equivalent). Following the introduction of this policy, access to fee-free education beyond lower secondary is being phased in, starting in 2012. As of 2011, 144,695 students (of which 49 per cent were girls) were enrolled in upper secondary education, including technical secondary schools (55,033 students). An additional 11,315 students were enrolled in vocational training centers (VTCs), and 73,674 students were enrolled in higher learning institutions, of which 43 per cent were female. Curriculum development has also been improved. Some private sector partnerships have been developed to promote catalytic skill capacity and expand practice-based learning. The aim is to ensure that what training institutions offer is more closely aligned with labour market demands. The 12 Year Education Policy is a key element for national economic growth and job creation. Capacity development, financing mechanisms, infrastructure, equipment, teachers, and trainers will need to be increased to implement the policy. This implementation will be led by the Workforce Development Agency (World Bank d. 2013).

Pakistan

The Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA) works to implement skills development programmes in the province. To expand access to skills development opportunities, the government has devised and started implementing a major youth training programme called Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program – BBSYDP. The BBSYDP has a major role in the skills acquisition strategy of the government. It is aimed at providing employment oriented skills training to 100,000 people in Sindh. The programme is being implemented through STEVTA technical institutions, training facilities in over 10 governmental departments as well as the private sector. The training courses offered last between 3 months and a year. Since its establishment, STEVTA is playing a pivotal role in bringing all the stakeholders together to reorient, reform, and deliver technical education in Sindh (World Bank 2010).

DfID programme case study

The Pakistan Skills Development Programme (SDP) will receive £89.5 million from DfID. It started in July 2015 and aims to increase access to jobs/income earning opportunities for poor and vulnerable people. The main programme activities will be financial support to the Government of Punjab for training through the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF), increasing the sustainability of the PSDF, assisting with legal, regulatory and structural reforms of the skills sector and delivering technical assistance to design a challenge fund-type facility to support innovative partnerships for skill delivery.

Businesses in Pakistan are declining in competitiveness. This is in part due to low labour productivity. Existing skills training programmes fail to take into account the different socio-economic contexts and learning needs of different segments of the population. The current skills sector is inadequate to support required growth. Existing trainings are of poor quality and lack relevance to market needs. Existing registered training capacity is only 24 per cent of what is needed. Most poor acquire training informally. Over 85 per cent of the public resources are channelled through public sector skill providers. Evidence indicates that the private sector could deliver skills training in a more effective way. The private sector lacks incentives to invest in skill training as returns on investment are low. PSDF’s experience indicates that further support is needed to build the capacity of the skill providers to deliver better quality.

Liberia

Liberia’s civil war, which came to an end in 2003, was hugely destructive, displacing the majority of Liberia’s 3 million inhabitants, halting economic activity, deepening poverty, and depriving a generation of basic education. In the post war era, the bulk of Liberia’s youth remain poor and underemployed. Despite the security situation improving, rural youth continue to make their living through unlawful activities, including unlicensed mining, rubber tapping, or logging. Many remain involved with armed groups. The government, the UN, and NGOs fear that these youth are a possible source of instability. Agriculture is regarded as a major source of employment and income for rural Liberians. Landmine Action (LMA – now known as Action on Armed Violence) runs an intensive, best practices agricultural training programme, targeting ex-combatants and other high-risk youth in rural hot spots. Ex-combatants are recruited and offered several months of skills training and psychosocial counselling, along with a start-up package, to give youth a peaceful, sustainable, and legal alternative to illicit resource extraction, ease their reintegration into society, reduce the risk of their re-recruitment into crime and insurrection in the future, and to improve security in hotspot communities. The programme had a large and significant impact on agriculture. More than a year after the completion of the programme, programme participants were at least a quarter more likely than the control group to be engaged in agriculture, and 37 per cent more likely to have sold crops. A high level of interest in agriculture among these rural youth was recorded in both those who received the programme and those who did not. Participation rates in illicit activities rates remained unchanged, but participation levels dropped. Prior to the programme, in 2009, 44 per cent of youth were engaged in illicit activities, falling to 42 per cent two years later (in both the treatment and control group). A qualitative study of the programme impact suggests that access to markets may have been an important constraint on success. To be most effective, agricultural training programmes need to stress to trainees the need for proximity to markets, and encourage graduates to settle closer to major markets both for inputs and produce. Skills training must link graduates to concession owners and agribusiness as employees, including through placement schemes in commercial farms or plantations (Blattman and Annan 2011).

5.16 Skills in the SADC region

There is widespread and genuine commitment to improve TVET systems within the SADC region. Progress has been made in this area, but the absence of strong independent evidence on the impact of specific reforms prevents a better understanding of best practices. The countries of southern Africa vary hugely in terms of size, both of their overall populations and their TVET systems. McGrath et al. (2013) details the current policy position of TVET in 13 countries:

1. Botswana

Botswanan TVET was reformed substantially in the 1990s with the establishments of the Tertiary Education Council (TEC) in the 1994 Revised National Policy on Education and the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) under the Vocational Training Act of 1998. These two bodies responsible for vocational education and skills development have similar mandates but partly operate at different levels of the system and have two different target audiences. Concerns about this policy incoherence led to the National Human Resources Development Strategy of 2009, which sought explicitly to bridge the divide between education and training, and sector-based, labour-market orientated planning. This led, in particular, to the decision to establish a National Human Resources Council under the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, funded by the European Union (EU), which will absorb the functions of BOTA and TEC.

2. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Technical education and vocational training in DRC is managed by six ministries, hence the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Technical Education and Vocational Training in 2006 to bring about synergy and regulation of TVET. The Inter-Ministerial Commission has, as specific objectives, an institutional framework for TVET; curricula and programmes to enhance employability; ongoing advocacy for TVET; and the mobilisation of resources for TVET. Vocational training is seen as an integral part of general education, which provides access to work and to further training.

 3. Lesotho

Lesotho’s TVET policy still follows the 1984 Act. Although a new policy was developed with World Bank support in 2004, this remains in draft form and it is unclear when, indeed if, it will be implemented. The Ministry of Education works, therefore, from the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) 2005-2015, which has specific TVET goals regarding access and equity in technical and vocational training; quality; relevance; the reduction of HIV/AIDS; and partnerships. Without a final policy in place, these goals, as well as a TVET vision advocating new governance arrangements, funding, provision, qualifications, quality assurance and traineeships, are compromised.

4. Malawi

Malawi embarked on a major reform of its TVET policies in the late 1990s, culminating in the TVET Act of 1999, which established the Technical Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA). The inclusion of ‘entrepreneurial’ in the agency’s name was driven by the realisation that Malawi needed to do more to support self-employment and the informal economy, and that skills development was an important component of this. The goal of the TEVETA 2007-2012 Strategic Plan was to drive the TVET sector towards adequate and sustainable generation of an internationally competitive and skilled workforce capable of spearheading the country’s production and socio-economic growth in a socially responsible manner. The current guiding policy for the education sector in Malawi is the National Education Sector Plan (NESP) 2007-2017, although recent policy support work has been done by UNESCO. A notable strategy is the attempt to reintroduce TVET in some 24 model primary and 12 secondary schools that have technical and vocational wings, and the construction of five TVET wings in teacher training colleges.

5. Mauritius

The Mauritius Institute of Training and Development (MITD) was set up in November 2009 under the MITD Act through the merger of the Industrial and Vocational Training Board (IVTB) and as part of the Technical School Management Trust Fund. The MITD is responsible for the public TVET delivery system and has also been entrusted the awarding function for all local TVET qualifications. The MITD has as specific objectives achieving excellence in technical and vocational education and training; promoting research and knowledge; increased access to vocational education through the setting up of training centres; exchange of programmes and courses with other institutions of technology; and the apprenticeship of persons who are, or will be, employed in commercial, technical and vocational fields. Earlier reforms had led to the establishment of the Mauritius Qualifications Authority in 2001. The Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan (EHRSP) 2008-2020 underlines the importance of the quality of the workforce for sustaining economic and social development in Mauritius. Equally, the Government Programme 2005/2010 sets out clear objectives for TVET, including the establishment of new polytechnics specialising in areas of potential economic growth; a levy-grant scheme; and a review of the current training system to give new direction to TVET.

6. Mozambique

The 2001 Strategy for Technical and Professional Education in Mozambique 2002-2011 stated the goals of training more technicians, creating new jobs and improving training quality through competence-based technical and professional training with the participation of public and private sectors, and the creation of a qualifications framework. Moreover, the Public Sector Reform Strategy 2002-2011 promised the improvement of the quality of training institutions; the implementation of curriculum reform through modular courses addressing rural development; and the introduction of a qualifications system for professional skills from basic to higher levels. Three levels of TVET (elementary, basic and middle) are being developed for the technical training of school-age young people to prepare them for a vocational specialism.

7. Namibia

Namibia was an early introducer of a national qualifications authority in 1996 as part of a first wave of post-independence reforms that included the establishment of a Vocational Training Board. The most recent policies and legislation have been the Vocational Education and Training Policy of 2005 and the Vocational Education and Training Act of 2008. This Act established the Namibia Training Authority, which is responsible for regulation of TVET. There is a drive towards giving public providers more autonomy and to establish a registration and accreditation system that includes private providers.

8. Seychelles

Policy formulation and development on TVET in Seychelles has been undertaken in a variety of forms and by different sectors or sub-sectors, for instance by the Department of Education as part of its mandate for education and training and by the National Human Resources Development Council (NHRDC) as part of its mandate for human resources development. However, there is no integrated policy framework even though the need for such was articulated by the then Minister of Education in 2006. A draft Policy Framework on Technical and Vocational Education and Training was developed that year but has not been finalised. The process is also compromised by significant blockages linked with management/resource capacity at sector and/or sub-sector level related to policy formulation and development. The need for coherence and coordination is seen as crucial. A Seychelles Qualifications Agency was established in 2005. A Tertiary Education Bill, envisaged for 2011, will legally define TVET in the tertiary sector.

9. South Africa

South Africa has had a raft of legislation affecting TVET since 1994. One of the first Acts of the new government established the South African Qualifications Authority in 1995. In spite of its overarching vision, the departments of education and labour largely proceeded with parallel policy developments. The Further Education and Training (FET) Act of 1998 led to the reorganisation of 152 apartheid-era public technical colleges into 50 multi-site FET colleges and set out broad and long-term intentions for curricula transformation, learning and teaching, funding, quality assurance and institutional arrangements. The emphasis of the second FET Colleges Act of 2006 was on increased college autonomy illustrated largely by new staffing arrangements. A new curriculum policy framework was gazetted in 2006 ushering in a suite of FET National Certificates (Vocational) (NCV) as the official curricula for college learners. The National Plan of 2008 aimed to increase the number of college learners from around 400,000 in 2002 to 1 million by 2014. Colleges were recapitalised by the government in order to modernise and improve facilities, but the participation target was adjusted in 2010 to 650,000 learners. The Skills Development Act of 1998 established a parallel set of industry qualifications, called learnerships, as well as a National Skills Authority to advise the Minister of Labour, a set of Sector Education and Training Authorities and a National Skills Fund, underpinned by a new levy-grant system. In 2001, a Human Resources Development (HRD) Strategy was introduced to strengthen articulation between the two departments but major concerns remained regarding policy coherence. This has been addressed by a new HRD Strategy and a reform of the NQF architecture that has seen the establishment of a new Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), mirroring existing structures for general and further education and for higher education. Perhaps most significantly, the second wave of reforms resulted in a new Department of Higher Education and Training being established in 2009. This is leading to a further wave of reforms that are still being developed.

10. Swaziland

The key TVET legislation in Swaziland is the Vocational and Industrial Training Act (VITA) 1982, supplemented at the policy level by the National Education Commission Review in 1985. However, a new Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development (TVETSD) policy was implemented in 2010 with support from the World Bank. This has a vision of developing a quality, relevant, sustainable TVETSD system, including an NQF. Since this policy is in a very early implementation stage there is as yet no information on progress.

11. United Republic of Tanzania

Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar have different TVET policies, legislation, systems of national governance, quality assurance agencies and levels of development. Therefore, these two entities are dealt with separately.

  • Tanzania Mainland – Tanzania has two separate vocational systems under different government ministries: Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Technical Education and Training (TET). VET is governed by the Vocational Education and Training Act of 1994, which covers training leading to a skilled occupation. TET is governed by the National Council for Technical Education Act of 1997, which covers tertiary education obtained in a non-university institution and refers to education and training undertaken to equip learners with higher levels of skill, knowledge and understanding and enable them to take responsibility for an area of specialisation. There are draft policy plans to reorganise the two components into a single system.
  • Zanzibar – VET in Zanzibar is governed by the Zanzibar Vocational Education and Training Policy of 2005 and the Vocational Training Act of 2006, which was amended by the Vocational Training (Amendment) Act in 2007. This legislation established the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) to supervise vocational training in Zanzibar by determining standards of training, assessing training centres, and by evaluating and approving the capacity and skills of trainers and trainees.

12. Zambia

In 1996, Zambia reformed its TVET system and established the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA). During the period 2001 to 2007, Zambia, with the support of international cooperation partners, implemented the TEVET Development Programme (TDP). The TDP was created to act as a vehicle for the implementation of various interventions aimed at improving major components of TEVET reforms, including responsiveness to the demands of both the formal and informal sectors of the economy; improvement in the quality of training; greater equity (gender, disability and vulnerability) in the delivery of training; and mechanisms for ensuring the financial sustainability of the training system. However, implementation has been constrained due to an inadequate supply of mid-level management skills to administer the system.

13. Zimbabwe

A systematic reform of the post-independence TVET policy in Zimbabwe has not yet taken place. However, a number of reform initiatives are noteworthy. In 2005, the Higher Education Examinations Council was established with responsibility for TVET programmes in polytechnics, to sit alongside the Apprenticeship Authority, which is responsible for lower-level TVET qualifications. A policy review of 2006 stressed the need for an overall human resources development strategy and this was followed by a draft skills policy in 2010. A qualifications framework and authority have been proposed but not yet implemented.

5.17 Quality of evidence

Evidence on existing systems for skills training feature an extensive series of country-specific examples at policy and project level, drawn from a small number of high-quality systematic reviews published by UNESCO and World Bank. The cases cover a broad range of geo-political contexts. Further evidence includes similar, though less extensive, reviews of inclusive initiatives targeting skills training for the disabled, women and girls, and youth. In all cases, the evidence is of good quality, and is transparent in acknowledging gaps in evidence or cases of systemic failure or underachievement.

 

[5] In a DfID context, a key issue is the lack of an adequate political economy analysis/theory of change underpinning proposed reforms. Reflecting on the critique in Allais (2012), the reforms assume that the developmental capacity of the implementing country is far higher than it will be and that there is a political consensus that will support the reforms – the latter is a replaying in less overtly Marxist language of much of her analysis. Simon McGrath, expert advisor.

Key messages: 

  • General training increases worker productivity, translating to higher earnings in a competitive labour market. It makes workers more employable. This may act as a disincentive for firms to pay for general training, preferring to pay for specific training.
  • Productivity leads to higher earnings and more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. Earnings and employment challenges reflect the broader challenges and opportunities of a globalised world.
  • Cognitive and socio-emotional skills must be developed in early childhood and during basic and secondary schooling. Acquiring these skills is an important determinant of employment dynamics and subsequent earnings later in life.
  • Injections of capital (in the form of start-up grants, cash infusions and capital transfers, among others) stimulate self-employment and raise long term earning potential.
  • Programmes that involve participatory methods of learning, technology development, and dissemination have greater success. In particular, these approaches can build women’s skills.
  • Foundational skills facilitate further learning. The basic school system must be effective to allow for acquisition of skills later on.

6.1 The impact of training on productivity and earnings

General training is understood to increases a worker’s productivity and make them more employable, translating to higher earnings in a competitive labour market. It would therefore make sense for firms to only pay for specific training, rather than general training. However, in their classic theoretical account of the economics of enterprise-based training, Acemoglu and Pischke (1998) offer a theory of training whereby employers pay for general training.[6] For firms to invest in general skills provision, market imperfections must exist. Workers may not be willing to pay for general skills themselves, as at least part of the return will go to the firms that they work for. Filmer and Fox (2014) argue that productivity is the key to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. The challenge that young people face in terms of earnings and employment reflects the broader challenges and opportunities of countries themselves in a globalised world. The key employment issue is that productivity. Earnings are low and aspirations are higher than they have ever been. Despite some progress being made, most young people in Africa will not have an easy or structured path to a sustainable livelihood. Filmer and Fox (2014) call on all stakeholders, including governments, private firms, private and nongovernmental training providers, and young people themselves, to fulfil their role of contributing to this transition.

The lack of evidence on the impact of TVET programmes on labour market outcomes make it hard to draw conclusions about what works. Returns on investment in TVET vary widely across systems and over time. There is some evidence from OECD countries that the employability of students graduating from TVET and from general tracks are similar but students graduating from general tracks tend to earn higher wages. It is challenging to isolate the effect of TVET, as student characteristics influence path selection and level of earnings. Students entering TVET programmes typically have lower test scores and may have less family support than their peers in the general track. Available survey data on the impact of TVET on labour market outcomes in developing countries are mixed and inconclusive. Returns to pre-employment TVET have been shown to be positive, but are not consistently greater or worse than those associated with general education (Sanchez Puerta et al. 2015).

A review of programmes designed to raise incomes of the world’s poor found that skills training and microfinance programmes have made little impact on poverty or stability. The most effective programmes to stimulate self-employment and raise long term earning potential appear to be injections of capital. Evidence suggests that start up grants, cash infusions, in kind capital transfers and other ‘hand-outs’ have a good record of increasing earning potential (Blattman and Ralston 2015). Evidence from European countries indicates that TVET has a positive and significant effect on the economic performance of firms. The effects of different types of training on productivity is unknown. A clear relationship between size of investment and size of the effect on productivity is hard to establish. Evidence from non-OECD countries indicates a positive significant effect of training for skilled workers, and no effect for unskilled workers. This is of concern, as many people in low-income settings have received a substandard initial education, and therefore may receive less benefit from further training than compatriots with better initial education (Cedefop 2011).

6.2 Pathways to productivity

Filmer and Fox (2014) provide detail on the two pathways to productive work:

  • Human capital—the supply side, meaning the abilities, education, skills, family connections, networks, and other characteristics that are embedded in an individual and allow that person to find opportunities to be productive, increase earnings, and achieve income security
  • Business environment—the factors outside the worker’s immediate control that affect productivity (access to land, capital, and finance; infrastructure; technology; and markets), as well as the government policies, regulations, and programmes that may affect the choice of economic activity and how the activity is conducted.

6.3 Skills in the agricultural sector

Developing countries face many challenges in the provision of job-relevant TVET, including offering quality programmes, a lack of industry experienced instructors, few industry partnerships, and lack of adequate resources to offer access to high quality workshops and equipment. In these contexts there is often limited training provision to promote productive employment in the agricultural and informal sectors (Sanchez Puerta et al. 2015). In the agriculture sector, farmers often learn from their neighbours. More educated farmers are more likely to adopt new technologies. To be productive as a farmer, specific skills are required, built on a foundation provided by basic education. Skills, such as processing, marketing, machinery operation and repair, transport, logistics, and quality control can be developed. In some countries, agricultural vocational training institutes traditionally have provided these skills. These institutes have a mixed track record, mostly owing to the disconnect between academic, lecture style teaching and the need for on-the-ground, practical training. Agricultural extension programmes have a disappointing history in Africa, mainly because of poor incentives and accountability. Evidence suggests that programmes that empower farmers by giving them a choice of providers and services from among a range of public, private, and non-governmental agencies are more successful. Research has shown that programmes that involve participatory methods of learning, technology development, and dissemination have greater success. In particular these approaches can build women’s skills. Business incubators and rural alliances that create relationships between commercial buyers and producer organisations can boost agricultural incomes. In addition, communication technology can benefit, and benefit from, the participation of young people (Filmer and Fox 2014).

6.4 Skills and schooling

As with the agricultural sector, an important step towards productivity in other sectors is to get basic schooling right. Foundational skills facilitate further learning (Filmer and Fox 2014). A good basic education and cognitive development is important for future skills development. Any strategy aimed at increasing and improving skills capacity must create the conditions for adequate early childhood development, laying a strong foundation in basic and secondary education, and improving tertiary education (Sanchez Puerta et al. 2015). In low-income contexts, the majority of the labour force has very low levels of education. Even the minority of people who have degrees may not have acquired the skills necessary to succeed in the labour market. In particular, analytical and interactive skills may be missing. Employers frequently complain that workers’ lack the required skills for their business. This skills mismatch appears pervasive across countries. Adequate primary and secondary schooling is necessary to develop cognitive and socio-emotional skills that are needed for employment and productivity in adult life (Sanchez Puerta et al. 2015). TVET outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa have been disappointing. Evidence has shown that secondary and post-secondary vocational training can cost three times more than basic secondary education, yet often provides no better foundation for private sector jobs. To be successful, training must be geared toward labour market demand. In the higher education sector, policies and curriculums must be geared toward private demand to ensure maximum employment of university graduates. Financing in public universities should include a private component to improve equity in access, as tuition payments become means-tested rather than free for all. Also, those who pay will demand value for money (Filmer and Fox 2014).

6.5 Government support for TVET

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa need to focus on support for public goods in TVET such as quality assurance and information. Access to training for poor and disadvantaged youths should also be a focus. Governments may need to provide financial support for training in either the public or the private sector. Governments support for training should aim to emphasise portable skills rather than the firm- or job-specific skills that employers should already have an incentive to provide. Results from programmes for disadvantaged youth that integrate training with internships indicate some success. Poor management practices in the private sector suggest considerable scope for improving productivity by investing in business and management skills training and perhaps even in individualised management consulting. The evidence for such programmes is mixed but promising (Filmer and Fox 2014).

6.6 Skills in rural areas

Evidence suggests that the education levels of working youth are consistently lower in rural areas (Elder et al. 2015). Youths in rural areas can increase their productivity with more and better schooling. Higher productivity increases demand for schooling, triggering a virtuous cycle (Filmer and Fox 2014). In low-income contexts, more young professionals in urban areas are better matched to their jobs than in rural areas. In low-income countries there is also a larger differential in the average education levels of youth working in rural and urban areas compared to the middle-income countries. Skills are central to improving employability and livelihood opportunities, reducing poverty, enhancing productivity and promoting environmentally sustainable development. Skills shortages halt the productive and sustainable transformations of rural areas. Rural disadvantages in education limit scope for employment among those youth remaining in rural areas who did manage to complete their education (Elder et al. 2015).

6.7 Country examples

Ghana

In Ghana, a national skills development strategy is in preparation under the auspices of the Council for TVET (COTVET). For the strategy to be successful, Darvas and Palmer (2014) recommend it is:

  • Responsive to the challenges stemming from social demand (employment, equity)
  • Relevant to the private sector and labour market demand
  • Informed by market and nonmarket failures
  • Harmonised with the national economic development priorities (diversification, shared sustainable growth)
  • Effective in terms of incentivising the training providers to align with these expectations

The strategy should aim to complement, and be complemented by, related reforms in other sectors, such as the private sector, the informal economy, information and communication technologies, and agriculture. It must ensure that TVET stakeholders can coordinate, implement and monitor the development of policies to stimulate both demand and supply. COTVET must coordinate across sectors, government agencies, and various types of providers. Standards for training services and a qualification framework must be developed (Darvas and Palmer 2014). Training providers will benefit from a needs-assessment and rationalisation process. This will help to establish what support is needed and what incentives may be required to facilitate the change to a demand-driven approach. The rationalisation process would likely result in the institutions being more specialised. Courses that are not in demand may be stopped. Success will demand TVET institutes have sufficient autonomy and incentives to (re)connect with industry requirements. This process of decentralisation will bring training supply closer to market needs (Darvas and Palmer 2014).

Targeted scholarship schemes could promote access to TVET, especially for the poor, and for women, who could be enabled to enter trades that traditionally do not employ females. Improving junior high school (JHS) level education will help to make access to post-JHS TVET programmes more equitable. Reducing direct and opportunity costs of training will also help. The government should be less directly involved in training provision by taking more of a coordination role. It will need to provide incentives, standards, accreditation, quality assurance, and information. Any qualification system should be independent of government control, since the government cannot be expected to provide objective judgment over a service that it provides. The national qualification system will be more effective if focused on training and skills that help people get jobs and improve earnings, enterprise growth, and productivity. The qualification framework should be developed in sync with the competency-based training system that is being gradually introduced in Ghana (Darvas and Palmer 2014).

TVET financing will be more effective if funding is based on results and performance. Planners need to keep in mind that public funding can distort the training market or lead to market failures. Financing and incentive systems can be used to promote demand-driven training, to reward quality and productivity, and to promote equality and breaking out of a low-skills equilibrium. Incentives may help to improve the performance of trainee and instructor industry attachments and to encourage industry associations to provide employment (Darvas and Palmer, 2014). Information systems can be utilised to assist with monitoring and evaluation. On the demand side, more (disaggregated) wage data need to be collected to reveal what the market is demanding in terms of skills. Effective data collection instruments that go beyond inputs, such as student numbers, would help. Data on outputs (such as the number that graduate) and outcomes (such as the proportion of graduates that find work) would be helpful to inform planning. Key stakeholders’ capacities require strengthening, including at the institutional and district levels and within informal trade associations. The capacity of Ghanaian institutions, governmental and non-governmental, to conduct TVET research needs to be strengthened. Further research into the political economy of the TVET reform process is needed (Darvas and Palmer 2014).

Ethiopia

Research in Ethiopia took nearly 1,000 unemployed and underemployed applicants and offered them low skilled jobs in five industrial firms. A lottery system was used to allocate the jobs and randomly offer cash and training to half of the unsuccessful job applications. The results indicate that most people quit the permanent industrial jobs within a few weeks as the work was unpleasant and risky. A year later, the people offered jobs were no better off economically than their peers in the control group. However, their health was worse. The cash and training group reported being happier, having started businesses and increasing their wages by a third (Blattman and Ralston 2015).

Liberia

The Adolescent Girls Initiative in Liberia provided young women with six months of skills training followed by six months of active placement. Six months after the classroom sessions, women’s earnings were about $8 per week greater than the control group. Earnings were higher among women trained for self-employment rather than job skills (Blattman and Ralston 2015).

Uganda

Blattman and Ralston (2015) describe two programmes in Uganda – WINGS and the Youth Opportunities Program (YOP). The WINGS programme in Uganda targeted 15 ultra-poor households in small war affected villages. Most participants were women. A not for profit organisation offered them five days of business skills training, $150 in cash, as well as encouragement and support to become petty traders. Evidence suggests that those who started small trading enterprises nearly doubled their earnings. Household consumption increased by a third to $39 per month. For the YOP, the Ugandan government invited men and women from 18 to 35 years old to form groups and prepare proposals for vocational training and enterprise development. The groups received grants of $8,000, equating to $400 per person. Evidence indicates that, four years later, the wages of members of the groups who had received grants had increased by 40 per cent and hours of work were up 20 per cent (Blattman and Ralston 2015).

6.8 Quality of evidence

Evidence on skills training for employment and higher earnings is based on a medium number of documents from a range of sources, and is of mixed quality. For example, Filmer and Fox (2014), Elder et al. (2015) and Cedefop (2011) present discussion and/or analysis drawing on substantial data sets, and Tripney et al. (2013) present a systematic review based on a detailed methodology and drawing on a broad spread of countries. Darvas and Palmer (2014) present discussion around a specific country-based context. Sanchez Puerta et al. (2015) present a briefing note with no examples or case studies, and no supporting bibliography. Acemoglu and Pischke (1998) is a peer-reviewed paper published by MIT, but dating from 1998.

 

[6] Although focused primarily on the USA and other advanced economies, Acemoglu and Autor (2011) offer a further insight into the impact of training on productivity and earnings in their chapter titled Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings, from the Handbook of Labor Economics, Volume 4b, Elsevier (http://economics.mit.edu/files/7006).

Key messages: 

  • There is less support for TVET compared to other education sectors. Commitments and will to fund TVET is much weaker than efforts to fund schooling or higher education. New and innovative ways must be identified to mobilise financial support for TVET.
  • There is a need for a radical shift in skills development to respond to the increasing demand for training opportunities with greater private sector involvement, better coordination, effective use of new technology and the media, and interventions with a sectoral focus.
  • Private training providers have a role to play in skills development if the quality can be assured. The demanded skills training cannot be solely provided by the public sector. Alternative sources, including from the private sector, must be found and co-ordinated.
  • Private financing of skills development is linked to the expected return in that investment and to greater involvement by those financers in its development.
  • There is a considerable knowledge gap regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of specific policy instruments to promote employer-provided training for employees. More research is needed.
  • Education and training systems must be integrated into national skills strategies. This will ensure that, on completion of training, the economy can absorb the skilled workforce.

7.1 Financing TVE and TVET

Globally, commitments and will to fund TVET is much weaker than efforts to fund schooling or higher education. No fast track initiative exists to fund TVET. There has been neglect and conceptual confusion of EFA Goal 3, which is to ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes. The perceived difficulty of engaging in this area has led to frustration with attempts to finance TVET. TVET has risen much higher up the agendas of both developing country and donor governments, largely as a response to the youth bulge described in the introduction. Despite this, there has not been a significant shift in funding. There is pressure on both donor and developing country budgets. New  and innovative ways must be identified to mobilise financial support for TVET. Many developing country governments treat the financing of public TVET as they do academic schooling by using an input driven approach. Institutions receive budgetary allocations related to the number of instructors, number of trainees, previous year’s budget etc. The allocations remain the same whether the institution is performing well or not, with no link to efficiency, attainment of minimum training standards, outputs, or outcomes. This encourages a culture of apathy since there are no incentives, or disincentives, for performing well or badly. Data on financing for TVET follows the bias towards Ministry of Education data, and the bias towards supply side data. Public expenditure on TVET should not only include data from ministries of education. Aggregated data from other public ministries responsible for TVET should be included. Estimates of private financing of TVET – both private formal providers, and enterprise based training, formal and informal – should be included (King 2011).

7.2 Private financing of skills development

A synthesis paper on the role of the private sector in skills development argues that a radical shift in skills development is both needed and is beginning to take place. To succeed, this shift must respond to the increasing demand for training opportunities with greater private sector involvement, better coordination, effective use of new technology and the media, and interventions with a sectoral focus. Private sector intervention will generally not happen without facilitation by another party, whether it be government, donor or non-government organisation. Employers are more likely to engage in skills development if the benefits of doing so are apparent, the business environment is favourable and there is minimal bureaucracy attached (Dunbar 2013). Private training providers have a role to play in skills development if the quality can be assured. More private finance is needed in the developing world to fund skills development. Governments cannot and will not provide all the funds for training. Alternative sources must be found and co-ordinated. The greatest challenges to skills development, including the funding issue, are found in countries with unstable governments and low-growth or stagnant economies and in remote agrarian communities with little industry. The private sector may be able to support learners financially while they are non-productive or partially productive (Dunbar 2013).

Dunbar (2013) offers the following analysis of the emerging policy consensus on financing training:

Role of training finance in meeting policy objective Explanation
1 Redefined government role Redefinition of government role (diminished, but still critical), entailing reduced public budgetary support for formal sector institutional training.
2 Funding diversification Diminished government financing role is to be accompanied by a diversification of sources of financing, greater cost recovery and cost sharing.
3 Cost sharing Moves towards increased cost sharing, with higher, more realistic training fees (with scholarships for the needy) and perhaps state-backed student/trainee loans.
4 Training levies Funding diversification measures to include training levies on enterprises.
5 Income generation Funding diversification measures also include income generation by public training institutions.
6 Decentralisation Income generation objectives would be furthered through decentralisation of control over public sector providers and greater institutional autonomy.
7 Private sector Government to encourage private sector provision of training.
8 Funding public training institutions Replace arbitrary, ad hoc funding arrangements by objective formula funding related to inputs, outputs and outcomes. Consider case for subsidy of selected private training institutions.
9 Trainee/consumer choice More voice is to be accorded to trainee/consumer choice; vouchers may help develop the demand side of the market where subsidy needs to be retained.
10 Levy-grant Levy-grant mechanisms to be introduced where formal sector enterprises under-train.
11 Training funds National training funds to be developed, to take a broader and longer term view of training expenditures in a national context.
12 Training authorities Where institutionally possible, fully-fledged, autonomous national training authorities to be established.
13 Stakeholders Increased participation of stakeholders (especially employers) in national training policy formation and execution.
14 Disadvantaged groups Continuing and enhanced government role in skills development as an integral part of a package of measures to assist disadvantaged groups.
15 Informal sector Central attention to be paid to largely neglected training needs of small micro enterprises and informal sector producers.

The finance related issues are based on research by the World Bank. They all impact on reaching the main training policy objective of facilitating the development of effective, efficient, competitive, flexible, and responsive (demand-driven) training systems to meet national economic and social needs, and the needs of individuals (Dunbar 2013).

Private financing of skills development is intrinsically linked to the expected return in that investment and to greater involvement by those financers in its development. The availability of reliable information is critical if learners are to access funds for training. The evidence suggests that levy systems and tax incentives are unlikely to work well in countries where industry is not well-developed and administrative or organisational capacity is weak. Also, levy systems and tax incentives tend to favour large companies unless mitigating measures are introduced. Evidence from voucher schemes shows mixed results but includes stimulation of the private training market and increased demand from learners. Student loans are high risk and work best when employment prospects of graduates are good and there is a strong likelihood of repayment (Dunbar 2013).

7.3 Policy instruments to promote training

Müller and Behringer (2012) found there to be a considerable knowledge gap regarding the true effectiveness and efficiency of specific policy instruments to promote employer-provided training for employees. A limitation of indirect subsidies, such as tax incentives, is that even if firms can be convinced to utilise tax incentives, unanticipated substitution effects may impair effectiveness. Tax incentives may be ineffective in targeting specific groups of workers or enterprises. Evidence suggests they favour large enterprises and highly educated individuals and therefore work best to overcome aggregate under-investment.

Direct subsidies allow more effective targeting. As with all subsidies, there is a risk that certain forms of learning may be favoured. With regard to training funds in combination with firm levies, compulsory schemes may be detrimental and erode employer investment, outweighing the potential benefits. In order to function well, levy schemes require a sufficient number of contributing firms and the administrative capacity for raising funds and disbursing them in line with specified criteria. Consequently, levy schemes have encountered serious problems in some developing countries. The most success has been reported in fast-growing countries (e.g. Singapore), where the positive development of training provision need not necessarily be attributed entirely to the functioning of the respective levy scheme (Müller and Behringer 2012).

7.4 Pre-employment and enterprise training funds

Johanson (2009) reviewed pre-employment and enterprise training funds in over 60 countries. The evidence suggests that national training funds are an increasingly common vehicle for financing training, despite a lack of rigorous evaluation of the impact of training funds on the skills and employability of the workforce in developing countries.

The three main types of training funds identified are:

  • Pre-employment training funds
  • Enterprise training funds
  • Equity training funds

7.5 Strategic approaches to skills development

The OECD Skills Strategy (2012) provides a policy framework that guides countries on how to invest in skills for creating jobs and boosting economic growth. Although the strategy is focused on OECD member countries, it provides useful context that is relevant for non-member countries. Valiente (2014) explains how the strategy puts skills policies at the very centre of national strategies for economic recovery. Their positioning as such is particularly pertinent in the context of the global economic crisis. National strategies should be aiming to transform countries into internationally competitive high skills economies. Education and training policies can contribute to these strategies by:

  • Developing the relevant skills for the knowledge economy
  • Incentivising the participation of inactive individuals in the labour market through retraining and up-skilling.
  • Fostering entrepreneurship and supporting employers in the creation of highly skilled jobs.

Education and training systems must be integrated into national skills strategies to upgrade the demand for skills of an economic structure that is unable to absorb a highly skilled workforce. These systems must no longer be regarded as passive recipients of the demands from employers and markets (Valiente 2014). The following best practices allow countries to adopt a comprehensive and systematic approach to skills policies, and are based on lessons learned by developing the OECD Skills Strategy (2012):

  • Prioritise investment of scarce resources: Since it is costly to develop a population’s skills, skills policies need to be designed so that these investments reap the greatest economic and social benefits.
  • Combine short- and long-term considerations: Effective skills policies are needed to respond to structural and cyclical challenges, such as rising unemployment when economies contract or acute skills shortages when sectors boom, and to ensure longer-term strategic planning for the skills that are needed to foster a competitive edge and support required structural changes.
  • Build a case for lifelong learning: By seeing skills as a tool to be honed over an individual’s lifetime, a strategic approach allows countries to assess the impact of different kinds of learning – from early childhood education through formal schooling to formal and informal learning later on – with the aim of balancing the allocation of resources to maximise economic and social outcomes.
  • Foster a whole-of-government approach: If skills are to be developed over a lifetime, then a broad range of policy fields are implicated, including education, science and technology, employment, economic development, migration and public finance. Aligning policies among these diverse fields helps policy makers to identify policy tradeoffs that may be required and avoid duplication of efforts and ensure efficiency.
  • Align the perspectives of different levels of government: With major geographical variations in the supply of and the demand for skills within countries, there is a strong rationale for considering skills policies at the local level. This would help countries to align national aspirations with local needs.
  • Include all relevant stakeholders: Designing effective skills policies requires more than co-ordinating different sectors of public administration and aligning different levels of government: a broad range of nongovernmental actors, including employers, professional and industry associations and chambers of commerce, trade unions, education and training institutions and, of course, individuals must also be involved.

The OECD skills strategy (2012) states that to achieve a high-quality pool of skills, a country must consider three main policy levers:

  • Those that improve the quality and quantity of skills
  • Those that activate the skills for the labour market
  • Those that ensure that skills are used effectively

7.6 Country examples

Nicaragua

Macours et al. (2013) analyse the potential returns for targeting mechanisms in poor rural communities in Nicaragua. As interventions aimed at increasing the income generating capacity of the poor have a potentially important role to play in reducing poverty, the findings are relevant to many developing countries. In Nicaragua, skills interventions resulted in increased participation in non-agricultural employment and higher income from related activities. Investing in targeting would not increase the impact of the programmes. Pro-poor targeting does not come at the cost of reducing the overall impacts of these interventions. Self-targeting, that is based on baseline demand, can lead to important exclusion errors. Self-targeting may reduce the poverty-reduction potential of these types of interventions, especially when low aspirations limit the poor’s ex-ante demand for productive interventions, and when the interventions have the potential to increase those aspirations. However, self-targeting may have limited poverty reduction by excluding the poorest (Macours et al. 2013).

South Africa

In South Africa, during the Mbeki Presidency, skills development was regarded as central to improving social and economic performance. ‘Skill’ took a key role in the debate on international competitiveness, economic growth and poverty reduction. Through the 2003 Immigration Act, a new strategy for attracting such skills from outside the country has been developed, as well as forming the core of the 2001 Human Resources Development Strategy. In their book, McGrath et al. (2004) examine the multiple and shifting meanings that ‘skill’ has taken on in South Africa. There is a particular focus on unpacking the notion of ‘skill’ as ways of supporting the national project and suggesting how best to deal with the issue of ‘skill’ in South Africa. The authors explain how ‘skill’ is included in contemporary policies and practices, and frame the historical and international contexts.

7.7 Quality of evidence

The evidence presented on the current status of skills development includes a medium number of high-quality systematic reviews published by the World Bank and OECD, each describing detailed methodologies and drawing on substantial data-sets and case studies, and which can be regarded as highly reliable sources. In some cases, these publications have a lower focus on analysing TVET-related policy in LMICs. Further evidence on new approaches to focussing on TVET is drawn from a proposals report produced for UNESCO ahead of EFA Global Report 2012, a published peer-reviewed research paper, and a country-specific analysis of TVET policy published in 2004, each of which are of high quality. There are a small number of country case studies featured: due to various geographic, social and/or political factors, the countries selected could be regarded as atypical.

8.1 Introduction

This topic guide focused on skills immediately necessary for employment and increased productivity in low-income settings. It focused on TVET skills, which are concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work. The importance and value of obtaining basic skills is recognised as these are a pre-requisite for higher order skills development. The purpose of this guide is to introduce the reader to relevant ideas, concepts and theories relevant to skills development. It serves to point the reader in the right direction to relevant sources for further details. For the purpose of this paper, skills are understood to be competencies that can be gained from experiences during and after childhood, especially through education. This paper focused in particular on skills concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the world of work.

The evidence that does exist shows the positive impact of training on future employment and earnings. Young people require skills that prepare them for decent jobs so they can thrive and participate fully in society. A global effort is required to improve training that develops foundational skills for entering the workforce, allowing young people to actively participate in society. Skills training can also improve self-awareness, empathy, decision making, goal setting, and communication skills for youth. Skills development is needed for both formal and informal employment. However, the data suggests there is a positive link between education and training and working in a job that is not farming. Formal education, therefore, is likely to lead to formal employment. Basic skills are needed to perform basic tasks or acquire further skills. High skills are needed for critical thinking and decision making. Although there is a global paucity of reliable data on skills development, the evidence that does exist suggests that provision and access to skills is unequal in different countries, regions and contexts. It is known that marginalised groups are less likely to be able to access skills. In the past, TVET has received less attention than other education sectors such as primary and secondary schooling. However, in recent times, there is increasing momentum behind the skills development agenda. This groundswell of support is highlighted by the fact that there is likely to a specific target to measure skills development in the SDGs, which is testament to the increasing support for further development in this area.

8.2 Skills and development

This topic guide has highlighted evidence that indicates that TVET is shown to be more effective when focused on skills closely linked to market demand. However, a solid general education is required as a prerequisite. Youth development, skill acquisition and future employment opportunities depend in part on youths having a solid academic foundation. This is shown to be particularly significant for those members of communities who are socially disadvantaged. Women have been shown to benefit more than men from skills training, as in the labour market they are often starting from a greater state of disadvantage. There have been mixed reports about the impacts of training and skill-building programmes. Although there is some evidence available about the benefits of developing TVET systems, TVET does not guarantee a solution to youth unemployment. Other factors must be addressed, such as economic growth, cost of labour, legislation, and unrealistic wage expectations. Increased productivity is often viewed as the goal of skills development. However, considering TVET solely through a productivism lens may not address all the issues and challenges. To successfully develop or reform training systems, other theories and paradigms, including a rights based perspective, are required. Evidence has shown that in many countries there is a mismatch between the supply and demand of skills both within countries and in the global economy, with demand for skilled workers outstripping supply. There may be resistance from the private sector to invest in training due to uncertainty over the returns. Evidence illustrating the benefits may need to be produced. Involving all stakeholders, including employers, in the design and delivery of training contributes to better outcomes for all. It may be appropriate for the private sector to offer apprenticeship programmes to provide access to training and to new technology. In some countries, clusters of specialised businesses may facilitate knowledge-sharing and provide training.

8.3 Market failures

The mismatch between the supply and demand of skills must be addressed for progress to be made. In many cases, the private sector will have a better understanding of what skills are needed for the workplace. Training provided by the private sector may also allow for smoother transitions into employment. However, training provided by the private sector may need regulating, which can be challenging. The private sector will expect to recoup the return on investment in training. If they cannot, they will not be willing to finance training in the future. Governments are therefore encouraged to set policy frameworks that allow for competition and encourage innovation and technological change as well as in correcting market failures. It is a challenge to persuade individuals that it is worth their effort, time and resources to invest in their own training. Individuals may not invest in training for many reasons, including a lack of information, limited cognitive capacity, psychological factors, inaccurate information on returns to training and misunderstandings regarding employment prospects once trained. Individuals may also lack the incentive to invest in their own training if employers have market power and are able to keep future wages down. Targeted subsidies can correct market failures or improve incentives to invest in training. In particular, vulnerable groups may need to be targeted. Other government interventions can help to correct market failures. Such interventions include increasing the bargaining power of workers, reducing barriers to entry in markets, facilitating the diffusion of new technologies to create demands for skilled labour, reducing poaching of labour, credit for training, and providing information about labour market conditions and the quality of various training providers.

Evidence suggests that entrepreneurship leads to growth, job creation, technology adoption, innovation and poverty alleviation, all of which drives economic development. Well-targeted government interventions can ease constraints on entrepreneurship and facilitate private sector take-off. Where possible, policy makers are encouraged to remove obstacles to entrepreneurship such as poor business climate, excessive taxation and other prohibitive start-up costs. To improve the delivery of TVET systems, better planning is needed, based on solid data. Poor data can result in skills gaps and further entrench the mismatch between supply and demand. If policy makers have access to improved data and respond to it appropriately, this situation will improve.

Technological advances, such as the internet, have revolutionised education including skills training. Learning from a distance has brought the cost of training down as well as increasing choice of the content, schedule, pace, duration and recruitment criteria. One area where technological advances may improve service delivery is in overcoming gender barriers to training.

Different countries are likely to face different gender challenges regarding training. To be successful, TVET programmes must address gender disparities, inequalities and stereotypes. Gender barriers may exist for both accessing TVET programmes and accessing employment. TVET policies must address these barriers. Girls and women may require special attention in TVET programme planning to take into account that they are at the lower ranks of skills development, employment and income generation. Gender discrimination may prevent women from obtaining the training necessary for obtaining better payed jobs. Stereotypes about jobs may channel boys and girls into different training programmes and reinforce enrolment patterns. Government interventions may help overcome some of the gender challenges, by encouraging girls to enrol in certain programmes. Financial incentives may help channel female enrolment. Offering distance education may reduce problems associated with travelling to training locations.

8.4 Existing systems

There is a current drive amongst most countries in the world to improve skills and training systems. There are many examples of reform of existing systems and interventions to provide a level playing field. To be successful, training must deliver the skills that are required. Local people are often in the best position to both advise on what skills are needed, but also to help deliver the training that is required. Special attention must be paid by policy makers to the needs of people with disabilities to access the skills and training they need to improve their situation. Skills provide a route to escape from poverty and dependence, and the barriers people with disabilities face to entering the training market must be overcome. Efforts need to improve access to quality basic education, which provides the foundation skills needed to go on to acquire more specialised skills.

8.5 Skills for employment, employability and higher earnings

Evidence shows that general training increases worker productivity, translating to higher earnings in a competitive labour market. General training also makes workers more employable. This may act as a disincentive for firms to pay for general training, preferring to pay for specific training. Productivity leads to higher earnings and more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. Earnings and employment challenges reflect the broader challenges and opportunities of a globalised world. Early childhood development, including cognitive and socio-emotional skills, are essential for future employment and subsequent earnings later in life. When youths lack of the means, skills and knowledge to make the transition from school to work, or between sectors of employment, they may end up not fulfilling their potential, both in terms of productivity and contribution to society. The basic school system must be effective to allow for acquisition of skills later on. Evidence for the returns on investment from TVET systems varies widely across contexts and over time. More research is needed to show what works. There is some evidence that start-up grants, cash infusions and capital transfers stimulate self-employment and raise long term earning potential, but more research is needed.

There are many challenges to establishing a TVET system. For example, in some countries there is a lack of industry experienced instructors, few industry partnerships, and lack of adequate resources to offer access to high quality workshops and equipment. The more local members of society can be involved in programmes, the better. In fact, evidence has shown that programmes that involve a level of participation have greater success. In particular, these approaches can assist with developing women’s skills. To improve TVET systems, governments and policy makers are advised to focus on quality assurance and improving the quality of information available. Higher education must be geared toward private demand to ensure maximum employment of university graduates. Also policy makers are advised to consider geographical characteristics. Youths in rural areas often have consistently lower education levels. Rural disadvantages in education limit scope for future employment among those youth remaining in rural areas who did manage to complete their education.

8.6 The geopolitical landscape

As mentioned above, traditionally there has been a lower level of support for TVET compared to other education sectors. Commitments and will to fund TVET is much weaker than efforts to fund schooling or higher education. To make a difference, new and innovative ways must be identified to mobilise financial support for TVET. Skills development programmes must shift and focus on responding to the increasing demand for training opportunities with greater private sector involvement, better coordination, effective use of new technology and the media, and interventions with a sectoral focus. As long as there is a level of regulation and quality assurance, private training providers have a major role to play in skills development. Evidence may be needed to encourage the private financing of skills development, as there is likely to be an expected return on investment by those providing the financing. There is currently a considerable knowledge gap regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of training. More research is needed. To be successful, education and training systems must be integrated into national skills strategies. This will ensure that, on completion of training, the economy can absorb the skilled workforce.

Acemoglu D and Pischke J-S. 1998. ‘Why Do Firms Train? Theory and Evidence’. The Quarterly Journal of Economics; 113(1)

This paper offers a theory of training whereby workers do not pay for the general training they receive. The superior information of the current employer regarding its employees’ abilities relative to other firms creates ex post monopsony power, and encourages this employer to provide and pay for training, even if these skills are general. The model can lead to multiple equlibria. In one equilibrium quits are endogenously high, and as a result employers have limited monopsony power and provide little training, while in another equilibrium quits are low and training is high. Using microdata on German apprentices, the authors show that the predictions of the model receive some support from the data. Although published in the late 1990s, it offers important theory that is still relevant to the discussion on skills.

Adams A. 2008. Skills Development in the Informal Sector of SubSaharan Africa. The World Bank. Washington DC.

The informal sector of sub-Saharan Africa is comprised of small and household enterprises that operate in the non-farm sector outside the protected employment of the formal wage sector. The sector was identified 40 years ago by the International Labour Organization (ILO) representing a pool of surplus labour that was expected to be absorbed by future industrialisation, but rather than gradually disappearing, it has become a persistent feature of the region’s economic landscape accounting for a majority of jobs created off the farm. Acknowledging its potential as a source of employment for the region’s expanding workforce and improving its productivity and earnings is recognised as a priority for poverty reduction. This study examines the role played by education and skills development in achieving this objective. Until now, few studies have used household labour force surveys to capture the skills profile of the informal sector and study how different means of skills development – formal education, technical and vocational education and training, apprenticeships, and learning on the job – shape productivity and earnings in the informal sector as compared with the formal wage sector. This study uses household labour force surveys to look at the experience of skills development in five African countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania – that together account for one-third of the nearly 900 million persons living in SSA. The study defines the non-farm informal sector as the self-employed (own account and with workers), contributing family members, and wage workers in small and household enterprises. Of the nearly 36 million working off the farm in the five countries, 7 out of 10 are working in the informal sector. The importance of this study is its quantitative assessment of how different sources of skills development are related to the sector in which one works and the earnings received in that sector. It further highlights a set of economic constraints to acquiring skills in the small and household enterprises of the informal sector that will have to be overcome if skills are to become a means for improving productivity and earnings in this sector. The study offers a comprehensive strategy for improving employment outcomes in the informal sector through skills development with examples of successful interventions taken from international experience and the five countries.

Adams A. 2011. The Role of Skills Development in Overcoming Social Disadvantage. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012. UNESCO, Paris

This paper was written as part of the planning phase for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012. Its objective is to highlight current policies that support skills development and to identify gaps that present potential for progress. Theories of skills acquisition have moved on from being exclusively linked to formal education settings. Other sources of skills development are now considered. This includes skills development through informal at work learning, apprenticeships and enterprise-based training. It also includes government and non-government funded training and education institutes. Past policy interventions and country experiences can provide important lessons on past policies and inform new ways of thinking. The first section of this paper explores definitions and theories about skills development. It considers measuring and monitoring of success. The second section provides an overview of evaluating skills development implementations. The third section reflects on reform trends and challenges in reaching the socially disadvantaged with skills and the policy gaps that need to be filled.

Adams A, Johansson de Silva S and Razmara S. 2013. Improving Skills Development in the Informal Sector Strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank. Washington DC.

This study examines the role played by education and skills development in achieving sub-Saharan Africa’s full potential. It uses household labour force surveys to look at the experience of skills development in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The household labour force surveys capture the skills profile of the informal sector and study how different means of skills development – including formal education, technical and vocational education and training, apprenticeships, and learning on the job – shape productivity and earnings in the informal sector as compared with the formal wage sector. It quantitatively assesses how different sources of skills development are related to the sector in which one works and the earnings received in that sector. It highlights economic constraints to skills acquisition. It delivers a comprehensive strategy for improving employment outcomes in the informal sector through skills development with examples of successful interventions taken from international experience and the five countries.

Allais S. 2010. The implementation and impact of National Qualifications Frameworks: Report of a study in 16 countries. International Labour Office, Geneva.

This report aimed to produce empirical evidence and analysis of countries’ experiences of introducing a qualifications framework as part of a strategy to achieve skills development and employment goals. A qualifications framework is intended to improve understanding of qualifications (degrees, certificates, or recognition of experiential-based learning and capabilities) in terms of the information they convey to an employer about prospective workers’ competencies. Frameworks can also explain how qualifications relate to each other. This study aimed to develop an understanding of how employers are using qualifications frameworks in their hiring decisions and whether qualifications make a difference to workers in the job market.

This report reviewed existing research on the English National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and the early reforms leading to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, as well as the other three ‘early starter’ qualifications frameworks (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) in five case studies based on existing research and documentation. A further 11 case studies were based on new fieldwork. Chile and Mexico were researched as these countries started work on the development of Labour Competence Frameworks in the late 1990s, even though they do not yet have NQFs per se. Botswana, Malaysia and Mauritius can be described as ‘second generation’ NQFs. Bangladesh, Lithuania, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Turkey have more recently started developing qualifications frameworks, with Russia being the most recent. The study also involved a review of available literature, a critical analysis of the different roles of qualifications in educational reform, and the development of a proposed typology of qualifications frameworks.

Allais S. 2012. ‘Will skills save us? Rethinking the relationships between vocational education, skills development policies, and social policy in South Africa’. International Journal of Educational Development 32(5)

This paper explores skills development in South Africa. It considers the relationships between vocational education and development. Policy interventions and new institutions and systems for skills development have failed to increase the number of skilled workers in South Africa. South African media and policy circles report that a skills shortage and an inflexible labour market are causing unemployment. Skills are being included as part of a ‘self-help’ agenda, alongside wage subsidies and a reduction of protective legislation for young workers, instead of collective responsibility for social welfare. Skills policies are founded on state regulation and qualification and quality assurance reform. Little emphasis has been placed on building provision systems and on curriculum development. The South African experience exemplifies how difficult it is to develop robust and coherent skills development in the context of inadequate social security, high levels of job insecurity, and high levels of inequalities. The weaknesses of market-led vocational education are detailed.

Almeida R, Behrman J and Robalino D. (eds). 2012. The Right Skills for the Job? Rethinking Training Policies for Workers. The World Bank, Washington DC.

This book is concerned with upgrading job relevant skills. It focus on three types of training programmes relevant for individuals who are leaving formal general schooling or are already in the labour market. These are

  • Pre-employment technical and vocational education and training (TVET). TVET is usually offered within the formal schooling track and tends to be administered by the ministries of education.
  • On-the-job training (OJT).
  • Training-related active labour market programmes (ALMPs). ALMPs do not take up much time and target low skilled or informal workers who do not have access to TVET or OJT.

The book discusses the strengths and weaknesses of these programmes and contextualises them with market failures that can lead to underinvestment in training and misalignment between supply and demand for skills. Examples are given of programmes that are part of the problem and not the solution. Recommendations are made to improve the design and implementation of current skills development systems. Important design features are reported, as are gaps in the evidence.

Altenburg T. 2010. Industrial policy in Ethiopia. German Development Institute, Bonn

This report assesses industrial policy in Ethiopia. Industrial policy is a contested issue, especially for low-income countries. Proactive policies are required to make the transition from low-productivity resourced-based societies with large informal sectors to more productive, knowledge-based and formalised patterns of productive organisation. However, channelling resources into preferential activities may reduce allocative efficiency. This can create perverse incentives for stakeholders including investors and bureaucrats. This problem is exacerbated in low-income settings, where political checks and balances may be weak. The Ethiopian government has created the preconditions for a market-based and socially inclusive industrial transformation. It has demonstrated commitment to investing in technological learning in order to build new competitive advantages through programmes to strengthen the technical and vocational education system. Universities and specialised supporting institutions have been established. Diversification and industrial development are the objectives. Agricultural demand-led industrialisation and export promotion are central in its strategy. For the last ten years, the Ethiopian economy has grown at 11 per cent annually, mainly due to favourable agro-climatic conditions, high coffee prices, considerable inflows of aid and remittances, and a boom in construction. However, the economic structure has not changed much and competitiveness has not increased. This study focuses on the policymaking process in the leather/leather products and the cut flower industries.

Arbache JS, Kolev A & Filipiak E (Eds). 2010. Gender Disparities in Africa’s Labor Market. World Bank, Washington DC.

Evidence indicates that in several countries in Africa, women’s earnings are a fraction of male’s earnings. It is argued in this book that the gap is not simply the result of discrimination in the labour markets, but rather the result of multiple factors, including access to education and credit, cultural values and household duties and labour market conditions. Gender disparities are shown to grow when economies are not functioning well and labour markets are very small. Job rationing causes those with better human capital and those with more power in the household—usually the men—to take the few jobs that are available. In regions with small formal sectors, gender disparities in earnings are high. Firm-level and sector characteristics are additional powerful factors in explaining the gender disparities in the labour market. Multifaceted strategies are required. Governments must actively encourage environments that support economic growth and job creation, as well as by promoting equal access for women to education. Attitudes that limit what women may achieve must be addressed. Gender Disparities in Africa’s Labour Market helps to fill the knowledge gap and identify the links between gender disparities and poverty reduction.

Blattman C and Annan J. 2011. Reintegrating and Employing High Risk Youth in Liberia: Lessons from a randomized evaluation of a Landmine Action agricultural training program for ex-combatants

Despite a lack of rigorous evidence, states and aid agencies encourage employment programmes to rehabilitate men who are at risk of returning to violence, in the belief that peaceful work opportunities will deter them from crime and violence. This paper presents an evaluation of a programme of agricultural training, capital inputs, and counselling for Liberians who had previously been involved in fighting and who were illegally mining or occupying rubber plantations. Men who accepted the programme were shown to increase the time they spent employed on farms. Their profits also increased as they shifted work hours away from illicit activities. Mercenary work was also reduced. Some men did not receive their capital inputs but expected a future cash transfer instead, and they reduced illicit and mercenary activities most of all. Relatively small changes in returns to peaceful work, especially future and ongoing incentives led to a change in illicit and mercenary labour supply. However, the evidence also indicates that the impacts of training alone, without capital, appear to be low.

Blattman C and Ralston L. 2015. Generating Employment in Poor and Fragile States: Evidence from Labor Market and Entrepreneurship Programs. World Bank, Washington DC.

This paper reviews the evidence on what interventions designed to raise incomes in fragile states work, and whether stimulating employment promotes social stability. Skills training and microfinance have shown little impact on poverty or stability, especially relative to programme cost. In contrast, the evidence suggests that injections of capital (cash, capital goods, or livestock) may stimulate self-employment and raise long term earning potential, often when partnered with low-cost complementary interventions. Such capital-centric programmes, alongside cash-for-work, may be the most effective tools for putting people to work and boosting incomes in poor and fragile states. Such programmes could help to reduce crime and other materially-motivated violence modestly. However, a degree of caution should be taken regarding the effects of employment on crime and violence, as some forms of violence do not respond to incomes or employment.

Brixiova Z. 2010. ‘Unlocking Productive Entrepreneurship in Africa’s Least Developed Countries’. African Development Review; 22(3)

Structural transformation and productive entrepreneurship can create jobs and accelerate growth. For many people living in poverty in Africa’s least developed countries, subsistence agriculture is the main source of employment. Jobs and growth will improve their chances of increasing their standard of living. However, progress of a dynamic private sector in industry or high value-added services remain elusive. This paper develops a theoretical framework to examine the main obstacles to entrepreneurship in Africa’s poorest countries. There are clearly skill shortages in these economies. Development of entrepreneurship cannot be left to markets alone. The state has a role to play as well. Carefully conceived and implemented state interventions including training can help to establish small and medium enterprises that are required.

Cedefop. 2011. The impact of vocational education and training on company performance. European Union, Luxemburg

This study presents a meta-analysis of the evidence available in literature on the economic benefits of VET at company level. It includes 62 studies and 264 estimated effects, covering many different company performance and training indicators. The meta-analysis concludes that VET has a positive and significant effect on the economic performance of firms. The effects of different types of training is hard to assess as the evidence is limited. This is due to this aspect not being recorded in most studies. Similarly, a clear relationship between the size of investment and size of the effect on productivity was hard to establish for the limited comparability of the VET variables and estimated effects collected.

Cheema A, Khwaja A, Naseer M F and Shapiro J. (date unknown). Designing active labor market policies in Southern Punjab – Evidence from household and community surveys. Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan, Pakistan.

The Punjab Economic Opportunities Program (PEOP) is a flagship programme of the Government of Punjab being implemented in partnership with DfID. PEOP aims to alleviate poverty and create inclusive growth in the province’s high poverty districts – Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Muzaffargarh – by increasing the employability and earnings of poor and vulnerable families. This report summarises the design-relevant findings using a random district-representative sample of 10,946 households in 709 Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) surveyed (out of a total 809 PSUs to be surveyed as part of the Baseline Household Survey Activity) in the programme districts. The contribution of the report is ultimately to prioritise between a set of possible interventions (i.e., arguing there is more support for some versus others) and in providing analysis that informs design specific programme features.

Cook G and Younis A. 2012. Somalia youth livelihoods program – Final evaluation. USAID, Somalia.

The objective of the Somali Youth Livelihoods Program (SYLP), known locally as Shaqodoon, was to establish systems that bridge supply and demand with necessary support to young people and employers. It aimed to provide Somali youth with a greater opportunity to access work opportunities. This evaluation presents quantitative and qualitative information and data that indicate that it was largely successful. The programme succeeded in providing internships or paid job placements in the private and public sectors for 87 per cent of the 9,280 youth who completed the training and placement component – exceeding targets. Youth, parents, business owners, and government authorities considered the training effective and the placement opportunities beneficial for youth’s long-term employment prospects. This evaluation provides information and lessons learned to USAID on both the programme and the implementer (the Education Development Center).

Darvas P and Palmer R. 2014. Demand and Supply of Skills in Ghana: How Can Training Programs Improve Employment? World Bank, Washington DC

As many as 24 million youths live in Ghana. In the last 20 years it has shown impressive gains in economic growth and in poverty reduction. Sustained growth requires three steps:

  • Increase productivity in the strategic economic sectors
  • Diversify the economy
  • Expand employment

Raising the quality and quantity of skills provides a contribution to these drivers of sustained growth. Skills development in Ghana encompasses foundational skills (literacy and numeracy), transferable and soft skills, and technical and vocational skills. These skills are acquired throughout life through formal education, training, and higher education; on the job through work experience and professional training; through family and community; and via the media.

This paper is concerned with TVET in Ghana at the pre-tertiary level. TVET alone does not guarantee productivity gains or job creation. A mixture of cognitive, non-cognitive, intermediate, and higher technical skills is required to enhance competitiveness and contribute to social inclusion, acceptable employment, and the alleviation of poverty. The public financing approach and general lack of incentives to improve TVET in Ghana help to perpetuate a supply-driven, low-quality skills system that responds very poorly to the needs of the economy, and especially its growth sectors. It is recommended that the national skills strategy in Ghana should aim to complement, and be complemented by, reforms that are underway in related sectors (for example, private sector development and employment, the informal economy, information and communication technologies, and agriculture). Sustainable financing for the skills development fund (SDF) is an example of an innovative reform. Channelling TVET resources through a SDF facilitates the allocation of funds in line with general national socioeconomic priorities and specific priorities identified by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET).

Depover C and Orivel F. 2013. Developing countries in the e-learning era. UNESCO, Paris

Digital technologies provide opportunities for rural and remote populations. In the education context, digital technologies permit the development of adapted and diversified pedagogical models, with an economic approach aiming at more than just economies of scale. In many developing countries, needs often exceed resources. In these contexts, distance education provides many benefits. Digital technology can reduce geographical isolation, improve education cost structures. They can also allow for monitoring of social and economic remoteness.

Dunbar M. 2013. Engaging the private sector in skills development. HEART, Oxford

This report aims to provide an understanding of the role of the private sector in skills development, both as employers and as skills providers. The objective was to find potential opportunities to support private sector integration in all aspects of skills development, particularly in low-income contexts. In addition, the research explored the twin issues of access to finance for skills development stakeholders; and financial support from the private sector for skills development programmes. The volume of recent work focused on skills is considerable. It is clear that a radical shift in skills development is both needed and is beginning to take place. To succeed, this shift must:

  • Respond to demand for training opportunities with greater private sector involvement
  • Improve co-ordination efforts between stakeholders
  • Make effective use of new technology and the media

Private sector interventions generally need facilitation either by a government, donor or NGO. Employers are more likely to engage in skills development at any level, if the benefits of doing so are apparent, the business environment is favourable and there is minimal bureaucracy attached. Their engagement is being proactive.

Dustmann C and Schönberg U. 2012. ‘What Makes Firm-based Vocational Training Schemes Successful? The Role of Commitment’. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics; 4(2)

This document focuses on possible market failure in the firm-based vocational training market. It considers that training requirements may be complex. If this is the case, they will be unlikely to be specified in a legally enforceable contract. This makes it hard for firms to commit to training provision. Training tends to be lower where there is no commitment. Firm based vocational training schemes tend to be more successful in locations where commitment to training provision is established. The authors present a model of firm provided training, illustrating best practice.

EFA GMR. 2012. Youth and skills – Putting education to work. Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012, UNESCO, Paris.

This report focuses on skills and education. It examines how skills development programmes can be improved to boost young people’s opportunities for decent jobs and better lives. Many young people leave the education system without the necessary skills to find work and contribute to society. These education failures impact on economic growth and social cohesion. Poor and inadequate training prevents many countries from realising potential benefits of their growing young populations.

EFA GMR. 2015. Education for All 2000-2015: achievements and challenges. Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2015, UNESCO, Paris.

In 2000, at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 164 governments agreed on the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments, launching an ambitious agenda to reach six wide-ranging education goals by 2015. This report provides a complete assessment of progress towards the Framework’s goals. Looking forward, the report also identifies key factors that must be considered when planning and implementing the post-2015 global education agenda. Chapter 3 focuses on youth and adult skills. Young people need decent jobs. Global efforts are needed to ensure that young people have the foundational skills required to enter the workforce and actively participate in society. The focus of this chapter is access and barriers to secondary education. It analyses which skills and values are required for social progress. Education alternatives are suggested for people who have left school but still require skills development. The changing discourse on TVET and adult education is discussed.

ETF and World Bank. 2005. Reforming Technical Vocational Education and Training in the Middle East and North Africa: Experiences and Challenges. Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

This report by the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the World Bank is the result of a joint analysis of the main challenges for the reform of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the Middle East and North Africa. The role of TVET in the provision of quality and relevant learning opportunities in the region is explored around five themes: improving governance, financing, quality and relevance, the role of the private sector and the acquisition of skills in the informal sector. Key findings from country reviews of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia are presented in the report.

Elder S, de Haas H, Principi M and Schewel K. 2015. Youth and rural development: Evidence from 25 school-to-work transition surveys. International Labour Office, Geneva

This report uses data from the school-to-work transitions surveys (SWTSs) from 2012-2013. It assesses the labour market conditions of youth in rural and urban areas. From this perspective it offers insights into prospects for fundamental transformations of rural sectors within the development process. While confirming some blurring between rural and urban areas in terms of sectoral distribution of employment, it is concluded that low-income countries in particular have a long way to go in the diversification of rural economies beyond agriculture and petty trades and even further in building the capacity of rural labour markets to generate decent employment opportunities for young people.

Faccini B and Salzano C. 2011. Capacity development for education for all (CapEFA): Translating theory into practice. UNESCO, Paris

UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report suggests that national barriers to EFA have been largely under-estimated and that, over the past decade, insufficient attention has been paid to strategies for overcoming them. This report offers reflection upon UNESCO’s capacity development approach and details achievements and lessons learned through the CapEFA programme. Examples are given on how specific capacity challenges to EFA are being addressed through nationally owned and driven capacity-development strategies, multi-stakeholder partnership arrangements and platforms for South-South cooperation.

Filmer D and Fox L. 2014. Youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. World Bank, Washington DC

This report examines obstacles faced by households and firms in meeting the youth employment challenge. Its main focus is on productivity in agriculture, nonfarm household enterprises (HEs) and in the modern wage sector. Productivity is linked to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. Specific areas are identified where government intervention could reduce those obstacles to productivity for households and firms, leading to brighter employment prospects for youth, their parents, and their own children.

George G, Surgey G and Gow J. 2014. ‘South Africa’s private sector investment in training and its erosion as a result of HIV and AIDS’. South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences; 17 (2)

The South African economy is dependent on the productivity of its labour. To maximise productivity the labour force must possess the appropriate skills. The private sector invests more funds than the government on training. However, the HIV and AIDS epidemic is eroding this investment. Based on an estimate of the HIV and AIDS death rate and data on training expenditure by the private sector, this study concludes that the loss for all sectors was estimated at almost R10 million (R9,871,732) during the study year, equating to USD1,183,661 per annum. This represents on average 0.73 per cent of the investment in training. The real costs of HIV and AIDS on business, which includes absenteeism, declining productivity and other costs, are difficult to quantify, but they are likely to significantly exceed this lost training investment as a result of increasing morbidity and mortality rates due to HIV. It is in the private sector’s best interest to ensure that a sound HIV and AIDS policy is in place. Companies must also invest in effective prevention programmes and provide the appropriate treatment to employees if needed or unavailable through the public health sector.

Glick P, Huang C and Mejia N. 2015. The Private Sector and Youth Skills and Employment Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. RAND Corporation, USA.

This paper provides a comprehensive look at the way the private sector is involved in youth skills and employment in low- and middle-income countries, considering the broad range of programme types and firm types. It presents and interprets the available evidence of the effectiveness of this involvement. It also presents an understanding of where the private sector has been most effective at promoting young people’s labour market success, and what could be done to enhance the role of the private sector to achieve this objective. In attempting to understand firms’ engagement and effectiveness, the authors draw on a basic economic framework that considers this behaviour in light of factors such as costs, perceived returns, information, and externalities.

Green F. 2011. ‘What is Skill? An Inter-Disciplinary Synthesis’. LLAKES Research Paper 20. The Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies, London

After some adaptations this paper formed Chapter 2 of: Green F. 2013. Skills and Skilled Work An Economic and Social Analysis, Oxford University Press, UK. 

This synthesis is concerned with the definition of the word ‘skill’. It argues that the word skill often has different meanings when being used in different contexts. Economists, sociologists and psychologists all ascribe high importance to skills, yet frequently define skills in different ways. Skill and competence are often interchanged. A simple functional concept is suggested that offers the prospect of dialogue and progress in skills analysis. The author argues that skills have three key features: they are productive, expandable and social.

Huxley S. 2010. Youth Participation in Development: A Guide for Development Agencies and Policy Makers, DfID-CSO Youth Working Group, London UK.

This guide has been developed to assist donor agencies (multilateral and bilateral) and policy advisors in a range of organisations working with and for youth. It will also be useful for government, NGO and civil society partners. This guide aims to increase understanding of the growing importance of, and greater potential for, youth participation in development practice and to explore key issues and approaches. But it goes beyond the rhetoric of many policy advocacy papers, which simply argue for a focus on youth participation. Rather, this guide provides information on how to actually work with youth at a practical operational level in respect of policy and programming. It does this through the provision of promising practice case studies (and their associated resources), and a number of quality standards that will help organisations to get started. Central to this guide is its focus on working with excluded sub-groups of young people, and the importance of building partnerships between adults and youth in a culturally sensitive manner. This is the foundation for all youth mainstreaming work. The guide draws on and synthesises the experience of a wide range of institutions, donor agencies and practitioners.

Jackson T. 2012. ‘Cross-cultural management and the informal economy in sub-Saharan Africa: implications for organization, employment and skills development’. International Journal of Human Resource Management; 23 (14)

The informal economy has grown in importance within sub-Saharan Africa, yet there are debates about its role within national economies that appear not to take cognisance of the interests and the weak power base of those working within the informal economy. This article argues that a cross-cultural perspective should be taken in understanding the geopolitical context of informal organisations, the power relationships involved and how the contributions and future of skills development, employment and organisation within the informal and wider economies can be better understood and researched. It initially alludes to the informal sector being closer to local communities, and more appropriate to developments in Africa, but draws on postcolonial theory to better understand the nature and role of such organisation within an interface of structural and phenomenological influences that question the nature of the ‘indigenous’ as an artefact. Some of the parameters of research in this area are drawn within this work while recognizing that further development is needed in both theory and methods. This article thus attempts to lay the foundations for a cross-cultural conceptual framework leading to a methodology that can inform both practice and policy in this neglected but important area.

Johanson R. 2009. A Review of National Training Funds. The World Bank, Washington DC

This review presents pre-employment and enterprise training funds from over sixty countries. The characteristics, advantages, and limitations of each are presented. Key design questions are discussed and examples of good practice illustrated. National training funds are increasingly used to finance training. This paper presents a typology of three main types of training funds by purpose:

  1. Pre-employment training funds
  2. Enterprise training funds
  3. Equity training funds

It highlights a lack of rigorous evaluation of the impact of training funds on the skills and employability of the workforce in developing countries.

Johanson R and Adams A. 2004. Skills Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. World Bank Washington, DC.

In no region other than Africa is the trade-off drawn more sharply between the achievement of skills development with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and providing universal basic education. Both are important to economic growth and poverty reduction, but the fiscal and administrative capacity of the state to meet both goals is limited. The presence of HIV/AIDS and its deskilling of the labour force compounds the problem. Defining the role of the state more strategically in the provision and financing of TVET is essential to achieving Education for All and the poverty reduction goal of the Millennium Development Goals. Confronting this trade-off is the objective of Skills Development in sub-Saharan Africa. Written to inform clients, donors, and World Bank staff about TVET experiences over the past decade, Skills Development in Sub-Saharan Africa builds a dialogue around this experience. The study sets out to update knowledge and explore issues and recent developments in TVET and distil lessons as a guide to future skills development in the region. The focus of the analysis is on the economics of skills development. Provision of financing of TVET are examined through the lens of economic efficiency, balanced with attention to social equity.

Kamoche K, Chizema A, Mellahi K and Newenham-Kahindi A. 2012. ‘New directions in the management of human resources in Africa’. International Journal of Human Resource Management; 23 (14)

The last decade has witnessed a notable increase in the volume of publications on human resource management (HRM) in Africa, particularly in reputable management journals. Yet, within the broader context of the mainstream HRM debate, advances in research and theoretical sophistication have not quite kept pace with the actual practice of management. This is particularly notable when it comes to the progress that organisations in Africa have made in product innovation and service delivery, the creation and application of advanced technology, as well as in the adoption of progressive/innovative HRM practices.

Ki-Moon B. 2014. The road to dignity by 2030: ending poverty, transforming all lives and protecting the planet. United Nations General Assembly Sixty-ninth session Agenda items 13 (a) and 115

This is a synthesis report of the UN Secretary-General on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. It details a universal and transformative agenda for sustainable development of people and the planet, underpinned by rights. In the report, the Secretary-General makes the point that for progression, it will be essential that young people receive relevant skills. These can be delivered through quality education and lifelong learning. Skills developed at an early age are important, as are life skills and vocational education and training.

King K. 2011. Eight Proposals for a Strengthened Focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Education for All (EFA) Agenda. UNESCO, Paris

This paper presents eight proposals that are based on several bodies of work on skills development. They aim to incorporate the detail of the discussion on skills development, some new ways of thinking about the topic, some priority areas and neglected issues, key topics, as well as data and research needs. The eight proposals are as follows:

  • Moving towards conceptual clarification of skills
  • Skills development for poverty reduction
  • Technical and vocational education and training and the enabling environment
  • Training in the informal or unorganised sector
  • School-based technical and vocational education
  • Improving the monitoring of low-hanging fruits in relation to TVE, and noting the higher-hanging fruits in vocational training and in the informal sector
  • Financing TVE and TVET
  • Identifying the situation of the poorest young people in the global politics of skills development

Section 7 is of particular interest for this chapter.

King K. 2012. ‘The geopolitics and meanings of India’s massive skills development ambitions’. International Journal of Educational Development; 32(5)

This study considers the drivers and meanings behind the dramatic rise of TVET in the policy and political agenda of India. It explores assumptions about the existing traditions and character of India’s culture and cultures of skills development. There is a paucity of long-term research on the TVET/skills development sector, although the recent growth in interest may remedy this in the long term. Skill acquisition in the informal sector may lack an explicit commitment to train, but may facilitate learning on the job.

Kingombe C. 2012. Lessons for Developing Countries from Experience with Technical and Vocational Education and Training. International Growth Centre. Working Paper; 11 (1017)

Globalisation and technological changes to economies necessitate enhancement of literacy education and training. This paper focuses on the Draft National TVET Policy for Sierra Leone (DNTVET). This has been described as a high priority for the Government and all the skills development (SD) stakeholders in the Second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP-11, 2009-2012). Enterprise and skills development, including the focus on youth employment, were emphasised. If Sierra Leone is to successfully make the transition to a middle-income country, successful skills development will be essential. Based on frontier research on the lessons learned from recent TVET reforms in other developing countries, this paper aims to inform the future comprehensive design and implementation of strategies for TVET in Sierra Leone. It suggests how to address future challenges and opportunities to ensure that the good performance of TVET reforms contribute to the promotion of sustainable growth through private sector development.

Macours K, Premand P and Vakis R. 2013. Pro-Poor Targeting of Business Grants and Vocational Skills Training. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6389. World Bank, Washington DC

Various interventions aim to increase the capacity of poor people to generate income. Vocational training, micro-finance or business grants are commonly implemented. If perceived returns from these interventions differ from actual returns, individuals who put themselves forward to participate may not be those for whom the programme is the most effective. This paper details an unusual experiment with very high take-up of business grants and vocational skills training, randomly assigned among nearly all households in selected poor rural communities in Nicaragua. On average, the interventions resulted in increased participation in non-agricultural employment and higher income from related activities. It is investigated whether intervention targeting could have resulted in higher returns by analysing heterogeneity in impacts by stated baseline demand, prior participation in non-agricultural activities, and a wide range of complementary asset endowments. The results show little heterogeneity along observed baseline characteristics. However, the poorest households are more likely to enter and have higher profits in non-agricultural self-employment, while less poor households assigned to the training have higher non-agricultural wages. This heterogeneity appears related to unobserved characteristics that are not revealed by stated baseline demand, and more difficult to target. In this context, self-targeting may reduce the poverty-reduction potential of income generating interventions, possibly because low aspirations limit the poor’s ex-ante demand for productive interventions while the interventions have the potential to increase those aspirations. To summarise, the paper finds that targeting productive interventions to poor households would not have come at the cost of reducing their effectiveness. By contrast, self-targeting would have limited poverty reduction by excluding the poorest.

McGrath S, Badroodien A, Kraak A and Unwin L (eds). 2004. Shifting Understandings of Skills in South Africa Overcoming the historical imprint of a low skills regime. Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town

The objective of this ebook is to critically engage with South Africa’s current skills development strategy and to analyse the prospects for a successful upskilling of the population. It contains chapters written by leading South African academics. It also includes content from skills formation systems experts. This ebook attempts to examine what is understood by the term ‘skill’ in the South African context. It does so in relation to how skill and skills are being employed in contemporary policies and practices within South Africa. It affirms the need to see such debates in both historical and international contexts. The authors share the policy concern with how to facilitate development and the role of skill and skills development in that focus. How skill supports the national project is a focus. Recommendations are made for how best to deal with the issue of skill in South Africa.

McGrath S. 2012. ‘Vocational education and training for development: A policy in need of a theory?International Journal of Educational Development; 32(5)

This paper argues that the role of vocational education and training in development needs to be considered from a theoretical standpoint. Current approaches in vocational education are outdated. Recent theoretical thinking about development offer a new perspective through which to understand the value of vocational education and its role in developing countries. There is a paucity of research into TVET. In particular, research into its theoretical foundations is particularly lacking. The implications for implementing TVET programmes in developing programmes needs to be readdressed in light of recent approaches to human rights, capabilities and human development.

McGrath S, Lugg R, Papier J, Needham S and Neymeyer S. 2013. Status of TVET in the SADC Region. UNESCO, Paris.

This report focuses on TVET in the South African Development Community (SADC). It finds that there is a very weak current knowledge base for TVET in the region. This report is a first step towards better knowledge on TVET for better policies and practices. TVET is recognised as important in SADC’s protocol on education and training (1997) as well as by the Education for All agenda. The benefits of TVET are known to include:

  • Economic growth and poverty alleviation
  • Facilitating the transition of young people to decent work and adulthood
  • Improving productivity
  • Helping the unemployed to find work
  • Assisting in reconstruction after conflicts and disasters
  • Promoting social inclusion.

Major concerns exist about the progress of TVET in southern Africa. SADC and UNESCO intervened by commissioning a pilot TVET monitoring tool. A regional review of TVET fed into a new strategic programme of action for regional cooperation. Although the available data presented some limitations, the report provides a foundation for future strategic interventions based on the evidence available.

The definition of TVET was a key challenge. TVET can be replaced by other concepts such as human resources development or skills development, which are seen in some contexts as being broader notions. A better inter-regional understanding of definitions is needed. A glossary of key terms and a taxonomy of how these relate to each other theoretically could feed into the theory of how their acquisition and development should be sequenced and structured.

The challenges around understanding TVET, and how it can be measured, have required a pragmatic definition of TVET to be adopted for this report that largely focuses on initial vocational education and training within dedicated provider institutions that engage with the lower and intermediate levels of national qualifications.

Merensky-Hartinger T. 2014. Greening TVET Colleges Initiative in South Africa. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Bonn.

South Africa is making policy efforts to invest in a green economy. It is hoped that the green economy will drive growth, provide jobs and ultimately reduce poverty. It has been identified as a key sector for employment creation with the potential for creating at least 300,000 additional direct jobs by 2020. Job creation is expected in the fields of natural resource management, waste management, green energy generation and energy and resource efficiency as well as emission and pollution mitigation. TVET is recognised as an important step towards sustainable development. TVET programmes must educate and train people to meet the new skills requirements arising in both the green economy as well as economic sectors which are greening. TVET must provide a skilled and capable workforce that contributes to and benefits from a growing greening economy towards the sustainable development of planet earth. TVET must provide adequate skills development to meet the requirements of a greening economy, and contributes to achieving the national and international targets of sustainable development and climate protection.

Middleton J, Ziderman A and Adams A. 1993. Skills for productivity, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

This study discusses the need for developing countries to improve economic productivity. It draws on lessons from successful country experiences with skills training to develop an approach to the development of public training policies. The authors suggest that improving the job skills of the work force in developing countries is necessary if they are to compete in today’s economic climate. The book is written for policymakers, academic and professional advisers, training professionals, and the staff of international agencies supporting economic and social development. A flexible, trained workforce can greatly improve economic efficiency and appropriate policies can greatly improve efficiency and equity of skills development. The main focus of the study is on programmes offered by private and public pre-employment vocational and technical schools and vocational training centres. The study provides options for public policy and strategies for reform.

Müller N and Behringer F. 2012. Subsidies and Levies as Policy Instruments to Encourage Employer-Provided Training. OECD Education Working Paper 80. OECD, Paris

This paper presents evidence of policy instruments intended to promote employer-provided training. This includes the stated rationale and objectives of the training, the target groups and operational design. It also presents a summary of the evaluative evidence regarding their operation. The analysis focuses on policy instruments providing financial assistance or incentives, specifically, subsidies (including tax incentives and grants) and levy schemes that devote at least some share of their resources to continuing training. Training leave regulations are considered only to the extent that they can be treated as a form of subsidy or a levy scheme, depending on the main financing mechanism involved. Instruments are only concerned with improving the quality of training or enhancing transparency in the training market are not addressed in this report. The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses (or risks and opportunities, respectively) of different types of instruments or particular elements of instrument design. It also details successful instrument design.

OECD. 2012. Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives – Highlights of the OECD Skills Strategy. OECD, Paris

Skills transform lives and drive economies. Skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies. There is evidence that countries can do better in developing and using the skills that are available to them. Building on its whole-of-government approach to policy making and its unique evidence base, the OECD has developed a global Skills Strategy that helps countries identify the strengths and weaknesses of their national skills systems, benchmark them internationally, and develop policies that can transform better skills into better jobs, economic growth and social inclusion. The Skills Strategy supports countries in adopting a systematic and comprehensive approach to skills policies that can:

  • Prioritise investment of scarce resources
  • Combine short- and long-term considerations
  • Build a case for lifelong learning
  • Foster a whole-of-government approach
  • Align the perspectives of different levels of government
  • Include all relevant stakeholders

To reach the goal of having and making the best use of a high-quality pool of skills, a country must consider three main policy levers: those that improve the quality and quantity of skills; those that activate the skills for the labour market; and those that ensure that skills are used effectively.

Olenik C. and Fawcett C. 2013. State of the field report: Examining the evidence in youth workforce development. USAID youth research, evaluation and learning project. USAID, Washington DC.

This paper provides information on the latest research and evaluation of workforce development programming for youth. While the focus is on work done in developing countries, results from a handful of particularly relevant studies in the United States are also included. The paper presents a framework for guiding the interpretation of the impact that workforce development has on youth outcomes. An analysis of the trends in the field that increase positive youth employment outcomes is also included. The latest evidence of what works in achieving these outcomes, along with a discussion of gap areas in need of further investigation is also presented.

Olenik C. and Takyi-Laryea A. 2013. State of the field report: Examining the evidence in youth education in crisis and conflict. USAID youth research, evaluation, and learning project. USAID, Washington DC.

This paper summarises evidence on youth education in crisis- and conflict-affected settings. The role of education and youth engagement in these contexts is discussed. A summary of the research available indicates that life skills training has resulted in increased self-awareness and empathy, as well as, decision making, goal setting, and communication skills for youth. It focuses on research and evaluation of workforce development programming for youth. It is focused on developing countries, but some case studies from the United States are included. A framework for guiding the interpretation of the impact that workforce development has on youth outcomes is presented. Trends in the field that increase positive youth employment outcomes are analysed. Evidence of what works in achieving positive outcomes are provided, as well as evidence gaps.

Page J. 2012. Aid, structural change and the private sector in Africa. WIDER Working Paper; 21

This paper argues that foreign aid is partly responsible for the lack of structural change in Africa. Africa’s development partners have devoted too few resources and too little attention to two critical constraints to private investment, infrastructure and skills, focusing instead on easily understood, but potentially low impact regulatory reforms. The author argues that a new aid strategy that catalyses private investment in high value added sectors, is needed. Support for strategic interventions to push non-traditional exports, support industrial agglomerations, build firm capabilities, and strengthen regional integration should anchor a new donor agenda to create good jobs and sustain growth.

Palmer R, Akabzaa R, Janjua S, King K and Noronha C. 2012. Skill acquisition and its impact upon lives and livelihoods in Ghana, India, and Pakistan. In Colclough C (ed). 2012. Education Outcomes and Poverty, A reassessment. Routledge UK

This book examines the impact of education on the lives and livelihoods of people in developing countries, particularly those living in poorer areas and from poorer households. This chapter outlines the different national contexts of skills development in India, Pakistan and Ghana. It assesses how accessible the skills systems are for the poorest members of society. The authors draw on field data to comment on the relationships between formal schooling and access to and acquisition of and utilisation of TVET. It was found that traditional gender roles limit female participation in the skills systems of all three countries analysed.

Psacharopoulos G. 1981. ‘Returns to education: an updated international comparison’, Comparative Education; 17 (3): 321 – 341.

The question of the profitability of investing in human capital remains controversial. Three main methods for estimating the rate of return to investment in education are described: the elaborate method, the earnings function method, and the short-cut method. Application of cost-benefit analysis measures in 44 countries yields four patterns that have important policy implications: (i) top priority should be given to primary education as a form of human resource investment due to high returns, both social and private; (ii) secondary and higher education should also be pursued in a programme of balanced human resource development; (iii) the larger discrepancy between the private and social returns in higher education indicates room for private finance at the university level; and (iv) falling returns to education that result as a country develops and/or the capacity of its educational system expands are minimal under time-series analysis and do not warrant abandonment of educational expansion.

Psacharopoulos G. 1985. ‘Returns to education: a further international update and implications’. Journal of Human Resources; 20 (4): 583 – 604.

This paper updates evidence on the returns to investment in education by adding estimates for new countries and refining existing estimates to bring the total number of country cases to over 60. The new cross country evidence confirms and reinforces earlier patterns, namely, that returns are highest for primary education, the general curricula, the education of women, and countries with the lowest per capita income. The findings have important implications for directing future investment in education which, for efficiency and equity purposes, should concentrate on these priority areas.

Psacharopoulos G and Loxley W. 1985. Diversified secondary education and development. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Secondary schools that offer prevocational courses in conjunction with traditional ones have flourished over the past decade in many developing countries. In fact, interest in these “diversified” schools seems to be growing because more and more governments are seeking assistance to establish diversified curricula. Although the World Bank has been investing heavily in these educational programmes, there have not been any studies on the impact of diversified education on economic development. This study was intended to begin a comparison of the advantages accruing to students and graduates of diversified schools and those with more traditional types of formal training. The report describes the research design of the two case studies in Colombia and Tanzania and discusses sampling and survey instruments as well as the results of the case studies of both countries.

Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). 2015. Tracer Study of Skills for Jobs 2012. PSDF, Pakistan

Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) commissions vocational training by engaging training service providers (TSPs) through a competitive bidding process. It designs training schemes that allow for quality and cost competition among training providers from different sectors. Skills for Job 2012 (SFJ 2012) was one of the schemes that had been designed by PSDF to expand publicly-subsided and accredited training provision. The first phase of the scheme ran from September 2012 to December 2013 and trained 18,500 individuals. In April 2015, Research Consultants (RCons), a survey firm, was commissioned by PSDF to conduct a tracer of a randomly selected female sample of 685 trainees of SFJ 2012. The trainees were interviewed in person by RCons for collection of data. The study primarily examines the labour market outcomes of the trainees under this scheme in four districts of southern Punjab, namely Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh and Lodhran. This report presents the findings of the tracer study.

Ransom B. 2010. ‘Lifelong learning in education, training and skills development’. In Barron T and Ncube J (Eds). 2010. Poverty and disability. Leonard Cheshire Disability, London.

This chapter considers the lifelong learning that people with disabilities in developing countries need to escape poverty. These include both competencies and qualifications. People with disabilities require skills to reach their potential. This potential refers to economic potential (earning a living) as well as social potential (contributing to society). Skills can be acquired in various ways through non-formal and formal channels and in a variety of settings. A number of case studies are provided.

Rubagiza J. 2010. Gender Analysis of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy in Rwanda. Forum for African women educationalists (FAWE Rwanda)

Rwanda has in recent years has made progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. 56 per cent of the parliamentarians in Rwanda are women – the highest in the world. Rwanda has managed to close the gender gap in gross and net enrolments in primary education. Despite these achievements, challenges remain. For example, it is still a challenge to achieve gender parity and equality in the TVET sector, which is characterised by gender inequalities and stereotyping. Girls and boys are channelled or channel themselves into different paths, which result in different outcomes and in particular different earnings. This report considers the 2008 TVET Policy in Rwanda from a gender perspective. It outlines gender and education related interventions for the policy with emphasis on girls and young women.

Sanchez Puerta M. 2010. Labor Market Policy Research for Developing Countries: Recent Examples from the Literature What do We Know and What should We Know? The World Bank, Washington DC.

This paper is focused on research in developing countries into labour market institutions, behaviour and policies. Theoretical and empirical implications of employment protection legislation on labour outcomes are analysed. Issues that exist around shifting from job to worker protection are discussed. Particular focus is given to the different alternatives to severance pay, including unemployment insurance and unemployment insurance savings accounts and their application to developing countries. The paper also includes an analysis of the effect of active labour market programmes, particularly of training, on labour market outcomes. Finally the causes and consequences of informality in the labour market are explored. Efforts to model the informal sector are highlighted. Evidence gaps are presented, suggesting directions for future research.

Sanchez Puerta M, Robalino D, Strokova V, Lord N and Perinet M. 2015. Skills and jobs – lessons learned and options for collaboration. World Bank, Washington DC

Knowledge and skills acquisition is central to human capital development and economic development. Workers with more education have better employment opportunities, have the potential to earn higher wages and have more stable and rewarding jobs. Skills can improve how adaptable and mobile workers are. The more skills present in an economy, the more productive other workers and capital becomes. Skills facilitate the adaptation, adoption, and ultimately invention of new technologies, leading to economic diversification, productivity growth, and raising the living standards of the population. This paper examines the different types of market failures, and subsequently reviews the role that governments have played in training systems around the world. It presents a set of proposals for reforming and improving these systems to improve labour market outcomes.

Tripney J, Hombrados J, Newman M, Hovish K, Brown C, Steinka-Fry K and Wilkey E. 2013. Post-Basic Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Interventions to Improve Employability and Employment of TVET Graduates in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review. Campbell Systematic Reviews; 9

The dramatic increase of low-income, low-skilled youth in labour markets is of concern, particularly in developing countries. In some of these countries, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. Youths are also more likely to work in the informal labour market than adults, in low quality jobs that offer limited socio-economic security, training opportunities, and working conditions. There is unlocked potential that would benefit both individuals and society. TVET is regarded as a means to expand opportunities for marginalised youth. This review systematically examines the evidence base to provide a picture of the types of TVET interventions being used to raise employment. It aims to identify TVET programmes that are effective and ineffective, and to identify areas in which more research needs to be conducted.

Tomaševski K. 2001. Removing obstacles in the way of the right to education. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Stockholm

This publication begins with the need to dismantle prevalent misconceptions because they hinder the advancement of education as a human right. Those conceptual obstacles which are particularly widespread are tackled, and their dark sides highlighted. This publication strives to provide food-for-thought because there are reasons for denying that education is a human right and these have to be brought into the open and countered effectively. Although published in 2001, this publication raises important theoretical arguments regarding access to education. In particular, the assessment of gender dimensions for access to education are relevant to this topic guide.

UNESCO. 2012. Shanghai Consensus: Recommendations of the Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training ‘Transforming TVET: Building skills for work and life’ Shanghai, People’s Republic of China 14 to 16 May 2012. UNESCO, Paris.

The 3rd UNESCO TVET Congress was held in Shanghai in May 2012. More than 500 representatives from 117 countries attended the Congress, which looked at ways of transforming TVET to make it more responsive to the needs of 21st century societies. The Shanghai Consensus details the recommendations to come out of the Congress, based on the discussions that were held on the challenges faced by TVET systems. It comments on the appropriate responses aimed at building a better understanding of the contribution of TVET to sustainable development and at defining strategic directions for cooperation among countries and with the international community to support TVET for all. The Consensus makes recommendations within the framework of the overall efforts in favour of access, inclusion and equity, education for sustainable development and a culture of peace.

UNESCO. 2014. BRICS Building Education for the Future. UNESCO, Paris

This paper reports a comparative analysis of education trends in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Collectively these countries have emerging economies and are known as BRICS. The analysis indicates that the BRICS have shared aspirations but different development trajectories. There are good opportunities for educational progression through knowledge exchange and joint activities. Following an overview of BRICS education systems, major policy issues related to quality and equity are highlighted. BRICS are seeking to sustain and widen the benefits of growth. In this context skills development and TVET are explored. TVET has been identified by all BRICS as a vital ingredient of more inclusive and sustainable development. The paper considers how BRICS are charting new approaches to international development cooperation in education. Due to the varied experiences of individual countries, there are opportunities for BRICS to cooperate in several areas of education. Collaboration could lead to enhanced quality of education data, facilitate student mobility, improve the relevance of skills training to the labour market, and deepen the knowledge base on BRICS development cooperation in education.

UNESCO. 2015. Unleashing the Potential – Transforming TVET. UNESCO, Paris

This publication takes stock of the steadily increasing demands and expectations on TVET systems around the globe and presents recent policy trends in the field of TVET. The authors provide insights into what it takes to unleash the potential of TVET systems around the world. They propose an integrated analytical approach that takes into consideration such factors as economic growth, social equity and issues related to sustainability so that TVET can contribute more effectively to contemporary policy issues such as youth unemployment, gender disparities and climate change. The book calls for a transformation of TVET systems to enable them to respond to the demands of their contexts. This transformation should enable TVET systems to acquire agility to stay current and responsive to the rapidly changing demands of the twenty-first century.

United Nations. 2014. Report of the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations General Assembly Sixty-eighth session Agenda items 14, 19 (a) and 118

This document details the report of the Open Working Group of the UN General Assembly on the SDGs. It details recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda. A total of 17 SDGs are recommended. Goal 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Target 4.4 is focused specifically on TVET, aiming to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. Target 4.7 more generally on skills, aiming to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Valiente O. 2014. ‘The OECD skills strategy and the education agenda for development’. International Journal of Educational Development; 3

There is increased recognition of the importance that skills policies need to play in the post-2015 agenda. International organisations are presenting their views on the global situation of skills and the policies that should be implemented. The article reviews the policy framework of the OECD Skills Strategy and its implications for the education and development debate in the post-2015 scenario. This strategy introduces two main innovations compared to the previous work of the OECD in education and skills. The first one is the integration of analytical contributions from the new political economy of skills in a policy framework traditionally dominated by the human capital orthodoxy. This shift has important implications for how the OECD understands the relation between education and work in capitalist societies and on the policy recommendations they make to countries. The second innovation is the extension of the geographical focus of the organisation in order to assess the situation of skills and skills policies not only in high-income countries, but also in low- and middle-income countries as well. The article argues that, despite these two salient innovations, there remain some absences and shortfalls in the policy framework of the OECD Skills Strategy that will limit its effectiveness, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

World Bank. 2010. Institutional Assessment of Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority. World Bank, Washington DC

Quality training that allows young people to find work is essential for economic and social development. This working paper assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA) as a provincial apex body in technical education and vocational training (TVET). STEVTA has reduced fragmentation of training policies and programmes. This paper assesses the STEVTA’s legal foundation, governance, management, organisation, human resources, financial resources and management, and networking with external organisations. The assessment recommends that the Government of Sindh and STEVTA need to:

  • Strengthen its governance by establishing a clearer reporting structure for the management of the authority’s director, and by increasing the involvement of the private sector in the board
  • Enhance its institutional capacity through hiring of teachers in its institutions based upon increased funding and a sustainable human resources rationalisation plan for the system that is coordinated with planned physical investments in institutions
  • Build strong operational capacity by establishing rules of business and management information systems, and drafting a strategic plan.
  • Provide continued and consistent governmental support to give STEVTA stability and funding to fulfil its mandate: employment through skills.

World Bank. a 2013. IFC jobs study – Assessing private sector contributions to job creation and poverty reduction. World Bank, Washington DC.

This report focuses on the direct and indirect effects of private sector activity on job creation. It examines the conditions under which the private sector can best contribute to job creation and poverty reduction. This report also provides estimates of the magnitude of the employment-generation effects. The private sector provides approximately 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries. It is essential to understand the constraints that private companies face in creating jobs. The public sector and development finance institutions must assist by creating an environment without obstacles that is conducive to employment and productivity. This report considers how the private sector generates jobs, what constraints limit job creation, and how these problems can be mitigated. There is a double challenge in terms of creating both quality and quantity of jobs. In 2011, there were 200 million people unemployed worldwide. As many as 600 million jobs must be created in the next decade to ensure that unemployment does not increase even further as millions of young people enter the workforce. Evidence suggests that private sector job creation can improve development and lead to poverty reduction. The public sector must provide a supporting role to provide the necessary macroeconomic environment and a supportive investment climate. To achieve this, the public sector may need support from development finance institutions, who can also work directly with private companies. Job creation, socioeconomic development, and poverty reduction are not independent. Policies focused on these themes must be integrated. Job policies should be a central part of any development policy.

World Bank. b. 2013. Jobs. World Development Report. World Bank, Washington DC.

The World Development Report 2013 focuses on jobs. Jobs stresses the role of strong private sector led growth in creating jobs and outlines how jobs that do the most for development can spur a virtuous cycle. The report finds that poverty falls as people work their way out of hardship and as jobs empower women to invest more in their children. Efficiency increases as workers get better at what they do, as more productive jobs appear, and as less productive ones disappear. Societies flourish as jobs foster diversity and provide alternatives to conflict.

World Bank. c. 2013. Strategic Reform Road-map for the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Sector in West Bengal. World Bank, Washington, DC.

The focus of this report is human development and skills development in West Bengal, in the context of economic growth. The current status of skills development are presented, along with potential ways aligning the production of skills and economic growth needs. Characteristics of the technical and vocational education and training system that produces skills are analysed in terms of their synergy with what is in demand from employers in the organised and informal sectors, governance and quality assurance systems, emerging partnerships between the government and private providers of skills, and the availability of financial resources for skills development. Primary surveys, secondary data analysis, in-depth consultations with stakeholders, and declared policy priorities provide the data upon which this report is written. A strategic framework is presented including a road-map for reforming and reorienting technical and vocational education and training in West Bengal.

World Bank. d. 2013. Post-Basic Education and Training in Rwanda: Skills Development for Dynamic Economic Growth. World Bank, Washington DC

This report details the key aspects of the Rwandan education sector. It highlights quality improvement in basic education. It takes the perspective that Rwanda’s Post-Basic Education and Training (PBET) system is main method of skilled labour force generation, helping Rwanda with the transition towards a middle-income, knowledge- and expert-based economy. PBET is defined as all formal education and training for which the entry requirement is the completion of at least basic education. The first chapter describes Rwanda’s recent growth trends, ambitions for the future, and the role that skills development must play to ensure that these ambitions can be reached. The following chapter shows an analysis of the Rwandan labour market, exploring trends in both labour supply and demand, with an emphasis on the educational attainment of the labour force. Chapter three describes the context of PBET policies and strategies and the structure of the PBET system, highlighting the key features of its various segments. The fourth chapter focuses on the governance, management, and financing of the PBET system. The final chapter describes suggested policy options that would contribute to the promotion of a well-integrated and managed system.

World Bank. 2014. Youth employment in Sub-Saharan Africa (Vol. 2). World Bank, Washington DC

Sub-Saharan Africa has just experienced one of the best decades of growth since the 1960s. Between 2000 and 2012, gross domestic product (GDP) grew more than 4.5 per cent a year on average, compared to around 2 per cent in the prior 20 years. In 2012, the region’s GDP growth was estimated at 4.7 per cent- 5.8 per cent if South Africa is excluded. About one-quarter of countries in the region grew at 7 per cent or better, and several African countries are among the fastest growing in the world. Medium-term growth prospects remain strong and should be supported by a rebounding global economy. The challenge of youth employment in Africa may appear daunting, yet Africa’s vibrant youth represent an enormous opportunity, particularly now, when populations in much of the world are aging rapidly. Youth not only need jobs, but also create them. Africa’s growing labour force can be an asset in the global marketplace. Realising this brighter vision for Africa’s future, however, will require a clearer understanding of how to benefit from this asset. Meeting the youth employment challenge in all its dimensions, demographic, economic, and social, and understanding the forces that created the challenge, can open potential pathways toward a better life for young people and better prospects for the countries where they live. The report examines obstacles faced by households and firms in meeting the youth employment challenge. It focuses primarily on productivity, in agriculture, in nonfarm household enterprises (HEs), and in the modern wage sector, because productivity is the key to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable, livelihoods. To respond to the policy makers’ dilemma, the report identifies specific areas where government intervention can reduce those obstacles to productivity for households and firms, leading to brighter employment prospects for youth, their parents, and their own children.

World Bank. 2015. The role of skills training for youth employment in Nepal: an impact evaluation of the employment fund. World Bank Group Results Series, February. World Bank, Washington DC

 The Employment Fund Project (EF) was founded in 2008 and is currently one of the largest youth training initiatives in Nepal. 15,000 youths are engaged with annually. EF competitively contracts training and employment service providers. Training courses are market-driven. Providers must complete a Rapid Market Assessment during the competitive bidding process. Services include formal technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, public and private providers, as well as skilled artisans. In 2010, in partnership with EF funders, the Adolescent Girls Employment Initiative (AGEI) was launched. The objective was to expand the programme to reach an additional 4,410 Nepali young women aged 16 to 24 over a three-year period. Evaluation of the programme indicates it had positive impacts on the following labour market outcomes:

  • Employment rates
  • Finding employment
  • Earnings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Higher Education http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/higher-education/ http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/higher-education/#respond Thu, 17 Dec 2015 08:59:20 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=topic&p=27130 Read more]]>
ForewordExecutive SummaryKey Messages1. Introduction2. About Higher Education3. Evidence of Impact4. Policy Issues5. Barriers6. Aid and the International Development Agencies7. Partnerships8. Innovations9. Conclusion10. Annexes

As the international community moves from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), higher education (HE) is more critical than ever. Addressing questions such as quality public services, sustainable agriculture, equitable distribution of resources, environmental protection and effective governance requires high-level skills, research and innovation generated at the local and national levels. National governments, bilateral and supranational agencies are now viewing HE as central to development in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), after years of relative neglect. Yet there remains the challenge of how to release the developmental potential of universities, and avoid the elite capture and disconnection from society that has characterised many of these systems in the past.

HE has undergone a period of intense massification since the Second World War, with sharply rising enrolments in high, middle and low-income countries alike. The global gross enrolment ratio has now risen to 33% – although that aggregate figure hides significant disparities, with the rate in high-income countries (HICs) at 74% and in low-income countries (LICs) at 8% (UNESCO, 2015). As has been seen at other levels of education in periods of rapid expansion, massification has placed significant pressures on the quality of HE systems and on the government funds available to support them. Furthermore, despite the increases in enrolments, there is still considerable unmet demand, on account of increases in the youth population in a number of countries, as well as the expansion of primary and secondary levels, and the perceived importance of tertiary level diplomas in the employment market.

The rapid growth of institutions and lengthening queues of prospective students have brought with them inevitable challenges. Some commentators (e.g. Carpentier 2012) have described the situation as a threefold challenge of equity, quality and funding. Despite expansion of the system, opportunities to access HE are still scarce for disadvantaged groups, particularly low-income and rural populations, and in some contexts, women and those from particular ethnic or linguistic groups face significant barriers. Quality problems in many lower-income countries express themselves in dilapidated buildings, overcrowded lecture halls and curricula out of touch with the changing societal context. In the context of budgetary constraints, funding an expanding system is an obvious challenge. Transferring the costs to students and their families has clear implications for equity, while reducing funding has a knock-on impact on quality.

Responding to these challenges in the context of globalisation, HE around the world has been characterised by trends of commercialisation and internationalisation. These trends have brought new opportunities, but have presented additional risks. In an attempt to generate new funds, public universities have been encouraged to engage in income-generating activities, and cost-sharing schemes of various forms have been set up in most countries. In addition, there has been a dramatic growth in the private sector, particularly in for-profit institutions. These private providers have provided a welcome increase in capacity, but have for the most part been inaccessible to the poor, and have uneven quality. Internationalisation has been a key driver of many universities, though the beneficial effects have largely been restricted to institutions in HICs. For many institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America, student and staff mobility, prominence in international rankings and international research collaboration are a distant dream. Developments in technology have enabled a range of new forms of distance learning, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), opening up new possibilities, although constrained by insufficient infrastructure and learner autonomy in disadvantaged regions.

This complex scenario, combined with the critical importance of HE, presents a great onus on effective policy-making. Governments and development agencies need to study closely the trajectories of universities and HE systems to formulate the most effective policies for enhancing their potential. As is the case in many areas of education, rigorous research and adequate evidence are not always available; in addition, many of the questions are ultimately of a political and moral nature, involving contested issues of public/private, fairness and conceptions of knowledge. This topic guide presents a roadmap through these questions, assessing the available research and evidence around HE systems and their impact, the effectiveness of interventions and barriers to change. Reconciling the competing demands of equity, quality and funding requires a broad understanding of these questions, and the way they manifest themselves in particular political and cultural contexts.

Dr Tristan McCowan
Reader in Education and International Development
Institute of Education, University College London

Higher Education (HE) plays a major role in building a nation’s intellectual capital required for poverty reduction, sustainable development and positive engagement in the global knowledge economy. The relative neglect of HE in many less developed countries (LDCs) and recent complex global forces have challenged the performance of HE in LMICs. National governments and international agencies are now working to increase capacity in HE so that it can better fulfil its role in national development, but this is not easy. This topic guide aims to answer the questions, how can the capacity of HE systems and structures in LMICs best be built and how can effective partnerships be generated to best support the process.

About higher education

In this topic guide, HE is defined as optional, formal education in specialised fields that is undertaken after completing secondary education and encompassing academic study and/or professional or advanced vocational training. The primary function of HE is the production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge, through teaching, research, and community engagement. The purpose of HE is traditionally viewed as an investment to build the necessary human capital for economic development but has more recently become more complex and nuanced to include the role it can play in building an inclusive and diverse knowledge society. Building the capacity of HE in LMICs must be effective to allow competition on the global stage.

Many global trends have impacted on and provided the catalyst for change in HE, generating a renewed interest from governments and donors. The economic, political and societal forces of globalisation have pushed HE towards greater international involvement. Some of the most visible aspects of this trend are student mobility with students choosing to study outside their country and pursuing global online programmes and courses. Over the past 50 years, there has been an unprecedented increase in HE enrolment (massification) due to governments wanting more university graduates to allow them to remain competitive in the expanding world economy, and individuals wanting access to HE to improve their own social mobility.

Numerous studies over the past 15 years have challenged the primary focus on basic education. HE is now receiving the attention it deserves in the role it plays in economic and social development. The lack of growth, attention and support for quality HE has impacted on the ability of higher education institutions (HEIs) to train essential officials such as teachers, economic managers and political leaders, all of whom are responsible for ensuring that certain standards of the quality of education are reached. A holistic and comprehensive approach to education that considers the interrelationships between the different levels of education is required.

Movement towards evidenced based practice (EBP) since the mid 1990s has enhanced the demand for good quality research. Governments have increasingly put pressure on educational researchers to ensure their work is relevant and useful to practitioners and on practitioners to ensure their work is based on research. Whilst educational policy and practice is evidence informed not evidence based this does not lessen the importance of the role of research in HE.

Every individual, irrespective of their socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and sexuality has a right to access HE. However, net rates of access are low in most countries, particularly in low income countries (LICs) with disadvantaged groups poorly represented and enrolment expansion largely restricted to the middle classes in urban areas. Widening participation in HE is a potentially powerful force for democratisation and social justice and many countries now have affirmative action or positive policies to address these inequalities, though with varying success. HE also has the potential to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction, state-building and peace building by connecting to a wide range of post-conflict recovery tasks; although this area is largely under-studied. This includes re-pooling human capital depleted by war and displacement, research on local social and developmental challenges, and a long-term sustainable approach to capacity building.

Evidence of impact

Empirical evidence suggests that HE can have a significant effect on the economic growth of nations. Estimates of diminishing returns to increasing levels of education were used to almost exclusively concentrate on primary education. Recent evidence, however, suggests that HE can produce economic benefits and can cause economic development (GDP per capita) arguing for the need to improve HE now to allow time for positive effects on economic development. Private benefits for individuals include better employment prospects, higher salaries, labour market flexibility and a greater ability to save and invest. These benefits can result in better health, reduced population growth and improved quality of life. Public benefits, less well studied than private benefits, also exist and include higher productivity and output per worker, higher net tax revenue and less reliance on government financial support. Moreover, HE has greater benefits than just financial rewards by manifesting entrepreneurship, job creation and good economic and political governance along with the positive impacts of research on economies.

Common to the success of good HE systems are, amongst others, the link between economic and educational planning; quality public schooling; high participation rates with institutional differentiation; labour market demand; cooperation and networks; and consensus about the importance of HE for development. Lack of clarity, co-ordination and support can undermine HE success.

The probability of working in the formal sector increases with increasing levels of education but decreases in the informal sector. Significant differences in the match between demand and supply across country labour markets exist in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. Increasing numbers of youths attaining post basic levels of education coupled with the moderate growth rate of the primary employer of graduates, the formal sector, means that young skilled workers are increasingly encountering difficulty in securing employment. The formal private sector has few opportunities for the highly educated which is a cause for concern, especially because the public sector is not likely to grow rapidly in the coming years. However, overproduction of graduates could be a good long-term investment that can contribute to future economic growth providing that the graduates are of high enough quality and entrepreneurial to start more technology-intensive firms that in turn employ more graduates.

HE can also produce non-market benefits for individuals and society. These include the formation of professionals in areas such as education, health and public administration, political participation and stability, the strengthening of governance, leadership and democracy, enabling of spaces for critique and scrutiny of government and policy, the preservation, study and development of local and national culture and heritage and health, empowerment and positively influencing attitudes and practices. However, there is limited evidence on these non-market education externalities and their indirect and delayed effects on development goals.

Policy issues 

There are many good reasons for investing in HE but there are also many policy questions and debates for national governments and international agencies to consider. Four of the major policy issues are considered: human capital flight, cost of HE, capture of HE by elite groups and the purpose of HE.

Participation in HE increases social mobility which can lead to student migration or human capital flight i.e. ‘brain drain’ through students migrating domestically to more developed areas such as cities, students failing to return home after attending scholarship programmes abroad or students educated within a country moving abroad for work. The latter is likely to increase due to a lack of suitable employment within the job market and massification at HEIs. Consequently, the number of skilled persons in public service reduces, undermining the potential for socio-economic development, technological catch-up and absorptive capacity. In addition, the limited capacity of local personnel required to implement international aid has resulted in many countries reducing aid to HE. In contrast, some consider brain drain as a ‘brain gain’ when taking into account the beneficial effects of remittances, returning migrants and the aspiration to become more educated to be able to migrate. Other evidence considers brain drain as ‘brain circulation’ as the diaspora have a readiness to impart their developed knowledge and skills to their homeland and maintain links with knowledge institutions there.

Expanding and reforming HE is costly, and more so than for lower levels of education. However, HE is not only used for teaching and learning but also includes other activities such as research, community outreach, and HEIs are linked to services such as hospitals and knowledge exchange. A direct comparison of the cost of HE to lower levels is therefore unfair. All levels of education are important and should not be traded off against each other but rather treated holistically to allow the positive mutual benefits each level gives to the others.

In most LMICs, HE programmes, especially those at the higher level with potentially the highest rate of return, and the best HEIs, capture elite groups (defined as individuals of superior status, be it economic, political, educational, ethnic or otherwise). Therefore, many question if a country that cannot provide every child with a primary education should cover almost 80 of the costs for all HE students, most of whom are elite, or if the focus should be on allocating public spending and international aid more effectively.

The high cost of HE inevitably leads to policy debates about the purpose of HE. Some argue that HE should only train future leaders and high-level professionals, and should not expand indefinitely. Whilst others think that participation in HE is a right for all and supply-led expansion may boost national productivity and development in the context of the global knowledge economy.

Barriers

HEIs face a number of barriers as they try to expand and increase their performance in response to rising social aspirations and demand for social equity, changing demographics, growing socio-economic relevance and massificaton from elite to a mass system. These include increasing the supply of HE to a growing number of students and a more diversified student body, finding additional funding, infrastructure, maintaining the quality of teaching and learning, prior preparation of students and ensuring sufficient numbers of quality academic staff.

Public funding of HE is often inefficient and insufficient. HEIs in LDCs with limited resources face the challenge of containing costs as they expand, become increasingly internationalised and meet the expectation of providing high quality education. Private provision of HE is rapidly expanding as an alternative to publically funded HEIs. Good management and governance of private HEIs is important to ensure high quality delivery while simultaneously encouraging further investment.

The formal employment sector is not able to absorb the increasing numbers of graduates due to slow growth. However, HE in LMICs is not delivering graduates with the generic skills, such as thinking and behavioural skills, and the technical skills required to address labour market and innovation requirements. This may reflect the quality of teaching and learning. Moreover, the share of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) remains too low to support much technological capability. SSA countries are being called upon to slow down the pace of expansion and shift their attention to propping up the quality of their HE systems. HE systems in LMICs are also not providing research of adequate quality to boost technological advancement in business. The interactive and reinforcing nature of under-funding, variable quality and relevance, and non-use and non-support of local research presents a bottleneck to research and research capacity development.

Despite rising enrolment in HE and the demands for social equity, certain demographic groups are poorly represented in many LMICs. There are significant barriers to accessing and remaining in HE depending on context, gender, family wealth, region of origin, race/ethnicity and disability. Lack of access to earlier education levels can also lead to inequities in access to HE. Policy makers are failing to sufficiently address the connection between education levels and the need to address inequalities early and consistently. Furthermore, equity statistics remain poor in some countries and disaggregated data is key to informing policy makers why certain groups are more vulnerable.

HEIs are often managed as disconnected individual institutions. To improve performance and outcomes, HE needs to be seen as a “system” including both institutions and the stakeholders that partner and interact with them – business, public sector, research institutes, earlier education institutions (schools) and other skill providers.

Aid and international development agencies

There is a long record of investment in HE in LDCs by international donors and agencies which has passed through a number of different phases, but remains a low proportion of total foreign aid. External investments include (a) training and scholarship programmes, (b) establishing networks and consortia and (c) building institutional capacity. With a renewed interest in HE there are indications that investment may increase but there is a lack of consensus on investment priorities. Overseas development assistance for HE continues to be spent in diverse ways, and more international donor coherence along with a holistic approach to HE is required for real impact. Increasingly, a number of universal principles have been adopted by most donors in how they work in HE for development, including demand drivenness and ownership of the South, output financing, and accountability and transparency in partner matching. A review of the evidence indicates a number of common lessons learned which should be taken into account when looking to the future. The most important is the need for more appropriate methodologies and well-managed monitoring and evaluation systems, at both programme and project levels, from which evaluations of external investments in HE can draw their data.

Partnerships

Partnership between HEIs in LMICs and other actors including HEIs in HICs, the public sector (e.g. local and national government), the private sector (e.g. business and industry) and civil society (e.g. citizens groups, NGOs, not-for-profit research institutes) range from the relatively formal public-private partnerships (PPPs) to more informal collaborative arrangements. External international agencies and donors can play a central role in the process of establishing, facilitating, funding and incentivising partnerships between HEIs and the other actors in LMICs.

Partnerships can be very beneficial but incredibly hard to deliver successfully. Although the specific challenges that occur will depend on the type of partner and partnership, the literature highlights a number of common factors that may inhibit any such partnership. These include imbalances in resources, funding to initiate but not sustain the partnership (particularly affecting teaching and learning partnerships which are not as immediately effective as research partnerships), poor monitoring and evaluation, cultural divide and a lack of confidence in the weak research capacity for input into the innovation process. A number of general principles have been identified which can help overcome these challenges and guide the development and management of future effective and sustainable partnerships for HE capacity building.

Innovations

HE in LMICs contexts needs reforming so that it can fulfil its potential in national development. How to most effectively reform HE is a debated topic and many innovations and initiatives in policy and practice have been designed and implemented. However, each innovation in policy and practice has implications which should be fully taken into account by national governments and the international development community before they are implemented. Robust empirical evidence on their impact is lacking. Evidence that is available suggests that one or two initiatives is insufficient to address the challenges facing HE in LMICs and a combination is necessary, but exactly what innovation to blend together is open to debate and will depend on the feasibility of reform and the specific country context.

Conclusion

This topic guide has illustrated that HE can make a positive contribution to national economy and society and is now high on the post 2015 development agenda. Multiple sectoral and institutional changes and reforms are required to meet the new challenges and deliver on the demands of ensuring a highly skilled workforce, a well-informed and democratic populace, sustained economic growth, and sufficient technological innovation to solve global problems such as environmental sustainability and population growth. The challenges facing and the pressures to reform HE, and lower levels of primary and secondary education, are greater and more complex for LMICs; a significant undertaking for LMIC governments.

Multilateral and bilateral donors can complement efforts of national governments in LMICs to improve HE by providing funding and educational resources or training senior HE staff on education management techniques, curricula development or governance and administration. A variety of other potential partners in the private and public sector and in civil society can also help increase the quality, relevance and effectiveness of HEIs and wider HE systems in LMICs.

  • Global forces, such as the growth of the knowledge economy and the recognition of the important role of higher education (HE) in national development has put HE systems worldwide under tremendous pressure to increase performance. HE systems in LDCs are particularly under pressure as, already at a disadvantage, they are struggling to meet the increasing demands placed on them and therefore, risk further marginalisation. Addressing the inequality within HE systems around the world and strengthening their teaching, research and system capacity to contribute to inclusive economic and social development, particularly in LMICs, are two challenges facing the international community.
  • Empirical evidence suggests that HE can have a significant and positive impact on the economic growth of nations and plays a vital role in societal development in areas such as political participation and stability, democratisation, governance, health, civic engagement, empowerment and gender parity. Together they provide a persuasive argument for national governments and international agencies to invest in HE.
  • However, doing so raises a number of policy questions, which require governments to make some strategic decisions. These include how to fund the expansion and reform of HE, whether to allocate public funding and if so, how much and how to manage the risk of lower returns through increased mobility and human capital flight. These questions are not easy to answer. They present serious issues which are difficult to address. Nevertheless, they are not insurmountable and, in the long run, investments in HE and in the whole education sector will pay off.
  • Barriers to building the capacity of HE systems in LMICs include critical shortages of quality staff, limited capacity of governance, leadership and management, inadequate financial support, issues with diversifying funding, problems with the quality and relevance of teaching and research, limited capacity for research, knowledge generation and adaptation capabilities, challenges in meeting increasing demand for equitable access and difficulties in building and retaining the human capital needed for capacity development.
  • There is a long record of various types of investments by international development agencies in HE in DCs, but there is no conclusive evidence to suggest which type of intervention is most effective. Current international donor trends continue to reflect many different approaches and priorities raising questions and concerns about donor coherence and overall sustainable impact. The evidence highlights the need for more appropriate methodologies and well managed monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems at programme and project levels, from which evaluations of external investments in HE can draw their data.
  • Partnerships between HEIs and other actors, such as industry, business, the public sector and civic society, have considerable potential for building capacity in HE and evidence shows that the international development community can play a central role in the process of establishing and maintaining such partnerships. However, there are many complex processes underpinning a HE partnership, such as cultural differences, power differentials and resource limitations and they are very hard to deliver successfully. Nevertheless, there are a number of principles that can guide the development and management of effective and sustainable partnerships but it is important to remember that not all actors are suitable as partners. Identifying the right partner and the pre-partnership process is critical.
  • There are many innovations and initiatives in policy and practice which can be used to successfully reform HE in LMICs to enhance its contribution to national development. However, how to most effectively reform HE is debated. There is a lack of robust data and evidence about how successful each of these innovations are. Nevertheless, experience suggests that an approach combining one or two initiatives is insufficient to address the challenges facing HE in LMICs and a combination is necessary. The question of which innovations should blend together is open to debate and will depend on the feasibility of reform and the specific country context.

Since the early 1990s the global community has prioritised the development of basic education. However, many recent studies have shown that higher education (HE) is a vital asset to the national and global community in the current context of the knowledge economy. HEIs are key in delivering the knowledge requirements, competencies and skills (human capital) for providing individuals with better employment prospects – higher salaries and a greater ability to save and invest. Graduates have been shown to have more positive attitudes towards democracy, human rights and protecting the natural environment, and there is increasing evidence that high levels of quality education in general and of HE in particular, are essential for the design and productive use of new technologies which provide the foundations for a nation’s innovative capacity. Moreover, access to strong HE programmes is essential for training professionals in basic education, health and a range of other key governmental and non-governmental agencies. The research and community engagement activities of universities can also have a direct impact on solving local and national development challenges. As a result, capacity building of HE has become an increasingly important focus for governments in LMICs and for multilateral and bilateral donors alike.

A number of highly complex and global forces have impacted on HE in recent years. These include globalisation, internationalisation and massification. These have been catalysts of HE reform but have also presented significant challenges to HE structures and systems in all countries but particularly in LMICs where evidence shows that the quality, relevance and effectiveness of HEIs and the wider HE system was already weak. The challenges LMICs are facing include, but are not limited to, increasing the supply of HE to a growing number of students, and a more diversified student body, increasing the labour market relevance of HE, increasing the amount, quality and relevance of research, managing a larger and more complex HE system, maintaining quality of teaching and learning, the prior preparation of students for HE and ensuring sufficient numbers of academic staff. Innovative partnerships between HEIs, national governments, the international development community and other actors in the public and private sectors have been striving to increase the performance of HE in LMICs. Such initiatives include granting more autonomy, management and academic freedom to HEIs, diversifying funding sources, building and maintaining relationships with organisations in the labour market, and supporting a more diversified and complex HE system. Even so, the data indicates there is still some way to go. Whilst there is a large body of literature on the design and implementation of such innovations and investments, robust empirical evidence on their impact and ‘what works’ seems to be lacking. Nevertheless, they do provide important lessons learned.

This topic guide aims to answer two main questions; how can the capacity of HE systems and structures in LMICs be built and; how can effective partnerships be generated to best support the process. To answer these questions, the guide presents evidence of the critical role of HE for overall national development, examines the key policy issues and barriers to building capacity in HE in low income settings and reviews the evidence from a number of different innovations that have attempted to overcome these barriers.

The majority of evidence used in this guide was based on recommendations from (and often provided by) an academic advisor with extensive experience and in depth knowledge of the issues being addressed and, through conducting previous systematic literature reviews on HE for DfID, familiar with the availability and quality of evidence available. Other literature was found using educational and organisational databases including the British Education Index, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Education Research Complete, EBSCOHost, the National Foundation of Educational Research in the UK, UNESCO and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Limits were set from 2005 to the present following guidance from DfID.

It should be noted that this topic guide is not intended to be a comprehensive ‘go to guide’ for all information and solutions for building capacity in HE in LMICs, but to introduce and provide an overview of the key issues involved and to signpost the reader to the most relevant and best sources of information and evidence available for further information and reading. A list of recommended reading for each section is provided in annex A.

This section of the topic guide summarises selected key concepts about higher education (HE). It discusses what it is, what it does, what it looks like, how it has changed in the past half century and why there is a renewed focus on it for national governments and the development community alike. In doing so, it acknowledges some of the tensions and debates about HE and seeks to bring greater conceptual clarity to these issues.

2.1       DEFINING HIGHER EDUCATION

HE can be defined as optional, formal education in specialised fields undertaken after completing secondary education. Traditionally, the term referred to academic study taking place at universities, but today it also encompasses professional or advanced vocational training at university-like institutions, colleges or professional schools attached to universities (such as nursing schools or teachers’ colleges). While some scholars and practitioners use the term interchangeably with tertiary education (TE), others consider TE to be an umbrella term encompassing both HE and further education (FE) or continuing education (CE), where the latter refers to post-secondary learning of a more technical and vocational nature. Within the context of this guide, HE refers to post-secondary education, and therefore does not include other forms of adult learning such as literacy programmes. (For more information about FE and skills training please see the HEART Skills Topic Guide).

2.2       TYPES OF HIGHER EDUCATION

According to the World Bank (2013), while universities are seen as a key part of all HE systems, globally there is a burgeoning group HEIs in addition to universities both public and private, including, but not limited to colleges, technical training institutes, community colleges, nursing schools, teacher training institutions, research laboratories, and distance learning centres. As education systems vary widely around the world, UNESCO has developed the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) to facilitate cross-country comparison, collaboration, and analysis. Annex B provides a detailed description of ISCED 2011.

2.3       FUNCTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

The primary function of HE is the production, distribution, and consumption of knowledge, through teaching, research, and community engagement. The types of knowledge generated, the beneficiaries of that knowledge, and how that knowledge is used have changed over time (Marginson, 2011). Prior to 1945, the main aim of HE was seen to be to better the mind of the elite and to facilitate scholarly discussion and breed debate of a theoretical and abstract nature (Himanka, 2015Kruse, 2006). Key economists in the 1950s and 1960s theorised that people could be ‘invested in’ to build human capital and that their economic success depended on rates of return to their stock of this capital. HE was seen as a way to build the necessary human capital for successful development, and thus funds were invested in manpower planning/forecasting directed at those considered the ‘brightest and best’. Today, while some scholars continue to highlight HEs’ importance for economic success, discussions about its purpose(s) have become more complex and nuanced to include the role it can play in building an inclusive and diverse knowledge society (UNESCO, 2009). Annex C details the functions of HE as set out in the landmark World Declaration on Higher Education (1998) (UNESCO, 1998).

2.4       GLOBAL TRENDS IMPACTING HIGHER EDUCATION

Altbach et al. (2009) believe that an ‘academic revolution’ has taken place in HE in the past half a century involving significant and complex changes. Many of these changes are a result of global trends and forces, which have impacted on HE. These have provided the catalysts for the reform of HE and have generated a renewed interest in it. Although several of these trends are inter-related, in this section they are presented separately for clarity.

2.4.1      The growth of the knowledge economy

The ‘third industrial revolution’ in the 1990s led to the formation of a knowledge economy where cognitive resources were at the centre of human activity and social dynamics (Meek et al., 2009) and in which growth was dependent on the quantity, quality, and accessibility of the information available, rather than the means of production. This led to a new focus on technology, which can ensure information is more readily available and can simplify communication and collaboration. The growth of the knowledge economy has had important implications for HE. As society has become more knowledge-based, HE has increasingly been drawn into the making and advancement of ‘knowledge nations’ (Schreuder, 2013) as one of its main functions is to generate quality research, knowledge and originality. In other words, as governments have come to realise the primacy of knowledge they have simultaneously come to realise that HE is the key driver in providing the knowledge, using the growing stock of global knowledge, assimilating and adapting it to local needs (Schreuder, 2013), crafting new technology and creating a skilled population that can use this knowledge and advance further knowledge, innovation and creativity (UNESCO, 2009).

Although the increased importance of knowledge provides great potential for countries to strengthen their economic and social development it also raises the danger of a growing ‘knowledge divide’ (Meek et al., 2009) between MDCs, who are currently generating most of this knowledge, and LDCs, many of which are failing to tap into the vast and growing stock of knowledge because of their limited awareness, poor economic incentive regimes, larger informal sector, weak institutions (including HEIs) and a lack of ICT that can facilitate the effective communication, dissemination and processing of information. Combined with trade policy liberalisation, the knowledge revolution is leading to greater globalisation and increased international competition, which is eroding the natural resource and low labour cost advantage of most LDCs (Meek et al., 2009).

2.4.2      Globalisation and internationalisation

Globalisation and internationalisation are related concepts but are not the same. Globalisation can be defined as the economic, political and societal forces pushing HE towards greater international involvement. Internationalisation includes the policies and practices undertaken by academic institutions to cope with the increased global academic environment (Altbach and Knight, 2007). HEIs have always been, to some extent, international (Schreuder, 2013Altbach and de Wit, 2015) but in the last few decades it has become more central on the agenda (de Wit, 2011). Some motivations for internationalisation include commercial advantage, knowledge and language acquisition and enhancing the curriculum. Specific internationalisation initiatives comprise of branch campuses, cross border collaborative arrangements, establishing English medium programmes, setting up degrees on international issues such as global and multicultural studies, peace education and offering global online programmes and courses, etc (de Wit, 2011). One of the most visible aspects of this trend is increased student mobility with many students choosing to study outside their country. International students have become big business in some cases (Altbach and Knight, 2007).

2.4.3      Massification

Over the past 50 years, there has been an unprecedented increase in HE enrolment globally. Recent figures demonstrate that expansion continues today: according to the World Bank World Development Indicators, gross enrolment ratios[1] for HE programmes at Bachelors levels and above have risen from 24.1% in 2005 to 32.9% in 2013. The pressure for expansion has come both from above and below. From above, governments have felt the need for more university graduates to allow them to remain competitive in the expanding global knowledge economy, and, from below, individuals around the world have insisted on access to HE in order to improve their own social mobility (Wallerstein, 2012). There have been greater numbers of young people eligible to participate in HE as a result of the expansion of basic education, increased enrolment and completion rates following programmes to achieve education for all (EFA). Although the question whether HE is a ‘universal right’ that should be made available to all is hotly debated (McCowan, 2012), moving from elite to mass HE is considered important to attain objectives of poverty reduction and increased national development and therefore, is unlikely to change.

2.4.4      The connection to socio-economic development

According to Colclough et al. (2009), during the 1980s, economists studying the impact of different levels of education in DCs (mostly for the World Bank) concluded that the rate of return to primary level was higher than for secondary and higher levels of education. This led to the theory of diminishing returns to education. The findings also suggested that the benefits of HE after secondary school proved substantially higher for the individual than the state. Such research was very influential in determining national and international development agendas and encouraged a focus on basic education. The World Conference on Education for All held in 1990, privileged basic education over other sectors of education, and the Millennium Development Goals set targets for universal primary education (UPE) to be reached by 2015. Numerous studies conducted in the past 15 years have challenged many of the conclusions drawn by the World Bank. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for example, released a report in 2008, which argued that HE is a vital asset to the global community as it encourages social and economic development through the strengthening of a population’s knowledge bases, the creation of human capital and the application and dissemination of such knowledge (Santiago et al., 2008). Such studies generated a renewed interest in the role of HE for national development. Researchers also started to pay attention to the non-economic benefits of HE (McMahon, 2009) developing a much broader understanding of how human capital can build domestic capabilities. Such researchers argued that HE has a key role to play in benefitting the public as a whole by enabling individuals to contribute to others and future generations beyond their own personal interests (Boni, and Walker, (eds.) 2013Pillay, 2011Bloom et al., 2006). Psacharapoulos (2006) provides a simple diagrammatic classification of the public, private, market and non-market benefits of HE. This is presented in annex D.

2.4.5      The interrelationship with other levels of education

A discouraging and growing cycle of educational failures in basic education programmes in DCs were found to be, in part, caused by a lack of growth within HE. Researchers have increasingly argued that without access to strong HE programmes, the inability to train essential officials such as teachers, economic managers and political leaders, all of whom are responsible for ensuring that certain standards of the quality of basic education are reached, will persist and continue to present a barrier to the achievement of quality basic education. For example, quality in basic education cannot be achieved without quality pre-service teacher training programmes which take place at HE level. As a result, it has become more and more apparent that what is required in today’s knowledge society is a holistic, comprehensive, nuanced approach to education that considers the interrelationships between the different levels of education and does not neglect HE. The World Bank (2013) and other multilateral and bilateral donors and international development agencies have acknowledged this and have made a commitment to promote and support HE initiatives.

2.4.6      The movement towards evidence based practice (in education and in development)

HE is viewed as not only vital for improving the quality and relevance of basic education through supplying qualified and skilled personnel but also by providing the evidence about ‘what works’ in bringing about worthwhile educational improvement and national development. While HE has always had a research function, the recent movement towards EBP in education since the mid-1990s has enhanced the demand for good quality research with governments increasingly putting pressure on educational researchers to ensure their work is relevant and useful to practitioners and on practitioners to ensure their work is based on robust evidence (research). Although many educationalists argue that the potential of educational research is to say simply and with certainty what works, it is limited due to the complexity, instability, values and uncertainty inherent in education which are located within the broader context of other social relationships, culture, values and purposes (Myhill and Jones, 2007) in general, most agree that research can empower policy makers and practitioners to make informed decisions about appropriate courses of action in particular circumstances. In this sense, educational policy and practice is evidence informed not evidence based (Munn, 2008McIntyre, 2005). Nevertheless this does not diminish the importance of research and the role of the HE system in producing it, especially in resource poor or fragile states. Such countries, faced with huge educational challenges and limited resources, do not have the luxury to waste them on something that does not work or to conduct blue sky research or research for theoretical purposes alone.

The link between research and policy in the area of human development is also of increasing interest and with its research and development function, HE is also now thought to play a vital role in giving operational effect to a joined-up, evidence-based development approach, in a way which puts peoples’ needs first, and which has poverty alleviation – and beyond that, poverty eradication – as its overarching goal (McEvoy, 2010).

2.4.7      Demands for equity and social justice

In postmodern discourse, the politics of difference along with ideas of diversity and plurality being a resource rather than a deficiency were prominent and led to demands for equal rights, social justice and equity by various marginalised groups such as women and disabled people. Despite some progress, there remains considerable inequity, especially in DCs and people’s access to and interaction with key institutions, including HEIs, which continue to be shaped by power imbalances in the political, economic and social spheres resulting in inequality between demographic groups and geographical regions and chronic poverty passed between generations. The need for social equity to achieve poverty reduction for sustainable development has been recognised by the international community, but recent decades have seen rising inequality and inequities, which are in turn partly responsible for the world ‘lagging behind’ on headline goals such as the MDGs. This development strategy nevertheless, has impacted on HE, which has the potential to contribute to social justice by importing equity agendas through the composition of its staff and student populations and exporting it by striving to achieve it across the rest of society (Brennan and Naidoo, 2008). Therefore, whereas HE was once the sphere of the elites, it is mostly now seen as being accessible to a substantial part of the age group (Beerkens-Soo and Vossensteyn, 2009) with the SDG for HE establishing that right.

2.4.8      Peace building and reconstruction

Conflict and fragility present some of the most urgent challenges facing the developing world. They present threats to regional and global security and are major obstacles to poverty reduction and the achievement of the MDGs (DfID, 2010) and SDGs. Therefore, many donors have been scaling up their work in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS). This has also contributed to renewed interest in HE as HE has the potential to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction, state-building and peace building. In post-conflict contexts HE can connect to a wide range of post-conflict recovery tasks, including re-pooling human capital depleted by war and displacement, research on local social and developmental challenges, and a long-term sustainable approach to capacity building (Milton, 2013). In spite of an increasing global recognition of the importance of HE in FCAS and a growing number of projects aimed at increasing HE capacity, the evidence base on the effectiveness of HE interventions and policies in these settings is weak and there is a need for greater sharing of knowledge on HE in post-conflict contexts (Milton, 2013).

2.5       IMPLICATIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

Given that HE is now widely seen as a ‘silver bullet’ for policy makers to fire at a range of targets, including the creation of more and better jobs and job-seekers, the promotion of social equity, cohesion and a culture of peace, and the enhancement of global competitiveness, creativity, and innovation (Finegold, 2006), the global HE system is under more pressure than ever. The pressure is particularly significant for HE in LMICs. Inequality among national HE systems and within countries has increased in the past several decades (Unterhalter and Carpentier, 2010) and HEIs in most LMICs are already at a significant disadvantage in their ability to create, absorb and use knowledge. The massification of the system is an aggravating factor and means LMICs risk further marginalisation in the future as they simultaneously try to expand their HE system whilst improving quality all within continuing budget constraints. In fact, if the means of implementation (MOI) target for the Sustainable Development Goal on Education to make more scholarships for students from LMICs to pursue HE in other countries by 2020 is reached without an adequate investment in HEI development in these LMICs, this increased marginalisation is almost a certainty, particularly given that there is no mention of capacity strengthening for HEIs in LMICs. As Unterhalter and Carpentier (2010) state, HE is both a potential source of and solution to inequalities which confront LMICs. The challenge the international community is faced with is twofold: addressing the inequality within HE systems around the world and strengthening their capacity to contribute to inclusive economic and social development.

2.6       MEASURING EFFECTIVE HIGHER EDUCATION

But what does an effective HEI system for the national development in a global knowledge economy context look like? Although there is no single blueprint for the best or most effective HE systems, structures or policies (Meek et al., 2009) and there is some considerable debate about what makes a ‘world-class university’ (Salmi, 2009), there are a number of ranking systems, which attempt to measure the world’s HEIs according to their performance. There are clear methodological issues with all of the systems and they largely favour HEIs that use English as the main medium of instruction, offer a large array of disciplines and programmes, and have substantial research funds from governments Altbach et al. (2009). However, as these rankings are widely used and increasingly influential, two of the most prominent are briefly discussed in this topic guide. The QS World University Rankings ranks universities according to six performance indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio, research citations per paper, proportion of international faculty and proportion of international students. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings uses 13 performance indicators to judge universities across their core missions of teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. Both of these rankings rely heavily on surveys of academics, suggesting that well-known universities are predisposed to do well. Regardless of quality, many universities in LMICs have little chance in even making the list, lacking the resources to promote their ‘brand’ and build reputation in an increasingly competitive world. According to Badat (2010), there is little to no value in these global rankings because they are incapable of capturing the meaning of the diverse qualities of a university.

Recently, a new, more progressive ranking system has emerged called the Universitas 21 ranking. This system assesses national HE systems, as opposed to individual institutions, against four dimensions – resources, environment, connectivity and outputs. While HICs are still likely to be ranked more highly, these rankings might prove useful for LMICs attempting to understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. In fact, the report includes an analysis where results are adjusted according to different levels of development. Such data could prove valuable for planning, by providing a more nuanced, comprehensive picture of the HE system that goes beyond resources and brand recognition.

The previous section introduced the theory of a relationship, but what does the best available evidence say? This section summarises the empirical evidence on the returns to investments in higher education (HE) and national development and briefly discusses how robust the evidence is. The section is divided into two parts. The first part examines the evidence relating to the economic (or market) benefits of HE and the second to the societal (or non-market) benefits.

3.1.      THE MARKET BENEFITS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Conventionally the contribution of education to economic development is analysed in terms of the relationship between the level of education and earnings and also in the form of rates of return[2] (available estimates on the social and private rates of return to investment in primary education are the highest, followed by secondary education). Returns to HE are the least. Such evidence was extensively used to discourage public investment in HE and to concentrate almost exclusively on primary education in the 1980s and 1990s. Recent evidence, however, suggests that HE can produce both social and private benefits. Estimates of regional average social and private rates of return are shown in the table below. Although there are variations in the rates of return between several countries, generally they show that investment in HE yields positive rates of return to the individual (19%) and society (10%) (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos, 2002).

Returns to HE

Region Social (%) Private (%)
Asia* 11.0 18.2
Europe/Middle East/North Africa* 9.9 18.8
Latin America/Caribbean 12.3 19.5
OECD 8.5 11.6
Sub-Saharan Africa 11.3 27.8
World average 10.3 19.0

*Non-OECD. Source: Psacharopoulos & Patrinos 2002

The contribution of HE to economic development can also be measured with a simple regression equation. Using data from 49 countries in the Asia Pacific region, Tilak (2003) found a significant effect of HE (gross enrolment ratio and HE attainment) on the level of economic development (as measured by GDP per capita). Tilak (2003) pre-empted the argument that there only exists a correlation between the two by allowing a time lag for HE to cause economic development (GDP per capita from 1999 was regressed on the enrolment ratio around 1990). This suggests that action to improve HE needs to be taken now to allow time for its effect on economic development. Also, there are very few countries with higher levels of HE being economically underdeveloped, while all the economically rich countries have not necessarily advanced in the development and spread of HE.

Tilak (2003) also showed that the proportion of the adult population with HE (a measure of the stock of human capital) is an important indicator of the level of development. This ‘stock’ indicator represents the cumulative efforts of a country in the development of HE over the years. The larger the stock of the adult population with higher levels of education, the higher the potential for economic growth Tilak (2003). India’s rise onto the world economic stage is attributed by some to its decades-long successful efforts to provide high-quality, technically orientated HE to a significant number of its citizens Bloom et al. (2006). Research by Bloom et al. (2006) supports the idea that expanding HE may promote faster technological catch-up and improve a country’s ability to maximise its economic output. Results show that SSAs current production level is about 23% below its production possibility frontier. A one-year increase in the HE stock would raise the growth rate of GDP per capita by 0.24 percentage points and African output growth by an added 0.39 percentage points in the first year. This implies that a one-year increase in HE stock may boost incomes by roughly 3 per cent after 5 years and ultimately by 12% Bloom et al. (2006).

The private market benefits for individuals include better employment prospects, higher salaries, labour market flexibility and a greater ability to save and invest Psacharapoulos (2006). Public benefits, although less well studied, also exist and include higher productivity and output per worker, higher net tax revenue and less reliance on government financial support Psacharapoulos (2006). Rates of return focusing solely on the private and public financial rewards fail to encompass the broader benefits of HE manifested through entrepreneurship, job creation and good economic and political governance along with the positive impacts of research on economies Pillay (2011).

The complex relationships in economic development with a focus on the context in which universities operate (political and socio-economic), the internal structure and dynamics of the universities themselves, and the interaction between national and institutional contexts have recently been studied. Initially a review of the international literature on the relationship between HE and economic development was conducted by Pillay (2011). This was followed by the study of three successful systems – Finland, South Korea and the North Carolina state in the US – that have harnessed HE in their economic development initiatives to distil implications for African countries (Pillay, 2010). Common to the success of all these systems is, amongst others, the link between economic and educational planning; quality public schooling; high tertiary participation rates with institutional differentiation; labour market demand; cooperation and networks; and consensus about the importance of HE for education and development. Finally the key findings of eight African countries and universities – Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda – were analysed and discussed (Cloete et. al., 2011). The following three main conclusions were drawn:

  • There was a lack of clarity and agreement (pact) about a development model and the role of HE in economic development, at both national and university levels, in all eight cases. There was, however, an increasing awareness, particularly at government level, of the importance of universities in the global context of the knowledge economy.
  • Research production at the eight African universities was not strong enough to enable them to build on their traditional undergraduate teaching roles and make a sustained contribution to development via new knowledge production. A number of the universities had manageable student–staff ratios and adequately qualified staff, but inadequate funds for staff to engage in research. In addition, the incentive regimes did not support knowledge production.
  • In none of the countries in the sample was there a coordinated effort between government, external stakeholders and the university to systematically strengthen the contribution that the university can make to development. While at each of the universities there were exemplary development projects that connected strongly to external stakeholders and strengthened the academic core, the challenge remains how to increase the number of these projects.

3.1.2      Linking higher education to the labour market

More-developed SSA economies have better-educated workforces (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012). There is a positive statistical relationship between the share of the working-age population that has attended upper secondary or HE and the per capita GDP across the 23 SSA countries (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012 Figure 7.6). Although GDP per capita alone explains only 44% of the variance in educational attainment.

The probability of working in the formal sector increases with increasing levels of education, almost 80% of those with HE work in the formal sector, whilst the probability of working in the informal sector decreases with increasing levels of education (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012 Figure 7.8). Significant differences in the match between demand and supply across country labour markets exist in the SSA region. For example, unemployment among 25- to 34-year-olds with HE varies between 1% in Lesotho and 48% in Mali. In this age cohort unemployment is less than 10% in nine of 23 SSA countries but exceeds 20% in nine other countries (Majgaard and Mingat, Table 7.5).

Increasing numbers of youths attaining post basic levels of education coupled with the moderate pace of growth of formal sector employment means that young skilled workers are likely to encounter increasing difficulty in securing employment in the formal sector in the near future than in the past. With older generations of workers already well entrenched in the labour market and likely to hold on to their formal sector jobs until retirement, the prospects of formal sector employment are not particularly bright for young skilled workers (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012).

The formal private sector has few opportunities for the highly educated which is a cause for concern, especially because the public sector is not likely to grow rapidly in the coming years (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012). There is a potential for productivity increasing through an upgrading of skill profiles among workers, but because the formal private sector is growing only at the same rate as the labour force, its absorptive capacity will be limited. Producing more HE graduates than the labour market can absorb, at first sight, appears to make little economic sense, particularly when HE is largely subsidised by public funds. Nevertheless, a certain level of overproduction may be a good long-term investment that can contribute to future economic growth if the graduates are of high quality. The infusion of higher-skilled and entrepreneurial workers could induce new starts of more technology-intensive firms that in turn employ more graduates (The World Bank, 2010). In countries where many skilled workers emigrate, universities may need to train extra workers to meet domestic demand. Emigration of skilled workers is not necessarily a long-term loss to the country because many remit their earnings to the home country. In this context, skilled workers may even be considered an export from the home country. However, if most recent graduates cannot find gainful employment or cannot find jobs that match their skills, it may be an indication that the education system needs some form of rebalancing, such as shifting its emphasis on quantity to an emphasis on quality.

3.2.      THE NON MARKET BENEFITS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

HE is central to crucial societal tasks, including the formation of professionals in areas such as education, health and public administration, political participation, the strengthening of governance and democracy, enabling of spaces for critique and scrutiny of government and policy, the preservation, study and development of local and national culture and heritage, and health. Although there has been substantial interest in HE economic role, there has been only limited acknowledgment within the empirical literature of these non-market education externalities and their indirect and delayed effects on development goals (McMahon, 2009, McMahon, 2004). This is largely because they are more difficult to understand and to quantify. Nevertheless, some evidence is obtainable from both developed and developing country contexts and this is summarised in the table on the next page.[3]

 

IMPACT A SAMPLE OF THE EVIDENCE
HE is related to positive overall human development. Studies by Tilak (2003) and Cloete et al. (2011) found that the higher the level of education in a population, the higher the level of overall human development, especially in terms of life expectancy and GDP per capita.
HE has a positive effect on political stability and democratisation. In a survey of current third-year students in Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania, Luescher-Mamashela et al. (2011) found that HE can enhance democratic attitudes and behaviours. A report from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2013) also found that HE has a positive effect on democratisation and political stability as graduates are more likely to vote and participate politically. Gaining a degree was found to be a powerful antidote to political cynicism.
HE can support positive developmental leadership and good governance Research supported by the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) illuminated unmistakeable links between HE and developmental leadership in Ghana, Somaliland, and Mauritius (DLPROG) (Jones, Jones and Ndaruhutse, 2014). The in-depth case study of Ghana by Jones, Jones and Ndaruhutse (2014) found that quality senior secondary and HE were critically important factors in forming leaders with the skills, values and networks needed to achieve major democratic, economic and media reforms.
HE can positively impact attitudes and practices. An OECD (2010) study found that higher levels of education impacted positively on various citizenship dimensions, especially in terms of positive attitudes towards immigration. The marginal effect of HE on holding a positive valuation was a 41% compared to only 18% for SE. Findings from a study by Truex (2011) in Nepal show that improving access to HE can reduce the presence of corruption norms and practices.
HE promotes greater social capital A survey in the USA revealed that, with respect to the number of hours volunteered for community service, within each education group, 22% of those with some post-secondary education give their time to community service activities compared to only 12% of those with only a SE (National Center for Education Statistics, 1995). Bynner and Egerton (2001) using the National Child Development Study in the UK also found a link between HE and participation in community affairs, democratic processes, egalitarian attitudes, parenting and voluntary work.
HE build human capital HE provides skilled professionals for important public services such as education and healthcare (Tikak, 2003). In this sense, HE has a ‘’dual effect’’ (Oketch et al., 2014) it not only enhances the capabilities of the individual but also the general population through the subsequent work of the graduates
HE positively influences health.

 

Numerous studies have consistently shown that HE graduates are less likely to smoke, less likely to drink excessively, less likely to be obese, more likely to engage in preventive care, have better mental and general health, lower fertility rates and better nutrition habits (Tilak, 2003UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 2013; OECD,  2010Oketch et al., 2014). HE has also been strongly linked to lower rates of HIV/AIDS across the African region (Giyimah-Brempong, 2010).
HE can empower individuals and groups Malik and Courtney’s (2011) study in Pakistan proved that participation in HE can open up new options for women as individuals and lead towards significant changes in the direction of greater gender parity. In Eritrea, access to university was found to improve the freedom of women through greater capacity to earn, the avoidance of restrictive marriages and a better choice of future life with regards to career, travel and further study (Müller, 2004).

3.3       ABOUT THE EVIDENCE

Basic education has been prioritised by the global community since early 1990s because it was considered to be the bedrock of all education and national development. This was difficult to argue against because of the paucity of empirical evidence about the benefits of HE. However, recent studies, many referenced in this topic guide, have shown that HE is a vital asset to the national and global community as it can promote social and economic development through the strengthening of a populations’ knowledge base, the formation of human capital and the application and dissemination of such knowledge. Nevertheless, whilst HE in developing nations across the world provide a range of positive benefits to individuals and society, both in terms of economic growth and broader capabilities, a report by Oketch et al. (2014) found that in many cases these benefits are currently underestimated. One of the main issues encountered is that whilst there is a large number of innovations and interventions to improve HE for national development, the vast majority of studies investigating interventions focus exclusively on intended outcomes, rather than seeking to capture any wider development impact. Moreover, the actual benefits are currently limited in magnitude as HE is being constrained by a range of limiting factors. These are discussed in detail in the next two sections of this guide.

[1] The total enrolment in tertiary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the total population of the five-year age group following on from secondary school leaving

[2] A summary statistic of the relationship between lifetime earnings and the costs of education

[3] The evidence provided is a small representative sample of that available demonstrating the non-market impacts of and was selected as it was considered robust, covered the key issues and is also available as an open access source. Other sources of evidence of the non-market impact of HE can be found in the reference section.

Previous sections of this topic guide have highlighted the many positive individual and societal benefits of higher education (HE) and have provided a powerful argument for expanding and increasing investment in HE systems in LMICs. Nevertheless, although there is a strong rationale for investing in HE, attempting to do so raises many policy questions and debates for national governments and international agencies to consider. This section briefly examines four of the major policy issues and presents some of the different points of view expressed in the debate. It is acknowledged that this is not an exhaustive list.

4.1       HUMAN CAPITAL FLIGHT

There is strong evidence that participation in HE increases social mobility as it confers to an individual an advantage based on their level of qualification relative to others. This increased social mobility can have negative consequences for LMICs as it allows for increased student migration or Human Capital Flight (often referred to as ‘brain drain’). This is the emigration of highly trained or qualified people from a particular country (or region in a country) to another. For LMICs, the brain drain occurs in two ways. The first is when students are sent overseas (or to another area) to study, often on scholarship programmes, and fail to return. The second is when students are educated within the country and then move overseas for work as often as there are limited opportunities in the domestic labour market. Unfortunately, as a result of massification, this second phenomenon is likely to intensify. The number of highly educated individuals will increase and competition within the job market at the higher levels will grow. Furthermore, as individuals reach HE goals, they will become reluctant to work at a lower tech or a lower paying job.

Brain drain reduces the number of skilled persons in public service and actually undermines their potential for socio-economic development, technological catch-up and absorptive capacity. According to the African Capacity Building Foundation, African countries lose 20,000 skilled personnel to the developed world every year. This means there are 20,000 fewer people in Africa to deliver key public services, drive economic growth, and articulate calls for greater democracy and development (Sriskandarajah, 2005). It also means that international efforts to increase aid to these countries may have less impact as the local personnel required to implement them are absent. This has led to many countries reducing aid to HE (Varghese, 2010). It should be noted that brain drain can also happen domestically with students often migrating to more developed areas, such as cities.

Some argue that brain drain is not a major problem and can actually end up as a ‘brain gain’ as the brain drain hypothesis fails to account for the effects of remittances, the beneficial effects of returning migrants, and for the possibility that being able to migrate to greener pastures induces people to pursue education. Once these factors are taken into account, the migration of highly skilled people becomes a net benefit to the countries they leave (Stark and Fan, 2007Schiff, 2005) There is some recent evidence from Ghana to support this theory (Nyarko, 2011). Others contend that it could be seen as a ‘brain circulation’ as empirical studies have shown that the diaspora has highly developed skills from their overseas study and a readiness to impart knowledge to their homeland and maintain links with knowledge institutions there (Mohamoud, 2005). Mechanisms need to be found to use the intellectual capital of the diaspora for development at home such as the CODESRIA initiative (see section 8).

4.2       THE COST OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Other critical policy issues facing governments are financial. These include how to pay for the costs of expanding and reforming HE; how much public funding should be used and should funds be reallocated from other sectors or lower levels of education. The costs of HE per student are high, much higher than for both primary and secondary students. According to UIS (2011) in 2009 most countries in SSA spent at least 10 times more on a HE student than on a PE pupil. Spending (US$) per student in Uganda on HE was 14.8 times more than on PE and in Rwanda it was 27.5 times higher. On average, eight out of every $10 spent on university education in Africa is subsidised by country governments (Ibid.). With looming population growth and limited public spending, many governments in LMICs have to make strategic decisions on how to budget for education. Many question whether any country that cannot provide every child with a primary education should be covering almost 80% of the costs for HE students and should fund the expansion of HE at all. Some argue that it is better to keep funds directed at the lower levels of education as this can stimulate more household spending for HE without threatening the growth of the HE sector. UIS (2011) highlights the recent experience of Burundi which brought the number of out-of-school children down from 723,000 in 1999 to just 10,000 in 2009. Over the same period it increased its investment in education from 3.2% of GDP to 8.3%. But what made the real difference was the decision to dedicate a much larger chunk of the budget to primary education, effectively moving public money away from secondary schools and universities. For more statistics on education spending by sub sector in LMICs visit UNESCO.

It should be noted that expenditure on HE is not only used for teaching and learning but includes a wide range of activities including research, community outreach and linked HE ‘schools’ such as hospitals and knowledge exchange activities. It is therefore, unwise to directly compare HE spending with both primary and secondary education because their functions and needs are very different. Most LMICs already have a significant proportion of their HE funding coming from private sources, even in public universities, but as private funding alone can lead to distortions in course distribution and severe inequities (as it does not allow for the affirmative action policies that can address such issues) (Altbach et al., 2009), many argue that it is important to continue to allocate public funding to HE and in fact the task for international agencies should be to bolster public spending on HE, and then ensure it is allocated effectively, rather than advocate for its reduction. The argument that public funds should be transferred from HE to primary education was put forward in 1980s and 1990s and led to huge reduction in public spending on HE in Africa. It is now clear that this was to the detriment of long term development and innovation, economic growth, and the viability of the whole education system in these countries and this policy should not be continued.

4.3       CAPTURE OF HE BY ELITE GROUPS

The amount of public money spent on HE also raises questions of equity. In most LMICs, HE programmes and particularly those at the higher levels, with potentially the highest rates of return and the best HEIs, are usually captured by elite groups (defined as individuals of superior status be it economic, political, educational, ethnic or otherwise). This phenomenon is described in detail in annex E. Therefore, the policy question becomes, whether a country that cannot provide every child with a primary education should cover almost 80% of the costs for HE students, who tend to come from wealthier or more privileged backgrounds.

There are many strategies both at policy and practice levels which can and have been successfully employed to promote equity in access to and completion of HE for disadvantaged populations. Some HE systems in LMICs have reconciled these tensions through stratification (by maintaining a small elite core of high-quality universities, but supplementing it with a demand-absorbing lower quality sector) and others by implementing affirmative action, targeted scholarships, and sensitisation campaigns or by establishing separate courses, classes or even HEIs and catch up courses. Many of these with examples are presented in section 8 of this topic guide.

4.5       THE PURPOSE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Due to the high costs, expanding HE is inevitably linked to broader policy debates about the purpose of HE within a society and what its role is in enhancing national socio-economic development. Governments need to develop a shared vision about HE (World Bank, 2000). Some argue that HE should only be a training ground for future leaders and high-level professionals, not an experience that can and should be available to all citizens. They argue that the expansion of HE systems can and should not continue indefinitely and that there should only be as many places as there are subsequent jobs for graduates.

Conversely, there is an argument that governments and international agencies should continue to invest in expanding and reforming HE, as participation in HE is a right and should be accessible to a large percentage of the population. This is especially the case given that supply-led expansion might boost national productivity and development in the context of the global knowledge economy as highlighted in sections 2 and 3 of this guide.

4.6       CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

These policy questions about expanding and investing in HE cannot be ignored and are not easily reconciled. They present serious issues for governments and international agencies alike and have (successfully) been used in the past to justify the under investment, degradation and decimation of the HE sub sector by governments and donors alike in many LMICs prior to 1998. However, most international agencies (including the World Bank and DfID) have now realised that it is not a wise course of action to reduce funds for HE in LMICs, as it leaves them without the intellectual capital required for poverty reduction and sustainable development and they will lonely fall further and further behind more MDCs.

Moreover, it should not be a case of putting one level of education in opposition to another or prioritising one over another. All levels are important. Recent experience has shown that good quality basic education is not possible if there is not good quality HE. However, there is not good quality HE without good quality basic education. Therefore, it is necessary to provide strong holistic support across all levels of education. What is required is a systemic view of the education sector.

Investments in HE will ultimately pay off and the positive benefits will outweigh or even eliminate the potentially negative ones. For example, providing good quality domestic undergraduate and postgraduate education is one way to alleviate the brain drain as it will mean that going abroad is an option and not the only way to get a good quality degree (Costin, 2015). The first African Higher Education Summit on “Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future”, held in Dakar, Senegal from 10-12 March, 2015 concluded that investing in HE is the best way to build a strong state economy and that countries need a confident ‘bold, long term vision’.

As a result of decades of under investment, little higher education (HE) infrastructure currently exists in most DCs and where it does, capacity is generally weak. There is a clear need for reform to increase performance and improve results in order for HE to enlarge its contribution to sustainable development. Whilst many LMICs are attempting to do this, their governments cannot easily access the expertise or resources needed to commit to the necessary reform and there are many complex and daunting obstacles standing in the way of developing robust, high quality and effective systems of HE. The reforms needed and barriers to implementing these reforms are outlined in this section along with a brief introduction to the pathways in overcoming these obstacles.

CHALLENGES FOR HE BARRIERS IN LMIC CONTEXTS  PATHWAYS FOR REFORM
5.1. Provide mass HE to all citizens:

The growing demand for HE requires a balanced growth on the supply side of staff (academic and administrative) and facilities (including infrastructure)

Increasing the supply of HE in LMICs is hampered by many factors. The increasing demand for HE has not been accompanied by corresponding funding (World Bank, 2010van Deuren, 2013) so there are inadequate resources to invest in institutions, infrastructure and facilities (Johnstone, 2011).64 There are also challenges in finding qualified academic staff due to competition from the labour market. Graduates, especially with higher degrees, are also in demand by the private sector and the government (Ashcroft and Rayner, 2011)65 where salaries tend to be higher. In many LMICs a number of new providers (including private for-profit institutions) have emerged to meet the demand for HE but in several countries, this increase has coincided with a relaxing of state regulation with implications for quality and effectiveness of such institutions. Increasing the supply of HE in LMICs requires increased funding and a more innovative approach. Berkeens-Soo (2009) argues that increasing the supply of HE cannot be achieved by simply expanding the existing elite HE system but requires efforts in both ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ diversity. However, this presents challenges in acquiring the necessary finance (see 4.9) and managing a complex and diversified system (4.10). Others contend that meeting increased demand can be achieved through innovative delivery modes such as the use of ICT (USAID, 2014).
5.2 Be globally competitive:

The internationalisation and the subsequent commercialisation of HE around the world has meant that HEIs in LMICs are in competition with those in HIC.

 

 

In the context of rising demand, the lack of capacity and existing weaknesses in many HE systems in LMICs means that countless HEIs are now at crisis point. This has opened the doors to an influx of foreign entities looking to offer academic programmes to students in DCs. Although there are some benefits to this, as Naidoo (2007) points out, foreign providers are often exempt from domestic regulations and may view these international programmes as money making schemes, focusing on scale and cost effectiveness rather than on quality or relevance and so deliver ‘’off the shelf’’ products, with poor pedagogy and assessment that are unsuitable for the local context. It may also mean that national public universities may lose income, and the necessary support for HE capacity building may not be forthcoming (Ibid.). The internationalisation of HE has also caused internal ‘brain drain’ concerns, as international branch campuses often recruit qualified faculty members from existing public institutions (Schendel and McCowan, 2015). Altbach and Knight (2007) believe LMICs are currently at crossroads and need to take measures to ensure international programmes and practices benefit the public and are not just a profit making centre. Naidoo (2007) agrees and suggests LMICs implement regulatory frameworks which require HEIs to respond to local needs in an international context and which contribute to the public good.
5.3 Adapt learning to the knowledge age:

In line with the demands of the global knowledge economy, HE is expected to impart to students the skills, knowledge and dispositions related to innovation and the ability to learn how to learn (life-long learning)

Transforming ways of teaching and learning presents a challenge to HE systems in DCs which generally have outdated, irrelevant and knowledge based curricula, which fail to transfer up to date knowledge and skills and which are delivered through traditional pedagogical approaches with learning assessed through summative knowledge based recall tests (van Deuren, 2013Wang, 2012). As a result, employer surveys report that in LMICs HE graduates are weak in problem solving, business understanding, using a computer and teamwork skills (The World Bank, 2009). There is a need for HEIs to build and maintain relationships with organisations in the labour market to develop updated competency based curricula reflecting their needs and including new forms of teaching and learning aimed at training professional skills and attitudes (The World Bank, 2003) (see 5.4). By raising the level and quality of HE, LMICs may be able to stimulate innovation, promote the diversification of products and services, and maximise returns from capital assets through more efficient allocation and management (The World Bank, 2009).
5.4 Increase labour market relevance:

The increased relevance of HE for economic development urges the need for graduates qualified for the new type of labour market.

Rapid expansion in HE, coupled with moderate growth in suitable employment opportunities, has resulted in considerable unemployment among recent university graduates in a number of LMICs. Most of these countries suffer from slow growth of the formal sector, which is traditionally the employer of first resort among highly skilled workers. The relatively faster growing informal sector, on the other hand, cannot effectively absorb the rapidly growing numbers of HE graduates (Majgaard and Mingat, 2012). This is compounded by the mismatch between the supply and demand of graduates. In many LMICs there is an uneven distribution of students across disciplines. SARUA (2012) reports that in the Africa region, registrations for the study of humanities and social sciences are high whereas those for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) along with business, management and other commercial fields remain low in most LMICs. In East Asia, LMICs also have an uneven distribution of HE students across disciplines. In Cambodia, for example, whereas around 58% of HE students are enrolled in social sciences, business and law, approximately 10% are studying science and 15% engineering and manufacturing (Di Gropello et al., 2011). Whilst some argue that HE should continue to support a wide diversity of disciplines to nurture all of the competencies necessary for a well-functioning society (Smith, 2014) others suggest that enrolment quotas and/or providing scholarships for particular disciplines should be set up in an attempt to incentivise the study of such subjects (Altbach et al., 2009). Others suggest that HE systems in LMICs in particular should engage in and strengthen entrepreneurship education in order for HE to contribute to economic development (Ibid.).
5.5 Provide high academic quality and capacity It is a challenge for LMICs to transform the ways of learning and assessment in HEIs as the academic capacity is already low. Under investment and limited funding have restricted institutional ability to hire additional lecturers to cope with the rising student numbers, which has resulted in large class sizes at many institutions. Limited funding has also led to a rapid decline in the wages of academics. As a result, many faculty members find supplementary jobs, which limit their time for teaching, mentoring and research and others opt to leave the sector altogether in search of more highly paid positions (Holm, 2012). The lack of postgraduate programmes in many contexts, as well as a decline in the prestige of the profession, has also left very few new faculty members in the “pipeline” (Tettey, 2010Tilak, 2013). As a result, the majority of university teaching staff worldwide now have only a bachelor’s level degree (Altbach et al., 2009). In addition to these human resource implications, declining funding has curtailed the ability of institutions to invest in their infrastructure or maintain their libraries. More and better qualified academic staff is needed but there are problems in recruiting and retaining them (see 4.12). Furthermore, academic staff at HEIs need to be given the time and attention to engage in continuing professional development so they themselves can learn and use new skills and forms of teaching and assessment as included in a new curricula. The World Bank (2009) calls on LICs to slow down the pace of expansion and shift their attention to propping up the quality of their HE systems, but this is a challenge in view of rising demand (4.1) and international competition (4.2).
5.6 Generate effective and relevant research:

In the current knowledge economy, a priority of many governments is to make sure that their top HEIs are operating at the cutting edge of intellectual and scientific research and development.

HE systems play a critical role in training the professionals, scientists and researchers needed by the economy and generating new knowledge in support of the national innovation system (Di Gropello et al., 2011), however, international rankings and research output indicate that HE systems in LMICs are not providing research of adequate quality to boost technological advancement in business. Exploring the challenges involved in setting up globally competitive universities in African countries, Salmi (2011) found that conditions for research have been severely compromised by poor remuneration, heavy teaching loads, the inability to mentor young faculty, and inadequate infrastructure. The interactive and reinforcing nature of under-funding, variable quality and relevance, and nonuse and nonsupport of local research presents a bottleneck to research and research capacity development (Van Deuren, 2013). Van Deuren (2013:11) provides four pre-requisites for strengthening HE research output and relevance in LMICs. These include (1) better qualified staff (2) a stronger relationship between teaching and research (3) availability of adequate infrastructure and supportive funding and (4) building university – industry linkages. However, achieving all of these present challenges in themselves as indicated by other sections of this chart.
5.7 Provide a more equitable HE system:

The need for social equity to achieve poverty reduction for sustainable development has increasingly been recognised and HE systems are now required to supply education to a greater mix of students than in the past

Despite rising enrolment in HE and the demands for social justice, equity concerns are still prevalent across LMICs and access to HE is often restricted to a small proportion of the population (often referred to as elites) leaving certain demographic groups poorly represented. Context, gender, family wealth, region of origin, race/ethnicity and disability can be significant barriers to access. These are largely related to issues of the quality of earlier schooling, funding mechanisms and institutional admissions policies. It is not only a case of equal access to HE in general for underserved populations but equal access to the same kinds of institutions and HE programmes as students from the elite groups, and an equal chance to complete HE. Annex E examines these issues in more detail. Patterns of inequity are not easily erased and require aggressive policies which are well thought through and designed (Di Gropello et al., 2011). It also requires the collection and analysis of more high quality, disaggregated data so that policymakers are well informed about why certain groups are more vulnerable than others and what can be done about it (ibid.).
5.8 Educate a more diversified student body:

Massification, internationalisation and the demand for social justice has led to a more diversified student body, including students from diverse demographic sub groups and international and part time students, and it is expected that the student population will become more varied (Altbach et al. (2009).

 

 

Increased access to a more diversified student body has created additional challenges for HE systems in LMICs as new groups of school leavers entering HE are often not well prepared for study at this level (Johnstone, 2011). The lack of readiness is the result of limited academic opportunities originating at earlier levels of education. Historically, underserved populations access lower quality primary and especially secondary education and this has been found to be a stronger predictor of HE quality and completion than a student’s socioeconomic status. The lack of preparation negatively affects both access and completion. In terms of access, successful performance in HE entrance examinations is linked to prior academic experience. For example, in Vietnam, students from disadvantaged groups score lower marks on the National University Entrance Examination (without this being related to ability) and are less likely to enrol in high-quality HEIs (World Bank, 2011). Annex E provides more detail on the issue of completion. HE expansion needs to be linked to efficiency improvements in primary and in particular secondary education and in the transition from secondary to HE. The World Bank (2010) suggests that to promote the inclusiveness of HE, governments in LMICs need to fully understand the interrelationship between education levels and adopt a comprehensive vision of the sector as a whole. Within HEIs, different forms of teaching and support mechanisms may be required to increase completion rates but this will either require new and different academic staff or increase the burden on existing staff (Ashcroft and Rayner, 2011).
5.9 Increase funding:

Expanding demand and enrolment along with the acknowledged need for quality improvement of HE systems in LMICs requires additional budgets and adequate financing.

 

 

Financing the expansion, diversification and quality improvement of HE system presents many challenges for LMICs, which already struggle to provide even the most basic of resources to all its citizens. According to Johnstone (2013) the worldwide costs of HE are high and are increasing at rates greater than prevailing rates of inflation and government revenues in most countries. With surging HE costs and enrolment growing more rapidly than financial capabilities, public funding is not sufficient to meet demand. Increasing constraints on public spending has also led to debates about the legitimacy of any public subsidies or financial support for HE which can be seen as a ‘luxury’ (Schendel and McCowan, 2015) as it seems to bring more private than public benefits (Marginson, 2011) and those public benefits may be lost through human capital flight (Kapur and Crowley, 2008). This has put pressure on governments to minimise public support for HE and, as a result, expenditure per student in HE has declined at the same time that student numbers have increased (The World Bank, 2010). This has had an adverse impact on quality including faculty staff retention. In response to these financial pressures a number of solutions are suggested at policy and practice levels for both the cost and revenue side. These include sharing costs among all stakeholders – students, taxpayers, parents and future employers (Altbach et al., 2009).
5.10 Transform governance structures at the systems level:

As demand for HE continues to grow and governments acknowledge the role of HE in promoting development, it is important to ensure that the system is managed in an effective way.

In the past, HE systems in most LMICs have had highly centralised legal frameworks. However, this can make it difficult for HEIs to be responsive to changes in the labour market and limit their contribution to economic and social development (USAID, 2014). Therefore many countries now recognise the need to change to new forms of governance. This presents a challenge in terms of what model of management to implement. Whereas central control system limits flexibility, loose oversight can lead to low quality education with minimal return on the investments for students and the public (Susanti, 2010). Moreover, as HE systems are becoming more complex with different types of institutions, including many private ones, pursuing different goals and student bodies, and managing and monitoring the sector is more demanding and requires more specialisation, which puts pressure on government staff in LMICs. Management and governance of private HEIs is particularly challenging and is discussed in more detail in annex G. It is generally recognised that the state is not the best arbiter of how HEIs should operate and the management of complex academic communities cannot be done effectively by remote civil servants (Fielden, 2008). Therefore, LMICs should (and have) moved away from a central control model to an advisory or supervisory model where the state regulates and monitors the HE system. There are however, many different models, which could be adopted, depending on need and context. These are discussed in section 7.
5.11 Transform governance and management at the institutional level:

The growing trend of autonomy and accountability of HE systems in LMIC has introduced new tasks for HEIs, which require new ways of working, planning, budgeting, decision making and monitoring.

Strong leadership and effective institutional management are critical to the quality and effectiveness of HEIs especially in an autonomous system. Unfortunately, due to the limited authority given to institutions in the past, most HEIs in LMICs suffer from poor, inefficient and highly bureaucratic systems with poorly trained and qualified personnel and inefficient, ineffective and outdated management and administration infrastructure (USAID, 2014). This makes performing the new tasks very challenging. As institutions acquire greater autonomy, there is a clear need to strengthen the leadership and management skills of senior HEI leaders and administrators. Leadership capacity building needs to focus on developing the qualities relevant to the new challenges facing HE, including those similar to a CEO, as HEIs are now similar to major enterprises in a competitive global market (Di Gropello et al., 2011).
5.12 Increase the supply of human capital:

A critical goal of HE in LMIC contexts is to increase the supply of human capital to contribute to national socio-economic development.

 

Increasing the supply of human capital relevant for national development is a challenge for LDCs countries when the best of the human capital leaves, or migrates, to other countries. This ‘human capital flight or ‘brain drain’ is often a consequence of increased social mobility acquired through participation in HE, combined with a lack of employment opportunities and poor salaries in home countries. The opportunities for migration have increased as a result of globalisation and the internationalisation of HE. Most papers acknowledge the need for policies and practices to be adopted by both destination countries and countries of origin. Kapur and Crowley (2008) examine a variety of options and argue that the first and foremost priority to stem the brain drain is ensuring security and political stability but where that is not a major issue, reforming HE is crucial to retaining talent.

The international community can play an important role in supporting HE reform in LMICs. This section briefly reviews the landscape of interactions between international players and HE systems in LMICs. It highlights the international development community’s initiatives and learning in supporting higher education (HE) in DCs to become both locally relevant and centrally placed to contribute meaningfully to sustainable national development. The section focuses primarily on the role of the international bilateral donor.

6.1       INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO HIGHER EDUCATION

Between 2002 and 2013, the more developed nations (MDCs) invested an estimated US$42.6 billion into the growth of HE programmes within LDCs. While this figure alone appears overwhelming in size, it should be looked at in light of the US$1.6 trillion in total overseas development assistance (ODA) these developed nations invested during the same time period.[1] In this sense, by 2013, the US$42.6 accounted for only 2.7% of the overall international development budget. With a renewed interest in HE there are indications that this figure will begin to increase. However, this raises the question of how international agencies can best invest their ODA in HE.

6.2       TRENDS IN ODA TO HIGHER EDUCATION

There is a long history of investment in HE in LMICs by external and international development agencies made as a contribution to international development. A rapid review of this history by Varghese (2010) highlights the different phases and trends since the 1950s.

1950s-1960s Initially assistance to HE was used primarily to provide graduate training in donor countries. Later it was used to establish new HEIs in recipient countries with over 200 being built during the decade by various international donors.
1970s-1980s Assistance to HE declined due to the results of rate of return studies, which showed lower returns to investment in HE in comparison with primary levels. Fears over the brain drain, structural adjustment and capture of HE by elite groups also contributed to the neglect.
1990s External donors adopted a unified approach for primary education and education for all (EFA). HE was on the agenda but not high up.
2000s The rapid progress towards EFA and an increasing demand for skilled labour contributed to an expansion of education at all levels. Other studies emerged, such as the OECD 2008 report (Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society) which argued that HE is a vital asset to the global community and for national development. Many donors are now following a dual track of investing in primary and post-secondary education with a renewed emphasis on investing in HE.

6.3       A TYPOLOGY OF ODA TO HIGHER EDUCATION

In a review of evaluations of external investments in HE, Creed et al. (2012) identify a typology of investments and assesses the impact of three distinct types. A brief explanation of each with a discussion of the evidence of impact found in the literature with links to specific examples is provided below.

i. Education and training

Intervention – Providing professional training for individual students or staff from LIMCs. Includes scholarship or fellowship programmes.
Evidence of impact or otherwise – Awards can act as a catalyst for development and the benefits of a single scholarship can reach many people (Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom, 2009). Evidence indicates a high rate of completion with many alumni applying what they have learned by training others or supervising PhDs (Creed et al., 2012Kottmann and Enders, 2011). There is mixed evidence of a brain drain as a result of these programmes.  Some studies indicate that participants in programmes ‘don’t come back’ whereas others indicate over 80% return. It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of such programmes only through complex tracer studies (Boeren, 2012).
Examples – USAID’s merit-based scholarship programme for Pakistani nationals to pursue master’s degrees in education at universities in the United States (MESP). The DANIDA Fellowships programme (dfcentre).

ii. Consortia and networks

Intervention – Linking individuals and/or departments in HEIs in HICs with individuals and departments in HEIs in LIMCs.
Evidence of impact or otherwise – Evidence from evaluations shows programmes have resulted in a significant transfer of knowledge, research knowledge and skills to DCs have generated a lot of good will resulting in sustainable partnerships and a shift towards home grown, new local level courses, doctoral programmes, leadership and skills in competitive funding proposals (Creed et al., 2012Africa Unit, 2010). There are many risks and challenges to establishing effective consortia and networks across HEIs. These include power, resource imbalances and cultural differences (Africa Unit, 2010AAU, 2012). These are discussed in detail in the next section of this topic guide.
Examples – DelPHE (2006-13) with funding from DfID and its predecessors, aimed to promote partnerships between universities and other HEIs working on collaborative activity linked to the MDGs (DELPHE). CIDA University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program (UPCDP) (UPCDP).

iii. Institutional development

Intervention – There is evidence of successful capacity building especially in policy, infrastructure, academic support systems (e.g. ICT, library, QA) and raising research capacity (Creed et al., 2012).
Evidence of impact or otherwise – Requires long term approaches and commitments (Creed et al., 2012), the disadvantage is that sustainability is not treated as urgently as in other projects and poor institutions may not be stimulated to look for alternative sources of funding (Sida, 2006). Requires long term approaches and commitments (Creed et al., 2012), the disadvantage is that sustainability is not treated as urgently as in other projects and poor institutions may not be stimulated to look for alternative sources of funding(Sida, 2006).
Examples – The US$ 90 million external multi-donor support to University of Makerere in Uganda for the development of new research strategies and directions and strengthening graduate training and management.

 

6.4       CURRENT TRENDS AND PRIORITIES

The SDGs for education includes a target to ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university. On the point of global commitment to these goals there is a change in attitude to HE across the international donor community. Between 2013 and 2014 the UK Department for International Development (DfID) established a HE taskforce, launched a comprehensive literature review on the impact of tertiary education on development and co-hosted a retreat conference. USAID has also positioned HE and workforce development as one of its four education priorities, and launched a statement indicating that 2015-16 will see a funding priority for work in this area.

While there appears to be a common appreciation of the need for HE for development in LMICs there is less consensus on what the investment priorities in HE should be. Besides DfID, a number of other influential bi-lateral donors prioritise support for HE and a quick review of their approaches indicates that ODA for HE will continue to be spent in diverse ways.

NORAD: HE and research are priority areas for Norway’s development cooperation policy. The NORHED programme intends to strengthen the institutional capacity and performance of HEIs in LMICs to deliver quality education and research. This includes capacity development within system development, administration and infrastructure, with particular attention to gender balance considerations. NORHED announced in 2013 that it will fund 46 joint projects between HEIs in DCs and Norway, mostly in eastern parts of Africa. The bulk of the funding will go to institutions in Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, and Tanzania (NORAD).

USAID: Goal 2 of the current USAID Education Strategy is improved ability of tertiary and workforce development programmes and the agency has a substantial HE portfolio. USAID supports programmes that increase access to vocational/technical/HE and training for underserved and disadvantaged populations, improves the quality of HE and research in support of country development priorities and improves the relevance and quality of workforce development programmes. USAID has a substantial scholarship programme (USAID).

SIDA: SIDA provides funding to develop facilities and human capacities to encourage research and teaching in universities. The primary objective of the IHERD programme is to increase the policy relevance of research and to promote evidence-based policy making in HE, research and innovation for development. This will be achieved through stimulating a shift in the research agenda by reviewing existing research, by commissioning new research and by fostering links with leading researchers and research institutions in the IHERD field. SIDA support to the University of Dar Es Salaam is a good example of such a programme (SIDA).

JICA: JICA works with Japanese universities to provide support to universities in LMICs specifically selected on account of leading the HE sector in their respective country and region. JICA support aims to improve education and research capabilities through the improvement of teacher quality; facilities, research materials and equipment; the strengthening of university management systems; the promotion of industry-university-community cooperation; and the construction of university networks. Support is mainly provided to engineering, agriculture, and public health sectors. JICA focuses support to the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (JICA).

DANIDA: The Danish Building Stronger Universities in LDCs initiative aims to develop long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships between universities and research institutions in LDCs and Denmark (DANIDA).

AFD: French support for HE has increased in the recent past and is devoted mostly to helping universities in Francophone Africa to restructure their staff qualifications to meet international standards. It also tries to build science and technology capacities in the region. A large share (nearly 50%) of the aid is spent on scholarships for postgraduate students in France. Recent French initiatives include support to the International Institute of Engineering Water and Environment (2IE) in Burkina Faso, AFP, and the creation of the National College of Tourism, Tanzania.

Others: It is not only bilateral donors that support HE for development in LMICs. In 2000, four US based foundations collaborated to establish the ‘Partnerships for Higher Education in Africa’ (PHEA) contributing more than US$ 150 million to support capacity development. Annex H provides a detailed account of the PHEA approach, accomplishments and lessons learned.

6.5       CRITIQUES OF CURRENT TRENDS AND PRIORITIES

In his review of aid to HE, globally, Varghese (2010) provides a critique of current development assistance to HE. He argues that international aid to HE is concentrated on only a few countries, is fragmented, spread too thinly and too often utilised at the institutional level to support selected faculties, centres or areas within a department. This, he concludes, is why international development assistance has not made as significant contribution to the overall improvement of the institution or achieved any visible impact on the sector as a whole. McEvoy (2013) agrees that more international donor coherence along with a holistic approach to HE is required to have real impact. He points to the significance of the EFA declaration which gave expression to the consensus of the international community on the importance of basic education and triggered an annual peer review process, which resulted in some commendable progress (particularly in increasing enrolment).

Others contend that international donor programmes in HE are focussed too much on academic cooperation based on mutual interest rather than being geared towards the institutional development of HE and the broader development objectives agreed by the entire donor community such as the MDGs, SDGs and poverty reduction strategy papers. Bursary or fellowship programmes for example are often seen as more of a benefit to the donor country as having home educated graduates around the globe is one of the greatest forms of soft power a country can have. Some question whether support to HE in this form can really be considered as aid (Is it Aid?).

Some Commonalities: Despite these differences in what they do, increasingly, a number of universal principles have been adopted by most donors in how they work in HE for development and these are already addressing some of the above-mentioned critiques. These are highlighted in a worthy review of issues and trends in international development HE programmes by Boeren (2012) and include, among others, demand drivenness and ownership of the South, output financing, accountability and transparency in partner matching.

6.6       LOOKING BACK TO LOOK FORWARD

The decades of international assistance to HE have generated a number of other lessons learned about effective interventions, which should help in looking forward. The following are some of the more notable indicated in a review of the literature: 

LOOKING BACK   LOOKING FORWARD
Reviews and evaluations of HE development programmes by Creed et al. (2012)Oketch et al. (2014) and Clifford (2013) found it very difficult to draw any broad conclusion about the effectiveness of different types of HE interventions for development or what makes for a good intervention under the different types identified. This was mainly because there was all too often a lack of well managed monitoring and evaluation systems, at both programme and project levels, from which evaluations of external investments in HE draw their data. As knowledge generated from M&E is necessary to demonstrate the performance of programmes, to steer implementation towards the intended result and for informing future investments, it should be taken seriously right from the design stage of any education sector investment in HE. Different types of intervention will have different conditions for success and this will involve different types of M&E and impact assessments.
A review of HE programmes in Africa by USAID (2014) found that reforming institutions and strengthening institutional performance is one of the most challenging aspects in development and can lead to a ‘capability trap’ where countries or institutions mimic best practice but are actually ‘all show and little real action’, and this is one of the biggest causes of implementation failure. It is possible to create the right conditions and incentives to build institutional capacity with external assistance (financial and/or technical) but to do so requires careful thought and attention to the role of external assistance and a focus on how to approach HE capacity strengthening, rather than on what should be invested in. Development advisors and consultants from international agencies should avoid recommending best practice mechanisms that cannot possibly work in the setting they are proposed for and stop insisting that countries making changes run before they can walk (Pritchett, et. al., 2010)
Drawing from Mozambique’s experience with international aid to HE for the purpose of capacity building in teaching and learning, Chilundo (2006) found that the main weakness in most programmes leading to implementation failure was a lack of local ownership and input. It is important to formally involve all stakeholders (government, civil society, national and international partners and HEIs) and engage in constant dialogue with national stakeholders and international partners, as only this can lead to the successful design and implementation of international aid.

[1] Information taken from the Borgen Project; http://borgenproject.org/foreign-aid-higher-education/ with data from OECD (2012)

It has been increasingly acknowledged that partnerships with ‘other actors’ in the public and private sector can improve the quality and relevance of education, including higher education (HE). This section reviews the evidence available on what types of partners and innovative partnerships could support capacity building initiatives in HE in LMICs. It also briefly examines the role that the international development community can play in establishing and maintaining such partnerships. As partnerships for development in HE are not easy, the section ends by discussing some of the main challenges partners might face and some potential strategies to overcome them.

7.1       A DEFINITION

The concept of partnership can mean several things to individuals and institutions as well as in different cultural contexts. Perhaps the most appropriate description of an effective educational partnership in HE for the purpose of this guide is provided by the Africa Unit (2010: 20).

An effective educational partnership is a dynamic collaborative process that brings mutual though not necessarily symmetrical benefits to the parties engaged in the partnership. Partners share ownership of the projects. Their relationship is based on respect, trust, transparency and reciprocity. They understand each other’s cultural and working environment. Decisions are taken jointly after real negotiations take place between the partners. Each partner is open and clear about what they are bringing to the partnership and what their expectations are from it. Successful partnerships tend to change and evolve over time.

7.2       THE ‘OTHER’ ACTORS

Potential partners for HEIs are presented in the table below.

POTENTIAL PARTNER MOTIVATIONS FOR HE MOTIVATIONS FOR PARTNER EXAMPLE OF PARTNERSHIP
Higher education institutions

(e.g. HEIs in developed or HICs with HEIs in less developed or LMICs)

(In LDCs) Provide staff with opportunities for professional development; promote internationalisation; institutional capacity building; help to attract more funds; and receive assistance in the achievement of national development goals Africa Unit (2010). (In DCs) For internationalisation: to create opportunities for staff to work in new and different socio-political and cultural environments giving a competitive advantage in what is becoming an increasingly global market for HE (ibid.) For development: to develop the capacity of HEIs in LMICs to accelerate poverty reduction in their local, regional and national context and promote sustainable development (British Council, 2015). The partnership between University of Bradford, UK and University of Jos, Nigeria (annex I). The Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) is a partnership created in 1999 with 208 members from 78 countries to strengthen the role of HE in society.
The public sector

(e.g. local and national government)

HEIs can increase their service to society by influencing policy and practice through research, consultancies and secondments. Working with the public sector can increase research funding available for disciplines in relevant areas such as education, environmental protection and health; this can contribute to improving the relevance and practical teaching of HE subjects including initial teacher training, medicine, nursing and law. Knowledge production and transmission are vital for a modern society and receive a lot of attention from policy makers, especially in light of budget constraints that are pushing governments to reduce public spending and increase efficiency of public policies and service. National and local governments can use the results of research conducted by HEIs to improve efficiency in public services in areas such as education and health and for wider civic benefit. HEIs are often internationally wired and have global connections, which can be harnessed for civic benefit. HEIs can also be important to the local economy (Local Government Association, 2013). It is difficult to provide a specific example of how HE research has improved policy and practice in the public sector as there is no direct linear relationship between research and practice and research and policy. The processes by which research findings are transformed into practice are subtle, difficult to trace and often take a long time so the link is not always made (Nutley et al., 2007). However, other kinds of partnerships, such as consultancies or secondments, have provided more tangible benefits. The East African School of Library and Information Science (EASLIS) has implemented knowledge transfer of information management practices through its internship programme since 2006 (Magara et al., 2011).
Private Sector

e.g. business, industry

The private sector can provide HE with additional resources such as providing internship positions for students; making their staff available for guest lectures, bringing their expertise to universities; working together with HE to establish standards to inform the curriculum and educational experience of students in relevant fields; be supportive in the creation, support, and staffing of research laboratories through gifts, donations, and research funding; provide facilities and services and increase the relevance of HE (Creso, 2013). HE can provide skills and knowledge to the private sector such as giving technical assistance to local firms; can ensure that graduates have the skills and knowledge required to effectively contribute to the workforce; support faculty to engage in consulting and commercialisation activities and conduct research relevant to business and industry (Ibid.) The Corporate Graduate Link (CoGL) at the University of Zambia. (UNZA)
Civil Society

e.g. citizens groups, associations, NGOs, not-for-profit research institutes and independent

think-tanks (as actors of civil society)

Civil society participation deepens the contributions of HEIs to human and social development through their research and teaching functions. It can contribute to the relevant and practical teaching of HE subjects particularly in the social sciences and on issues such as gender sustainability, peace and global citizenship, climate change, human rights, democratisation, governance and transparency; it can increase research funding available for social and human disciplines in relevant areas. HE can contribute to the local and international social and global human development agenda by bringing research expertise to generate practical and useful knowledge through its research and service functions. HE students often volunteer for local community charity work in areas such as conservation, helping the elderly, organising recycling, supporting people with disabilities and working with children. Kenyatta University’s, Kenya Community Outreach and Extension Program (COEP). (COEP)

 

7.3       TYPES OF PARTNERSHIPS

There are a variety of partnerships for capacity building in HE, ranging from the relatively formal public-private partnerships (PPPs) to more informal collaborative arrangements. The former type is generally characterised by relatively clear commitments by the participants, stipulated in binding legal contracts. The latter include, among others, more open-ended processes in which the participants engage in dialogue and negotiation.

7.4       THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

External international agencies and donors can play a central role in the process of establishing partnerships between HEIs and the other actors in LMICs. They can act as a facilitator, provider of funding and incentives to develop and encourage HE partnerships and even be a critical source of ‘how to’. The USAID funded HELM project, for example, organised a workshop for participants from HE institutions across Indonesia, entitled “Building a Market Strategy for Higher Education Institution’s Products and Services,” in order to strengthen their capacity to build mutually beneficial partnerships and do business with the private sector (HELM). The Educational Partnership in Africa (EPA), funded by the UK government to help African universities improve entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and enhance graduate employability, facilitated a partnership between Ho Polytechnic in Ghana and the City College Brighton and Hove to improve the matching of engineering graduates with the modern workplace (EPA). DFAT Australia currently partners with the Asia Pacific Technical College and private sector in Papua New Guinea to address the nation’s need for skills development and increase in post-secondary education (DFAT in PNG). In fact, a review of case studies of effective university-industry partnerships in Africa by Cresno (2013: 33)98 found that ‘’almost every successful example identified by informants include one or more of these entities [international cooperation and aid agencies] as a partner.’’

7.5       ISSUES IN DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING A PARTNERSHIP

An analysis of the definition of partnerships provided above suggests there are many complex processes underpinning them and although they can be very beneficial, the evidence indicates that partnerships for development are very hard to deliver successfully. Although the specific challenges will depend on the type of partner and partnership, the literature highlights a number of common factors that can inhibit any partnership. It is important that donor agencies anticipate some of these issues in order to pre-empt them. A number of principles which emerge from lessons learned from both successful and unsuccessful models along with findings from key empirical studies, can guide the development and management of sustainable partnerships for HE capacity building. Common challenges and potential resolutions are presented in the table below.

CHALLENGES POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Cultural differences A number of studies reviewing partnerships in HE found that one of the most complex challenges in establishing and maintaining a partnerships is brought about by difference in missions and visions, constituencies, demands and ways of working between HEIs and partners which makes it difficult to agree and harness their respective requirements for working effectively with each other. This can even occur between educational institutions which operate in different education and socio-cultural contexts (Africa Unit, 2010AAU, 2012Latham, 2009Tandon, 2007). To alleviate the challenge presented by cultural differences, the Africa Unit (2010) stresses the importance of engaging in a thorough pre partnership process including identifying the needs and motivations for a partnership from the outset and the need for partners to understand each other’s cultural and working environment. Other studies suggest that successful cooperation requires the selection of the right partner in the first place (Boereni, 2000).
Sustainability issues Empirical research conducted by the British Council (2015a) to review UK – Africa partnership schemes, found that many were unsustainable because of the project-oriented short term nature of the partnership and funding scheme. Once funding ended, so did the partnership. This was found to particularly affect teaching and learning partnerships compared to research partnerships. An empirical study by Boeren (2000)[1] which examined the sustainability of Dutch support to HE capacity building in LMCs provides a list of nine major requirements and conditions for sustainable partnerships. Prominent among these is the need to re-orient partnerships from project based to product focussed. In this way partnerships will be more flexible and dynamic, rather than time bound.
Lack of resources Other challenges include the lack of necessary resources to carry out the partnership. The Africa Unit (2010), in examining partnerships between UK and African HEIs, found that “time”’ to carry out all the activities was the major challenge (Latham, 2009). The costs of contracting with other actors, especially the private sector, were often found to be high when compared to the scope and size of the benefits of the partnership programme. The British Council (2015a) study found that in order to ensure the long term sustainability of partnerships the time scale and funding factor needs to be realistic and sufficient and plans for future funding should form part of the project proposal. The Africa unit (2010) recommends that staff time should be funded so they have the time available to fulfil their partnership responsibilities.
Weak institutional

capacity

Another major challenge to the development of partnerships relates to weak HE institutional capacity. An empirical study by the AAU (2012) found that most HEIs do not have the structures and qualified academic and management staff to engage productively and effectively with partners in the private sector and government.

 

 

Respondents in the AAU (2012) study believe that a strong leadership at the HEI level is necessary as a first step to building institutional capacity. This was followed by the establishment of an administrative structure and environment, to support partnerships with the ‘outside world.’ HEIs need to build academic expertise that mirrors national economic and industrial sectors and human development issues and for HEIs to engage in more applied research and teaching.
Lack of confidence Partly as a result of the lack of capacity, the AAU (2012) study found that industry had no confidence in HEIs as potential partners to input into the innovation process. This has led to a reliance on foreign technologies and some suspicion of local innovations. HEIs are therefore not viewed as sources of useful information and expertise. The Africa Unit (2010) suggests that partners have clear agreements about their roles and responsibilities in the partnership and about what they bring to the table. These roles and responsibilities should reflect what each institution is realistically able to do which is dependent on their capabilities and skills (current and anticipated). Support should be provided if this reveals weakness in capacity training. The study also argues for flexibility in the partnership and that it should be prepared to change and adapt roles if necessary as the capacity and leadership of each partner develops.
Power and resource differentials The British Council (2015a), the Africa unit (2010) and Tandon (2007) all found that power, resource and funding imbalances could be a major challenge to effective partnerships. The British Council (2015a) found that power differentials often led to a paternalistic attitude of some UK HEIs and this was a challenge to maintain the partnership. Given historically unequal power relations, it is crucial that one partner is not seen to be setting the agenda of the partnership and that partnerships should have equal benefits for both partners. Although these do not need to be symmetrical (Africa unit, 2010), PHEA (2010)emphasises the importance of partnerships which respond to Africa HEI demand and treat consultation as key to effective support.
Governance issues Many informants in a study by Cresno (2013) on HE – industry partnerships in Africa specifically mentioned the lack of a clear policy framework establishing the role of HEIs in society and its contributions to national development as a challenge to establishing partnerships, especially with the private sector, as it meant that many potential partners in society did not understand the role of HE and what it could do.

 

The need for a clear national policy framework from governments that encourage partnerships is a strong message that emerges from the literature. Participants in an empirical study by Cresno (2013) call for a ‘national policy on innovation’ or a ‘national research policy’ which defines, in specific terms, the role of the HEIs and how they relate to other sectors of the society; deemed important for national development. They also emphasise the need to implement and monitor the policies once they are developed.

7.6       SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

All partnerships are different and it is important to understand that not all situations are suitable for partnerships and not all actors are suitable as partners. Partnerships can be good and can bring positive benefits, but require careful planning and consideration to ensure they really do deepen and expand appropriate capacity. The literature strongly indicates that the pre-partnership planning process is the most critical phase which requires negotiation and transparency and during that phase it is necessary to:

  • Choose a partner with care and one with whom there is an overlapping goal and which has unique but complementary assets and skills to contribute to the partnerships. Partnerships only work when the right partners come together.
  • Be sure that the partnership brings added value and that the added value is worth the effort required to maintain the partnership. Partnerships can end up costing more in time, money and resources than anticipated.
  • Ensure that the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of each partner are clear from the outset and the partnership leverages appropriate and realistic partner capacities and competencies. Partners should not be expected to do something that they cannot.

[1] Although dated, this document has been included as the summary is provides is considered to be very useful and still relevant

Although the need to act quickly is acknowledged, there is less clarity on how to reform higher education (HE) and establish a system of consistently high-quality institutions that will have a positive impact on development in the broader society. The purpose of this section is to review a number of innovations and initiatives in policy and practice aimed at building HE capacity, which have been often supported by international agencies and implemented in a range of contexts. Where possible and relevant, the implications for future policy and practice are presented. Despite being introduced under separate headings, it should be noted that many combine more than one aim. For example, increasing the private provision of HE can expand access but is also a strategy to finance HE provision and reduce costs to the state.

8.1       PROVIDE MASS HE FOR ALL CITIZENS

Issue Demand for HE in LDCs is growing and is expected to continue to grow (Altbach et al., 2009World Bank, 2010), meaning there is a need for continued expansion of the system.
Innovations Many initiatives aimed at increasing the reach of HE in the literature involve the use of information and communications technology, such as e-learning, online distance learning (ODL), massive open online courses (MOOCs) and blended learning. Kepler, for example, is a nonprofit university programme designed for the developing world. Launched in Rwanda in 2013, it uses accredited courses from leading United States universities to meet the needs of the Rwandan market. Kepler works in close consultation with the Rwandan private sector to identify the skills needed by graduates, and during the course students have the opportunity to choose internships with potential employers and develop employment-specific skills. Other interesting case studies include the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE), funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (http://www.oerafrica.org) and the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) Educational Technology Initiative (ETI), a multi-year initiative addressing HE e-learning in African universities (PHEA).

Another solution has been the provision of a larger, more diversified, more connected and more complex HE system with HEIs pursuing different goals and audiences. These include ‘niche’ institutions (Schendel and McCowan, 2015) or private HEIs. Private institutions can absorb the spill over from the pool of fully qualified but unsuccessful applicants to public institutions. Ethiopia has undergone unprecedented expansion of its HEIs. Whereas the number of public universities grew from two in 1991 to a high of 22 in 2007, the private domain grew more quickly with 64 accredited private HEIs in the same period. Private HEIs can offer a limited range of programmes, which also tend to be more market driven. ‘Ashesi’ is an exciting example of a successful private university in Ghana which offers a small, highly focused curriculum (see ashesi and ashesi-ghana).   

Implications ICT represents a unique opportunity to HE to reach more students and to offer more students with courses that are on a par with those delivered by world-class universities. However, there are many implications for both policy and practice. A report by Escher et al. (2014) examined the use of MOOCs in boosting HE in Africa and found that they raise issues of access and affordability and to reach their full potential, several technological, cultural and administrative challenges need to be addressed. In order to benefit from online coursework, students must be familiar with both the use of a computer and the norms of self-guided instruction Kapur and Crowley (2008) and have access to electricity and connectivity which cannot be assumed for LMIC contexts particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds. A review of the progress and impact of ICT use in MOOCs, ODL and blended learning in HE in Asia by UNESCO (2014) found that only 5% of the students who enrolled actually completed the course. USAID (2014) provides a thorough discussion on the benefits, challenges and implications for policy and practice of using e-Learning in LMIC contexts and is worth reviewing.

Private HEIs are often supported for their ability to react more flexibly to ‘market demand’ (World Bank, 2010) and the idea that they can provide a better quality education, given their access to alternative (i.e. non-governmental) sources of funding and the market-based competition that can be fostered between providers (ibid.). However, this is not often the reality. In many LMIC contexts there has been a proliferation of private providers of a very low academic standard, Brazil being a case in point (McCowan, 2007) (see annex J). The expansion of private provision can also exacerbate problems of quality within the public sector. New private institutions often recruit faculty from existing public universities (Schendel et al., 2013) which negatively affects standards across the sector, as faculty members become less able to devote their full attention to teaching or research at any one institution. The solution to these perceived or real quality problems suggested by Gyimah-Brempong and Ondiege (2011: 44) is close regulation and governance of these institutions such as in South Africa.

8.2       TRANSFORM GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES AT THE SYSTEMS LEVEL

Issue As demand for HE continues to grow and governments acknowledge the role of HE in promoting development, it is important to ensure that the system is managed in an effective way.
Innovations In the recent past, many LMIC governments have undertaken new reform measures related to the governance and management of the HE system. A variety of alternative governance models are possible ranging along a continuum from, at the one end, a state control model, where the centre seeks to control HE systems, to, at the other end, a state supervisory model where the centre monitors and regulates them (Fielden, 2008). Most countries have recently moved along the spectrum and put the accent on the supervisory model focussing primarily on autonomy and greater institutional enterprise (Di Gropello et al., 2011). According to Fielden (2008) most of these countries have the following elements: (1) legislation that establishes HE as independent entities, (2) withdrawal of the state from certain direct control and management functions, (3) the creation of buffer bodies or agencies to carry out some of the financial control and supervision functions, (4) the adoption of funding models that give institutions greater freedoms and encourages them to develop new sources of income, (5) the creation of external quality assurance agencies and, (6) the development of new forms of accountability through reporting on performance and outcomes in achieving national and institutional goals. For example, in Ethiopia, the 2003 HE proclamation granted autonomy to HEIs in finance and internal organisation, establishing linkages and the administration of personnel. It introduced a block grant system enrolment based budgeting and cost sharing process. In Ghana, reforms initiated in 2007 included new institutional evaluation procedures, the merging of courses, the introduction of a credit system, cost recovery measures and new finding formula, the creation of new governing bodies and buffer institutions, new staff recruitment procedures and the transition from staff from civil service to HE employees. A culture of centralised planning and bureaucratic decision making is deeply rooted across all areas of public service provision in Socialist Viet Nam, but moves towards autonomy and decentralisation in HE has also taken place for the purpose of achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness. Annex K presents a simple typology of four models for governance of public HE with examples of countries implementing them. For a discussion of the regulation of private HEIs see annex J.
Implications Varghese (2013) examines national reforms and resulting governance models of HE in five African countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa and found that in most instances they have helped to improve the governance and operational efficiency of HEIs and reduced reliance on the state for funding. The reforms in Ghana for example were found to have helped promote a greater sense of responsibility among staff and students and stimulated intellectualism. They also strengthened the decision-making process at the faculty level and enhanced teaching and research. The reforms in Ethiopia however, received some criticism. Many feel that some of the reforms have led to a paradigm shift from academic competency to operational competence. The study concludes that the best role for the state is to develop a framework for operation and regulating the system rather than in terms of financing, managing and controlling HEIs. A similar study of governance reforms in Asian countries by Varghese and Martin (2013) also found that reforms in the governance of HE systems in most, but not all countries, have generally had a positive impact resulting in more active and creative HEIs. The study provides a number of lessons learned for countries looking to move towards autonomy, including (1) autonomy policies as requiring coherent national policies, both horizontally (across departments and ministries) and vertical (centre to region) (2) the introduction of autonomy to be progressive with multiple reform layers, each building on the previous one (3) autonomy to first be piloted in a limited number of HEIs (4) autonomy to be considered as the means to an end and not as the ultimate aim, and (5) the understanding that there is no one model for ideal governance reform in HE.

8.3       IMPROVING MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE AT INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL

Issue With greater autonomy many HEIs need support to help them fulfil the new tasks it involves such as setting up priorities, developing strategies and study programmes, mobilising resources and creating new structures for greater institutional governance.
Innovations

 

Although a wide variety of capacity building initiatives exist, there seems to have been an almost exclusive focus on training as the prime method given its simplicity in planning and funding (James, R. & Wrigley, 2007). Other possible interventions include technical advice, support to project management and support for lobby and advocacy work (Datta et al., 2012). A number of international donor interventions aim to improve HEIs institutional governance and management, mostly through the development and exchange of ‘best practices.’ The USAID funded HE Programme (HEP) in Afghanistan is an example of an initiative to improve general leadership and administration, financial management and external stakeholder collaboration (USAID HEP). The emergence of new forms of cross border education provides a number of opportunities for institutional capacity building. Institutional partnerships, for example, can be used to develop capacity in management and governance. Although many partnerships rely on historical links between Northern and Southern institutions, South-South partnerships have also emerged. China, for example, has cultivated a number of partnerships with universities in Africa, establishing institutes on many campuses and investing in training programmes across the continent (King, 2010).
Implications Experience has shown that institutional capacity building is challenging and success largely depends on the relationship between actors, the context and the measures chosen. What works in one context will not necessarily work in another. Therefore, a strong emphasis is needed on understanding the country context (DfID, 2010). Nevertheless, although each context is different, there are some common themes about how to build capacity in the literature. Most studies recommend a ‘multi actor perspective’ in containing different methods such as action learning, experimentation, mentoring coaching and advise (van Deuren, 2013). Ashcroft and Rayner (2011) write about capacity development in SSA and propose a process of critical enquiry using an action research model. Van Deuren (2013) presents a list of 10 general principles to be applied in capacity building interventions taken from a review of the literature. These include (1) local ownership and leadership, (2) relation to national priorities and systems, (3) external support focusing on facilitation and investment in local leadership, (4) capacity building as requiring knowledge and profound understanding of local context, (5) a readiness to adapt to local situations using open discussions, (6) a long term perspective while not forgetting short term action plans and interventions, (7) a comprehensive systems wide approach, (8) being prepared for changing needs and flexibility, (9) mutual trust and a relational approach, and (10) relevant systems for monitoring and evaluation.

8.4       REDUCING THE POVERTY DYNAMIC

Issue To a large extent, access to HE in most LDCs is restricted to the higher socio-economic groups as entry is determined by highly competitive exams and often the ability to pay. This issue has become more pronounced in recent years, as HEIs are increasingly charging fees in order to address their substantial financial shortfalls.
Innovations Initiatives to address the poverty dynamics of HE include the provision of scholarships, student loans, stipends and even opening outreach centres in poverty stricken areas. Some countries, such as Kenya, have elected to introduce ‘parallel streams’, in which large numbers of fee-paying students enrol alongside those assuming free-of-charge places. Others, such as Brazil, have chosen to expand access by stratification, maintaining free public universities but allowing for the rapid expansion of a private sector to absorb the majority of the demand. Prouni meaning ‘university for all’ is a Brazilian educational policy regarding increasing access to higher learning for the low income population. The policy is designed to encourage universities to allocate unfilled places free of charge to low-income students in return for exemption from tax payments (De Araujo, 2012).
Implications Although there is some suggestion that the parallel system in Kenya has contributed immensely towards the financial stability of public universities and enabled them to supplement their funds, other evidence indicates that such a system has eroded the quality of HE as lecturers are overwhelmed by the large number of students and cannot deliver to the expected standards (The Nation Report), (Wangenge-Ouma, 2007). Whilst the policy in Brazil has increased enrolment in HE amongst poorer students, there are concerns that it only involves private institutions (De Araujo, 2012) and only addresses issues of enrolment not retention meaning that a high dropout rate amongst the poorest students still persists (McCowan, 2007).

8.5       INEQUALITIES OF ACCESS

Issue Certain sub groups (e.g. disabled, ethnic, racial, cultural minorities and women in some cases) find it difficult to compete for places in the HE system. Equity concerns in HE are widespread across many LMICs given its potential to boost national productivity in the context of the global knowledge economy.
Innovations Some initiatives aimed at promoting equity in access include affirmative action, targeted scholarships, sensitisation campaigns and even the creation of separate courses, classes or institutions. Uganda’s Makerere University introduced an innovative gender mainstreaming directorate (GMD) and initiative as part of the university’s strategic plan. This initiative highlights the accomplishments of women and works to create a network and infrastructure of support (GMD UM). Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya all implement affirmative action policies for females including weighted admission (Makerere University), women’s allocation to residence hall space (Ghana) or lowering cut-off points for university entrance (Kenya). Initiatives in policy and practice not only target women. An interesting example of an innovation in Mexico to address very limited representation of indigenous groups in HE was the creation of a completely new type of institution from the ground up, including the setting up of new buildings, a newly recruited teaching faculty and new course content and structure. These ‘’Intercultural Universities’’ (UIs) were characterised by indigenous, bilingual and intercultural education alongside close social contact between staff and students (Lehmann, 2013). Their objectives, progress and difficulties encountered to date are discussed in Schmelkes (2009).
Implications A study by Onsongo (2009) found the affirmative action policies in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya successfully increased female enrolment in HE. However, although these practices increased equity in admission, they did not receive much support. It was felt that women were being consigned to an inferior status, girls from well-known schools or well-connected backgrounds were benefitting and politicians believed it to be a quota system from which the respective areas they represent should enjoy university admission. A study by Clifford et al. (2013: 32) also acknowledges the potential negative consequences of such policies. Where policies aimed to support one group may have positive outcomes for that specific group, it may have unintended negative consequences on another, for example, women in India. The possible repercussions of affirmative action initiatives need to be considered carefully by policy makers. The World Bank (2000: 41) warns that policies and programmes to increase equity of access for disadvantaged groups will only prove sustainable if they do not undermine the standards of excellence on which HE is based. Merit criteria cannot be relaxed, as awarding degrees or certificates to people who do not deserve them is not in the public interest. The answer, the paper argues, is to combine tolerance at entrance to HE with rigour at exit, with members of disadvantaged groups must receive consistent remedial support during their time in HE.

8.6       HIGHER EDUCATION READINESS

Issue Massification and increasing access for disadvantaged groups has led to the diversification of the student body and the entry of new student populations with more limited academic preparation. As a result, there is often a lower retention and completion rate amongst these groups with the privileged classes retaining their relative advantage in HE in nearly all nations (Shavit et. al., 2007).
Innovations The literature offers few examples of innovations at HE level in LMIC contexts to address HE readiness. However, there are some initiatives directed at secondary level. The Higher Education Readiness programme (HER) in Ethiopia is a small scale enterprise supported by the Institute of International Education which works with young women in secondary school from underserved communities with scholarship support combined with innovative leadership and life skills training to help them complete their secondary education and equip them with the tools needed to continue on to university (Ethiopia HER). There are some initiatives in HIC contexts which are designed to prepare students for HE study in the UK and these may have some relevance for LMICs. INTO is an independently-owned company partnered with and providing study centres at a number of universities to allow international students the opportunity to study in the UK, China and the US by offering university preparation and English language modules. Courses provided by INTO at the University of Exeter have been proven to help international students’ progress to undergraduate and graduate degrees in the UK (INTO Exeter).
Implications The skills needed for preparedness differ between and within countries and even between subjects studied. Therefore, there is no one size fits all solution. A report by Altbach et al. (2009) suggests the focus of innovations should move away from access and readiness to completion. Accountability in HE he argues should not be based on enrolment but outcomes with links to funding. The World Bank (2000) also recommends a focus on completion and the provision of ‘catch up’ programmes.  Nevertheless, the consensus in the literature is to improve the links between secondary school outcomes and HE and the need to establish mechanisms to do that, rather than on ‘catch up’ programmes. An empirical study by the British Council (2015b) on university preparedness in Mexico provides a list of factors that influence readiness for HE at primary and secondary schools which policy makers should consider. The report emphasises the need for secondary schools to develop both cognitive and non-cognitive (soft) skills in students, such as language, communication, interpersonal skills, as these are all predictors of success in HE and will give students the ability to adapt to the nature of study at HE.

8.7       FINANCINING OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Issue Expanding demand and enrolment in HE, combined with increasing constraints on public funding, debates about the legitimacy of public financial support for HE in lower-income contexts and the recognised need for quality improvement of HE, have motivated governments to minimise public support for HE and to find innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms.
Innovations The most common financing mechanisms are based on cost-sharing initiatives such as tuition fees. These are being implemented for HE in many LMICs (and indeed HICs). These can be effective. In China, for example, a large scale cost recovery initiative was implemented in the mid-1990s. As a result, whilst per capita expenditure on HE doubled, the level of Government support declined. The share of total costs paid by students doubled, with fees increasing by over 200% (Li, 2007Zhong, 2005). Whilst cost sharing initiatives have increased revenue for HE, they have jeopardised the ability of some students to participate. Therefore, such schemes are often accompanied by student loans and financial aid for low-income students. Tanzania, for example, introduced a cost-sharing policy that expects beneficiaries to contribute gradually to the cost of their education. Different types of loan systems have been implemented. The most popular seem to be deferred loans, where students are responsible for repaying tuition fees in the future. Deferred loans fall into two types, the ‘mortgage type’ and the ‘income contingent’ (ADB, 2009: 18). The latter is where students sign a contract when they enter university and promise to pay a share of their earnings to particular investors for a fixed period after they graduate. Such policies are in operation in Ethiopia, Botswana and Lesotho (The World Bank, 2010) and seem to be the preferred option for many educationalists. Some countries such as Vietnam have comprehensive and complex packages for charging fees and for fee reductions (Di Gropello et al., 2011). Other innovations include dual track policies where a certain number of free (or almost free) places are offered based on particular criteria, for example, performance related or means tested. Uganda, for example, retains government funding for a limited number of places and uses a private entry fee paying scheme for the remaining places (Ibid.). Other types of dual rack systems involve variable fee rates where tuition fees are set differently for different programmes of study. In China for example, fees for science and engineering are less than for languages and medicine (Di Gropello et al., 2011). Rather than tuition fees, some countries charge user fees. In Nigeria, student contributions are made through a variety of fees including examination fees, registration fees, library fees and hostel maintenance fees, to name a few. In some cases, public private partnerships are being used to improve the efficiency of HE services provided to students such as meals, housing, and transportation, such as those found in the Ivory Coast (see annex L). Such PPPs can ensure public expenditure is allocated as a priority to academic activities and research rather than to the provision of services to students. In the USA, lotteries have become a significant source of funding for HE (Altman, 2010). HE has also been diversified to offer lower cost and more effective delivery alternatives, such as distance education and private provision, which have been discussed elsewhere.

Marketisation has also become an important way for HEIs to generate revenue from private sources. In this sense, HE is seen as a commodity that can be sold. Strategies include HE-owned for profit companies, co-ventures with private non HE institutions, attracting investment by international companies in HE franchises, the admission of full fee–paying students, opening branches in other countries and franchised degree programmes or curricula. Many LMICs now host HEIs from MDCs or use foreign curricula. They use this to gain prestige, attract more students and gain income. HEIs in MDCs also try to attract students, however, usually international students, to earn profits by charging high fees (Altbach and Knight, 2007).

  It is not just a case of attracting more private funding that is important but better allocating the public funding that is available. In a few cases, impressive reforms to improve internal efficiency have been implemented, and governments are adopting more effective budget management practices, including formula, performance or competitive funding. The Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET) described in annex M is an interesting example of one such innovation.
Implications In terms of the financing of HE, the World Bank (2010) makes a strong case for a comprehensive approach combining a number of different methods to ensure more financially sustainable HE systems. The way in which the measures are combined and the pace at which the reforms are implemented will depend on the situation and constraints specific to each country. Experience shows that reforming the financing of HE is challenge, and can generate controversies, tensions and meet institutional resistance. Therefore, policy makers should carefully present the arguments, assess the impacts of proposed solutions, and engage in a wide consultation so that stakeholders are better informed. In addition, reforms should be implemented incrementally (ADB, 2009).

8.8       RELEVANCE AND EMPLOYABILITY

Issue Equipping its workforce with the right skills is an important part of LMICs’ efforts to accelerate economic growth and further modernisation. However, numerous reports indicate mismatches between supply and demand of graduates in LMICs and consequently high graduate under and unemployment.
Innovations Innovations designed to better connect HE with the labour market are quite widespread and some examples of how developing nations have been trying to achieve this through partnerships with the private sector have been discussed previously in this guide. Other examples, which have been established in HICs but may have implications for LDCs include national policies and close monitoring of the supply of demand for HE graduates. In Sweden for example, the National Agency for Higher Education publishes an assessment of the future balance in the labour market. Annual reports have been published since 2003 indicating the proportion of university graduates that have been successful on the labour market (12-18 months after graduation). In the case of surplus or shortage of graduates, the number of places offered in different programmes is adapted (de Weert, 2011). Governments have also set up enrolment quotas and/or provided scholarships for particular disciplines, in an attempt to incentivise the study of certain subjects. For example, the UK Government provides additional funding support to broad subject areas that have been identified as both strategically important to the country and vulnerable in terms of their longer term sustainability. These strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS) include STEM, MFL and quantitative social sciences (de Weert, 2011). Botswana has a similar policy. Some HEIs work directly with the private sector to tailor the content of the courses it offers. The partnership between the North Carolina Community College and the Manufacturing Association is acclaimed as an extremely successful example of collaboration (Pillay, 2010). Many LMICs see entrepreneurship as a way of reducing high unemployment rates and as central to economic growth and development and include it in the HE curricula. In Kenya, entrepreneurship education is offered at undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels (Gyimah-Brempong and Ondiege, 2011).
Implications A study by the IPPR (2013) found that many industries and businesses engage with universities only when it comes to recruitment. That is too far late to have any real impact. They should be connected to what students learn from their first day on campus if they don’t want to be disappointed by a lack of skills upon graduation. However, Gyimah-Brempong and Ondiege (2011) believe this is because most countries only really pay lip service to HE-industry links or when it suits them and it should be taken more seriously. Much of the literature reviewed suggests that connecting HE to the labour market requires serious and concentrated national efforts and policy. Di Gropello et al. (2011) advocates for more public intervention in HE to mend the disconnect between HE and industry. However, a recent empirical study by the British Council (2015) involving young people found that HE may have to adapt to another new reality as students no longer see their future in conventional salaried employment. Entrepreneurship and social enterprise have become the new valued areas of interest.

8.9       HUMAN CAPITAL FLIGHT

Issue Student or graduate mobility and migration in the form of ‘brain drain’ is one of the reasons many donors shy away from extending aid to HE, as it was thought that foreign study programmes combined with domestic universities producing larger number of graduates than the labour market could absorb, encouraged the migration of the educated in LDCs to MDCs.
Innovations One way to alleviate the brain drain is to better connect HE to the labour market and improve the quality of HE in LDCs. More targeted attempts to ease student migration include UNESCO and Hewlett Packard’s Brain Gain Initiative (UNESCO-HP) which attempts to build a sustainable university e-structure for science involving Africa and the Arab states and the Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa initiative (TESSA). The IOM 2001 Migration and Development for Africa programme, emphasises short-term visits and the transfer of knowledge through the internet and diaspora groups rather than focus on the permanent return of skilled migrants to developing nations in Africa as has happened in the past. IOM and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) also has an initiative where diaspora academics mentor post graduate students (CODESRIA). A paper by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2007) summarises a number of options that could be employed by both destination countries and countries of origin. The paper emphasises that policies in the country of origin need to encourage graduates to stay in order to help in the development process. Examples of policies that could be introduced include tying HE funding to the proportion of graduates who work in the country, selecting people to study abroad from only those who are currently employed in the country and holding their positions for them, forgiving or reducing student loans for graduates who do not emigrate, and ensuring meritocracy in a transparent way in job markets.
Implications

 

International donors and national governments should always take into account the possibility of student migration in their policy and practice in HE capacity building. However, a current study suggests that whether a country gains or losses in the brain drain depends on country-specific factors and there is no one size fits all solution (Docquier, 2014). Therefore, the international community and policymakers should gauge the costs and benefits of the brain drain in their specific context in order to design appropriate responses.

8.10     IMPROVING RESEARCH CAPACITY

Issue Research is a core function of HE and a well-developed system for research and knowledge generation is important within the emerging knowledge economy. However, limited investment in HE in LMICs has restricted their ability to fully participate in the global research community, and research output in terms of quality and quantity is generally low (Di Gropello et al., 2011).
Innovations A number of initiatives have been undertaken to improve the research capacity of HE in LMICs. These include strengthening graduate study programmes, improving the management of research, providing funding and linking with other institutions and academics to conduct research and exchange good practice and increasing the distribution and access to academic journals. Some specific examples include the Irish Aid/Higher Education Authority project ‘’Doctoral Training for Development in Africa Initiative,’’ (IE) aimed to build HEI research capacity specifically for poverty alleviation and the achievement of the MDGs. The project tested three different models of partnerships, Africa led, bilateral and multilateral (Uduma, O. et al., 2012) all of which proved successful. The South Africa–Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD), a doctoral research preparation programme for candidates on the African continent, aimed especially at black women (Smit et al., 2013) is another successful example. The DfID funded Capacity Strengthening Initiative: UK-Africa Consortia with the Royal Society is aimed at funding scientists who want to develop collaborative research consortia between the UK and SSA (Royal Society-DfID). Examples of innovative research networks include the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) and the Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSP) which is described in detail in annex N.
Implications Evaluations of the doctoral training programmes conclude that their success was largely because they were mutually beneficial, locally led and based on a long term, multi-source funding with capable partners and these areas should be taken into account when building research capacity. A study by the British Council (2015a) also suggests that these are all major elements of effective partnerships for developing research capacity. In examining the challenges facing building research capacity for development, specifically in Africa, Sawyerr (2004) concludes that there are two elements that need to be addressed. They include an active component (skills, competencies, attitudes and values of researchers) and an environmental component (societal, institutional, material and management) – and initiatives which selectively focus on only one of these will not transform the research scene. Only initiatives that address them all, Sawyerr (2004) argues, will remove the knowledge deficit in HE in LMICs and yield substantial and immediate gains, and this should be taken into account.

8.11     IMPROVING TEACHING AND LEARNING QUALITY

Issue The expansion of HE combined with the lack of funding has had an adverse effect on the quality of the programmes that HE in LDCs offer and there are concerns that they are not producing the technical, behavioural, and thinking skills required to increase productivity and growth in the modern world.
Innovations Innovations to improve the academic capacity of HEI have focussed on new forms of teaching and learning for new students, new learning goals and new curricula. In recent years, there have been many attempts and regional partnerships designed to support improvements in the quality of teaching and learning in HEIs in LMIC contexts, for example, the Inter-University Council for East Africa, 2010 (IUCEA). A number of donor projects have attempted to improve teaching quality, such as the USAID funded Decentralized Basic Education Two (DBE2) project in Indonesia. The project responded to requests from a number of universities and developed a training programme on teaching methodologies specifically for teaching in HE. The Active Learning for Higher Education (ALPHE) programme was developed in partnerships with HEIs in Aceh and expanded to other provinces. By the end of the project in 2011, the programme had reached 117 HEIs. The final evaluation of the project found that ALPHE had been very successful in improving practice and that many HEIs had institutionalised or integrated the programme into their own CPD training for lecturers (USAID DBE2).
Implications Experience has shown that fostering academic capacity and quality in teaching in learning requires long term investment and that the results are not as immediate as support for other components. A study by Schendel (2013) in Rwanda, clearly demonstrates the need for continued and sustained efforts at improvement. A review of quality teaching in HE for the OECD by Henard and Roseveare (2012) found that fostering quality teaching in HE is a multi-level endeavour and requires support at three inter-dependent levels: the institution wide level (management and government, policy design and quality assurance mechanisms), the programme level (actions designed to measure and enhance the design, content and delivery of teaching programmes) and the individual level (helping lecturers to achieve their missions and encouraging them to innovate and adapt student oriented practices). Innovations which focus on only one of these levels to the exclusion of the others may be doomed to failure.

8.12     A COMBINATION OF INNOVATIONS

As this discussion has illustrated, a wide number of initiatives and innovations have been implemented to reform HE. Whilst there is a large body of literature on the design and implementation of such policies and programmes, robust empirical evidence on their impact seems to be lacking. However, the evidence that is available suggests that one or two initiatives alone are insufficient to address the challenges facing HE systems in LMICs and a combination is necessary. Exactly what innovation to blend together is open to debate and will vary according to context. To identify the initiatives to take, the World Bank (2010) stresses the need for countries and the international community to consider the ‘feasibility of the reform’ and what will or will not work in specific contexts. Many LMICs already combine initiatives. For example, the Botswana Government MOE HE education policy ‘Towards a Knowledge Society’ incorporated a comprehensive package of reforms to HE (Botswana).

This topic guide has illustrated that higher education (HE) is distinctively positioned to make a positive contribution to national economies and societies in the 21st Century and accordingly is now high on the post 2015 development agenda for national governments and donors alike. However, in order to successfully meet the new challenges and deliver on the demands they have been assigned, HE systems cannot depend on 20th Century policies and practices. Multiple sectoral and institutional changes and reforms are required. The pressures to reform are greater for LMICs because of the uneven distribution of human capital and funds that already exist.

Not only are the catalysts for reform greater for LMICs but so are the challenges. What has become apparent in this topic guide is that the challenges facing HE systems in LMICs are highly complex and inter-related like a ‘knotted ball of string’ (Altbach et al., 2009). Mass enrolment has created a demand for expanded facilities and more qualified staff. It has also resulted in a more diverse student body with different needs and expectations. Expansion in demand has also created the need for new providers. System growth requires additional funding and channels for obtaining it. All of this expansion and diversification has generated concerns for quality. Overcoming these challenges is complex and will involve massive expansion and restructuring of the HE systems in particular and, as this guide has clearly demonstrated, of primary and secondary education as well. HE cannot be considered in isolation from the lower levels of the education system: effective learning and equitable access in HE are dependent on the foundations laid at primary and secondary levels, and quality of schooling depends on effective training of teachers. Addressing all of these areas simultaneously is a significant undertaking for governments in LMICs.

However, governments are not alone in this endeavour. Multilateral and bilateral donors can complement efforts of national governments in LMICs to improve HE by providing funding and educational resources or training senior HE staff on education management techniques, curricula development or governance and administration. It is not just partners in the international development community that can support improvements in the HE system. As this topic guide has shown there are a variety of other potential partners in the private and public sector and in civil society that can help increase the quality, relevance and effectiveness of HEIs and wider HE systems in LMICs.

What is clear is that governments and HE systems in LMICs have a lot of work ahead of them if HE is to ultimately deliver on the demands laid at its door of ensuring a highly skilled workforce, a well-informed and democratic populace, sustained economic growth, and sufficient technological innovation to solve global problems such as environmental sustainability and population growth. We hope that this guide can go some way towards inspiring dialogue about how this might be achieved.

 

ANNEX A: RECOMMENDED READING

ABOUT HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Altbach, P. G., Reisberg, L. and Rumbley, L. E. (2009) Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution. Paris: UNESCO. This document provides a very comprehensive and accessible overview of the global forces impacting HE and discusses how HE in developed and developing contexts has responded. It also examines potential future trends. Trends in Global HE

EVIDENCE OF IMPACT

  • Oketch, M., McCowan, T. and Schendel, R. (2014) The Impact of Tertiary Education on Development: A Rigorous Literature Review. London: Department for International Development. This provides a useful overview of the literature available on the impact of higher education for national development and includes insightful commentary on the quality and rigour of the studies included. The Impact of Tertiary Education on Development
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2014) The benfits of higher education participation for indivduals and society: Key findings and reports ‘the quadrants’. This report provides a good overview of the benefits of participation in higher education both for the individual and society. The benefits are usefully divided into society, market, non-market and the individual. The report provides many useful links to other studies too numerous to be included in this topic guide. The benefits of HE Participation
  • Majgaard K. and Mingat A. (2012) Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: A comparative Analysis. World Bank. This book analyses the education sector in SSA from a cross-country perspective. Aimed at drawing lessons that individual country studies alone cannot provide. Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Pillay P. (2011) Higher Education and Economic Development Literature Review. CHET. This literature review explores the relationship between HE and economic development. Higher Education and Economic Development Literature Review
  • Bloom, D., Canning, D. and Chan, K. (2006) Higher education and economic development in Africa. Harvard University. The authors review evidence about the impact that HE can have on economic growth and poverty reduction, with a focus on SSA countries. HE and Economic Development in Africa

POLICY ISSUES

  • McCowan, T. (2015) Is there a Universal Right to Higher Education? British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 60, no. 2 pp. 111-128. This article provides an overview of the policy issues of the purpose of HE and considers whether it should be a right that is available to all citizens or not. Is there a Universal Right to HE?

 BARRIERS

  • Di Gropello, E., Tandon, P. and Yusuf, S. (2011). Putting higher education to work: Skills and research for growth in East Asia. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. This is a comprehensive guide examing HE in the developing countries of East Asia. Measures are proposed to help these countries achieve rapid growth led by gains in productivity in a globally competitive environment. Putting HE to work
  • Fielden, J., and LaRocque, N. (2008) The Evolving Regulatory Context for Private Education in Emerging Economies: Discussion Paper. The World Bank Group International Colloqium on Private Education. This paper briefly examines international experience of regulating private education at the school and HE level. The report includes a short discussion of the potential benefits of increased private participation in education and proposes some possible good practice propositions for governments to consider. Private Education in Emerging Economies
  • Sawyerr, A. (2004) African Universities and the Challenge of Research Capacity Development. JHEA/RESA Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 211–240. This paper considers the context of African research and environmental and human research capacity development. Challenges in developing long-term knowledge generation and application capacities are considered and some programmes that are helping to meet these challenges are described. African Universities

AID AND THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENICES

  • USAID (2014) African Higher Education: Opportunities for Transformative Change for Sustainable Development. This report is particularly useful as it reviews the evidence from a number of large USAID funded HE projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and uses it to provide lessons learned and concrete recommendations for how to effect positive transformation at both the system and institutional level. USAID
  • Creed, C,. Perraton, H. and Waage, J. (2012) Examining development evaluation in higher education interventions: a preliminary study. This study surveyed a range of interventions in higher education for international development from different agencies and presents a series of helpful observations of the impact of different types of interventions. Examining Development Evaluation

PARTNERSHIPS

  • The Africa Unit (2010) Good Practices in Educational Partnerships Guide, UK-Africa Higher & Further Education Partnerships. This document usefully provides a list and comprehensive discussion of 10 main principles for establishing effective partnerships between HEIs, which can be applied to any HE partnership. The Africa Unit.
  • The British Council (2015) Bridging the Gap: Enabling effective UK-Africa University Partnerships, British Council. This is a contemporary and relevant review of partnerships in HE. It provides a brief but valuable discussion of the challenges and potential solutions for establishing effective partnerships from empirical research with stakeholders. British Council

INNOVATIONS

The following are recommended as general texts, which review a range of case studies of innovations and initiatives to improve HE capacity. The reader should engage with the resources referred to in section 8 for more information and specific examples:

  • The World Bank (2010) Financing Higher Education in Africa: This is a very useful review of a range of options for the financing of HE. It usefully provides a number of different specific case studies from developing nations in Africa. The World Bank
  • Clifford M., Miller T., Stasz C., Goldman C., Sam C. and Kumar K. (2013) How effective are different approaches to higher education provision in increasing access, quality and completion for students in developing countries? Does this differ by gender of students? A systematic review. This review is useful as it looks at a number of different approaches for increasing access to HE and includes references to specific examples from around the World. Different approaches to HE provision
  • Association of Commonwealth Universities. A website which is a good source of publications and information on interventions/reforms in HE. ACU

ANNEX B: TERTIARY EDUCATION BY ISCED CLASSIFICATION LEVELS

ISCED level 5 programmes are typically practically-based and occupationally-specific and designed to provide learners with professional knowledge, skills, and competencies, in preparation for the labour market. Some level 5 programmes are designed to prepare learners for entry into other tertiary education pathways. Level 5 programmes are a minimum of 2 years in duration, though most are less than 3. Examples of level 5 education include (higher) technical education, community college education, technician or advanced/higher vocational training, associate degree, or bac+2 (baccalauréat + 2).

ISCED level 6 programmes are Bachelor’s or equivalent level programmes, designed to give learners the intermediate academic and/or professional knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for a first degree. While these programmes are typically theoretical in nature, some may include practical components and are informed by research and/or professional practice. Level 6 programmes are either academic or professional in orientation and are offered at universities or other equivalent higher education institutions. Typically, the programme duration for Level 6 programmes is 3 to 4 years.

ISCED level 7 programmes are Master’s or equivalent level programmes, designed to give learners the advanced academic and/or professional knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for a second degree (or equivalent qualification). These programmes include either theoretically-based and/or professionally-based content and are often informed by research and/or professional practice. Some include a significant research component, though this is not sufficient to lead to the award of a doctoral degree. Level 7 programmes are either academic or professional in orientation and are offered at universities or other equivalent higher education institutions. Typically, the programme duration for Level 7 programmes is 1 to 4 years.

ISCED level 8 programmes are doctoral or equivalent level programmes, designed to lead to an advanced research qualification. Level 8 programmes involve advanced study and original research in both academic and professional fields and are only offered at research-oriented tertiary education institutions, such as universities. Level 8 programmes must be at least 3 years in duration and culminate in the submission of an original thesis, dissertation or equivalent written work of publishable quality that will contribute to the knowledge base in a specific field in a significant way. Examples of degree programmes classified as ISCED Level 8 include PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate, etc.

ANNEX C: MISSIONS AND FUNCTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century: Vision and Action, UNESCO 1998 (UNESCO, 1998)

Article 1. Mission to educate, to train and to undertake research

We affirm that the core missions and values of higher education, in particular the mission to contribute to the sustainable development and improvement of society as a whole, should be preserved, reinforced and further expanded, namely to:

  1. educate highly qualified graduates and responsible citizens able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity, by offering relevant qualifications, including professional training, which combine high-level knowledge and skills, using courses and content continually tailored to the present and future needs of society;
  2. provide opportunities (espace ouvert) for higher learning and for learning throughout life, giving to learners an optimal range of choice and a flexibility of entry and exit points within the system, as well as an opportunity for individual development and social mobility in order to educate for citizenship and for active participation in society, with a worldwide vision, for endogenous capacity-building, and for the consolidation of human rights, sustainable development, democracy and peace, in a context of justice;
  3. advance, create and disseminate knowledge through research and provide, as part of its service to the community, relevant expertise to assist societies in cultural, social and economic development, promoting and developing scientific and technological research as well as research in the social sciences, the humanities and the creative arts;
  4. help understand, interpret, preserve, enhance, promote and disseminate national and regional, international and historic cultures, in a context of cultural pluralism and diversity;
  5. help protect and enhance societal values by training young people in the values which form the basis of democratic citizenship and by providing critical and detached perspectives to assist in the discussion of strategic options and the reinforcement of humanistic perspectives;
  6. contribute to the development and improvement of education at all levels, including through the training of teachers.

Article 2. Ethical role, autonomy, responsibility and anticipatory function

In accordance with the Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel approved by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1997, higher education institutions and their personnel and students should:

  1. preserve and develop their crucial functions, through the exercise of ethics and scientific and intellectual rigour in their various activities;
  2. be able to speak out on ethical, cultural and social problems completely independently and in full awareness of their responsibilities, exercising a kind of intellectual authority that society needs to help it to reflect, understand and act;
  3. enhance their critical and forward-looking functions, through continuing analysis of emerging social, economic, cultural and political trends, providing a focus for forecasting, warning and prevention;
  4. exercise their intellectual capacity and their moral prestige to defend and actively disseminate universally accepted values, including peace, justice, freedom, equality and solidarity, as enshrined in UNESCO’s Constitution;
  5. enjoy full academic autonomy and freedom, conceived as a set of rights and duties, while being fully responsible and accountable to society;
  6. play a role in helping identify and address issues that affect the well-being of communities, nations and global society.

 

ANNEX D: RETURNS TO EDUCATION

Annex d table

Source: Psacharopoulos, G. (2006).

ANNEX E: CAPTURE OF HE BY ELITES

Most LMICs proclaim their citizens right to education as part of the constitution or as contained in other laws but this guarantee usually does not mean that education will be supported at higher levels. In the recent past, HE systems in most countries were clearly exclusive with access being restricted to a very small proportion of the population – the ‘elites’ (defined as individuals of superior status be it economic, political, educational, ethnic or otherwise).

Expansion of primary and secondary systems, the increasing need for HE qualifications on the job market, the demand for social equity and the recognition of HE as critical for social mobility has moved HE from an elite to a mass system. As HE expands to mass systems, so do opportunities for participation for more of the population. However, despite overall rising enrolment in HE and the demands for social equity, certain demographic groups remain under-represented in HE systems in most LMICs. Depending on context, variables such as gender, wealth, location, race, ethnicity or disability can disadvantage a person looking to participate in and complete HE programmes.

Although quantitatively speaking, access and enrolment have been improving in recent years for some of these disadvantaged groups, it still does not mean that they have the same opportunities to access the same HEIs. Research shows that marginalised populations attend particular types of HEIs and programmes of study and these are typically those that offer fewer opportunities for employment and future study. Furthermore, access to HE does not necessarily mean the same opportunities are available to all equally. Research also repeatedly shows that disadvantged populations once enrolled, are less likely to continue to degree completion than elites (Altbach et al., 2009).

In 2008 blacks who constitute 79% of the population in South Africa made up only 63% of the student population in HEIs whereas whites who made up only 10% of the national population made up 24% of the HE student population. Moreover, whites comprised 34% of all universities students whereas blacks made up 50% but white enrollment in technical universities was as high as 77%. The structure of enrollment suggests that black South Africans tend to enrol in less pretigious HEIs (Gyimah-Brempong and Ondiege, 2011).

There are a number of intersecting factors presenting barriers to these particular groups in achieving equitable access to HE. These primarily include:

  • Institutional admissions policies
  • Funding mechanisms
  • Earlier levels of education
  • Traditional cultural values

As admission to HE is often based on academic performance, access to HE in general and to the best HEIs in particular is determined by access to and quality of secondary schooling and therefore, is skewed towards households with higher incomes or social connections that can afford to send their children to the best secondary schools. Although this reliance on performance can ensure academic standards of incoming students, it discriminates against students from the lower socio-economic groups and those living in rural or remote areas where the quality of primary or secondary education is generally lower due to poor resource inputs and who can not afford the spiralling costs of HE. These issues are becoming more profound in light of the the recognition of the apparent link between HE and economic competitiveness in the global knowledge economy (Santiago et al., 2008), as nation states are aiming to increase the proportion of higher-level-educated individuals in the population, they want those most likely to succeed, and the adoption of fee paying structures (Ibid.).

Socio-economic status:

Access to HE is often dependent on socio-economic status. In many LMICs, participation in HE is dominated by students from the highest income quartiles. In a case study on Ghana and Tanzania, for example, Morley (2012) found that students from low socio-economic backgrounds were under-represented in all disciplines. Often public funding mechanisms serve to exacerbate such inequities by providing free education to the highest performing students who invariably come from the wealthiest households with access to the best secondary schools or even private tuition. Morley (2012) also found that current schemes to assist people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter HE are not working and these groups need to be targeted more efficiently.

Ethnicity:

Not all races or ethnic groups have equal opportunities to access HE. Inequities by ethnic group often start early in education and are most often further exacerbated in the transition to HE levels. For example, Vietnam’s ethnic minorities have HE enrolment rates well below the national average (World Bank, 2011). Inequities by ethnic group exist in secondary education, HE completion rates and in the transition rate from secondary to HE compared to the majority.

Location:

Geography is often underestimated as a factor that limits equal participation in HE. HEIs are not evenly distributed across a nation and are often located in urban centres. Rural populations therefore are far more likely to be more distant to HEIs than urban ones, increasing costs related to transport, accommodation and other related recurring costs. Indigenous populations are even more likely to live in remote areas and this compounds the challenge of improving participation rates of these groups.

Disability:

Little is known about the state of participation in HE of students with disabilities. Categorising disability and evaluating access is extremely difficult outside of isolated case studies (USAID, 2014). Morley (2012) found that in Ghana and Tanzania, the facilities and programmes designed for students with disabilties did little to support them. In a review of different approaches to improving access and completion of HE in developing countrues, Clifford (2013) found that the lack of supporting infrastructure at HEIs hampered the ability of students with a disability to maintain their place and to succeed and that those that did had to rely on informal infrastructure.

Conclusion:

Policy makers are currently failing to address sufficiently the connection between education levels and the need to address inequalities early and consistently. Equity statistics remain poor in most countries and disaggregated data is the key to informing policy makers why certain groups are more vulnerable.

ANNEX F:  GENDER IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Globally, there has been an increase in gender parity in gross enrolment leading many to believe that HE is undergoing a process of feminisation (Morley and Lugg, 2009). However, this is not the case universally. While overall HE enrolment has increased, women are still underrepresented in certain disciplines, usually STEM and finance, as they tend to enrol more in the humanities and social sciences Clifford (2013) and at the higher levels of education that lead to greater earning potential (May and Rodgers, 2014; Semela, 2011; Sifuna, 2006). Moreover, patterns of disadvantage and exclusion soon emerge when gender is intersected with socio-economic status and other variables (Morley and Lugg, 2009). The table below illustrates this on a global scale.

Ratio[1] of female to male HE enrolment (%)

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
World 107.3 107.6 107.6 107.6 109.8 110.3
High income countries 125.2 125.9 126.2 126.0 125.1 123.5
Middle income countries 101.4 102.0 102.3 102.8 106.6 108.3
Low income countries 61.8 62.8 64.2 66.2 67.6 68.5

Source: World Bank’s World Development Indicators.

As the data shows, the ratio of females to males enrolled in HE is lower in MICs than in HICs and significantly lower in LICs where there are fewer than seven women enrolled for every 10 men. While HE continues to exclude capable and talented students because of their socio-economic status, ethnicity, and rural residence (World Bank, 2012), these factors can be compounded by gender. Therefore, women often find themselves doubly disadvantaged. Women students generally have higher dropout rates than males due to cultural emphasis on the traditional role of women and their family obligations, which is often in conflict with their desire to pursue advanced studies (Rihani, 2006).

In examining the situation in Kenya, Sifuna (2006) highlights some of the barriers that women face in accessing and participating in HE. These include, but are not limited to low participation and high failure rates in certain fields, such as medicine and engineering, high levels of sexual harassment, resistance from families, lack of opportunities and prospects for future employment and prevailing traditional and cultural views about educated versus non-educated women as wives and mothers.

 

 

ANNEX G: THE MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNACE OF PRIVATE HEIs

According to human rights agreements, governments have an obligation to ensure that their citizens receive a good education regardless of the source, be it public or private. This includes ensuring that teaching staff, facilities, equipment and materials and monitoring, including quality assurance, are of the best quality that can be provided with available funds in both the public and private sectors.

The regulation of private education is thus an important issue and can, when carried out correctly, enable high quality delivery while simultaneously encouraging further investment. In a paper examining the international experience of regulation of private education at the school and HE level, Fielden and LaRoque (2008) demonstrate that government regulations often appear to favour public over private provision in the absence of any public policy rationale. They also argue that the regulatory and funding frameworks in many countries do not promote growth in private education and likely reduce both the quality and sustainability of the private education sector and subsequent benefits that such provisions could bring. For Altbach (2002) and Susanti (2010), entirely open HE markets with no regulation undermine academic values and reinforce inequalities that already exist, giving the most powerful education providers and individuals, unrestricted access, making it difficult for countries, institutions, and individuals with limited resources to flourish. In many LMICs, a number of new providers (including private for-profit institutions) have emerged to meet the burgeoning demand for HE. Unfortunately, in several countries, this increase has coincided with a relaxing of state regulation, rather than a concerted effort to improve the rigour and effectiveness of state regulation mechanisms to achieve these dual goals of improved quality and further investment (Naidoo, 2007).

 


 ANNEX H: THE PARTNERSHIPS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN AFRICA (PHEA)

In 2000 the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation launched the PHEA to coordinate their support for HE in Africa. The PHEA grants totalled US$ 440 million over ten years up until 2010. The PHEA support was focused in nine African countries: Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda. The PHEA aimed to provide direct support to HE, respond to Africa HEI demand, focus on a subset of HEIs and treat consultation as key to effective support.

Most of the funding (84%) went directly to African grantees, including US$243 million in direct support to universities and colleges. In responding to demands, grants to institutional development usually supported priority areas identified by the universities themselves. Of the 65 HEIs supported, 27 received US$ 1 million or more. Seven received over US$ 10 million each. African regional networks were the second largest type of grantee receiving just under US$61 million.

In 2010, the PHEA published a review of its decade of investment in African HE. In this review, the PHEA cited among its accomplishments: enduring improvements in African HE, including the development of a Bandwidth consortium; developing HE capacity to manage their IT networks; using technology to improve teaching and learning; enhancing gender equity in enrolments and graduation rates; improving access for marginalised groups; strengthening physical infrastructure; expanding the capacity for policy research and advocacy; establishing new and more efficient systems for strategic planning and financial management; supporting the development of advocacy and policy reforms through the establishment of the HE Research and Advocacy Network (HERANA) including the creation of University News; library automation and resource mobilisation; and helping to develop the next set of African academics.

Top amongst the challenges identified by the PHEA for the near future was recruitment, development and retention of African academics. In the view of the PHEA, efforts are needed to strengthen and expand postgraduate capacity, including research productivity, to create institutional policies and practices that nurture junior academics and to adopt natural policy and regulatory environments that help build sustainable institutions and serve development needs.

Among the key lessons cited in the PHEA report were (a) that grants for institutional development must support priority areas identified by the universities themselves, (b) the foundations determined that a policy of going deeper rather than broader was more effective and, (c) a focus on institutional development and transformation rather than sectoral or systemic was more effective.

Source: PHEA (2010)

For more information and all publications from PHEA see http://www.foundation-partnership.org/


 

ANNEX I: HEI PARTNERSHIPS

The University of Jos in Nigeria identified the need to build the institutional capacity and infrastructure for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. It spelt out its aim to reposition iteslf as a centre for excellence in peace and confilct studies and a key reference point in Africa. The University then embarked on a series of foundational activities which resulted in the establishment of the Centre for Conflict Managament and Peace Studies (CECOMPS) in 2002. The estbalishment of CECOMPS was a well though out plan that was factored into the ‘’Second Strategic Plan’’ of the University of Jos. The University decided that it needed to enhance the capacity of CECOMPS for teaching and research in peace and conflict studies.

A consultative mission met at the University of Jos. Its aim was to establish the needs and interests of CECOMPS. One result was a proproasl for the upgrading of the Postgraduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies into a MA programme after two years of running. Whils this was thought to create a great opportunity to enhance capacity building, it also posed several challenges. The biggest challenge was how the capacity of the Centre would be enhanced to be able to undertake such an upgrade.

A consultative workshop prepared the University of Jos to articulate its needs, strengths, limitations and future directions.

The University of Jos then decided that its aim of being a centre of excellence in peace and conflict studies could best be achieved through a partnership programme. Given that the University of Bradford has a long tradition of exposure and excellence as the world’s leading and largest department in peace studies, with a unique advantage of an Africa Centre, it was considered a suitable partner. The partnership was considered to be a means of strengthening the Africa programme of Bradford, while allowing the University of Jos to beneift from the academic excellence of the University of Bradford’s peace studies department.

Source: Wanni et al. The Africa Unit (2010: 23)

 

 

ANNEX J: PRIVATE HEIs IN BRAZIL

While enrolments in private institutions are growing across the world, there are still significant differences across countries in terms of the size and quality of the private sector.

With 74% of all enrolments in private HEIs, Brazil is a critical case in point. The country traditionally had a small number of mainly Catholic private institutions, but from the 1990s, a new breed of private institution started to emerge: teaching focused, commercialised, highly attuned to the market and able to expand in a short time-span. Their main function was to absorb the excess student demand from the public sector.

This rapid expansion — facilitated by the neoliberal policies of the administration in the 1990s — enabled a rapid increase in access to HE with some 4,966,000 of a total of 6,740,000 students enrolled in private institutions in 2013. Yet opinions are divided as to the desirability of this form of expansion (McCowan, 2007). First, many of these institutions are little more than high schools, with poor facilities, uneven quality of teaching, and mainly part-time hourly paid staff. Regulation has proved a challenge for the Brazilian authorities, particularly on account of the financial interests at stake. Second, the growth of the private sector has led to a stratification of opportunity, with the lower cost institutions generally providing a lower quality experience or at least lower prestige of qualification on the job market. Third, there are concerns over transfer of public funds (in the form of loans and tax breaks) to the private sector, particularly in light of the fact that the majority of these institutions are for-profit. Given the apparent dependence of society on the private institutions for absorbing demand, and the limited ability of the public sector to expand, these tensions are unlikely to be resolved in the short term.

Source: Schendel and McCowan (2015)

 


 

ANNEX K: FOUR MODELS OF MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE OF HE SYSTEMS

Governance provides the institutional environment within which the educational enterprise functions. Efficiency in both system and institutional governance is necessary for the educational system to produce the desired results. Good governance includes promoting quality, responsiveness, transparency and accountability in the sector as well as providing it with appropriate standards, incentives and information. The governance of a HE system in a country is a tricky business. On the one hand, the need to produce skilled labour to meet development needs, the amount of public resources devoted to providing HE and the political power that students in HEIs wield suggest the need for government control of HEIs. On the other hand, the need for academic freedom, the freedom to innovate in both teaching and research and the ability to respond to changing environments suggest these institutions need to be free from political control as much as possible. The governance structure of HE that emerges is a balance between these contrasting forces. While some countries set up structures that allow for central government direct control, others set up buffers between the political administration and the governance system. 

GOVERNANCE MODEL

 

STATUS OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES EXAMPLES
State control

 

An agency of the MOE or state owned corporation Malaysia
Semi autonomous

 

An agency of the MOE, a state owned corporation or a statutory body New Zealand

France

Semi independent

 

A statutory body, a charity or a non profit corporation subject or MOE control Singapore
Independent

 

A statutory body, a charity or non profit organisation with no government participation or control but linked to national strategies and related only to public funding Australia

UK

Source: Adapted from Fielden (2008)

The simple typology presented above represents just four models of governance from Fielden (2008)82 which is based on the degree to which the political system has direct control of the decision making process in HE. However, even these extremes are not simple black and white. Within the state control model there has to be some freedom as a central ministry cannot control everything and within the independent model there is an implicit acknowledgement that the MOE is entitled to hold the institution accountable in many respects and must retain overall strategic control of the sector.

 

 

 

ANNEX L: PUBLIC PRIVATE ALLIANCE IN THE IVORY COAST

In the Ivory Coast, innovative experiments have been tried with a view of involving small private operators in student catering and services without the states’ financial participation. To that end, partnerships have been developed with the private sector and areas have been developed (with water, power supply and sewage), for instance, at the public university of Abobo Adjame, where the private operators set up facilities complying with technical specifications drawn up by the university administration. These specifications may include a standard installation layout, the services authorised, opening hours, quality standards and the obligation to provide at least one dish as a minimum price charged in a traditional university restaurant. In such cases, the role of public authorities consists essentially of defining the framework of operations and ensuring compliance with the technical specifications.

Source: The World Bank (2012)

 

 

 

ANNEX M: THE GHANA EDUCATION TRUST FUND

In 2000 the Ghanaian Parliament established the Ghana Education Trust (GET) Fund as a means of financing a more rapid expansion of the country’s education system than was possible on the basis of the Government budget alone. The fund was capitalised by increasing the existing value added tax by 2.5%. These revenues were adding earmarked for capital projects in the education sector, and their use for recurrent expenditures such as salaries is prohibited. By 2007, the GET Fund was generating approximately US$ 200 million annually. HE has received roughly 45% of GET funds since its inception.

The beneficiaries are the staff and students of Ghana’s HEIs. GET funding has been used to construct educational facilities, capitalise a student loan programme, provide scholarships for poor students, staff development, expand ICT infrastructure and support research and teaching activities, particularly the expansion of post graduate programmes and distance education.

The Fund is governed by an independent board of trustees accountable to Parliament and managed by a Government appointed administrator. Each year the fund’s allocation and its specific uses are approved by Parliament to ensure they address the nation’s most pressing educational needs.

Source: The World Bank (2010)

 

 

ANNEX N: THE COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH SUPPORT PROGRAM

USAID’s Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), has been running for over 30 years. It engages US HEIs and DC partners in research capacity building. In 2013 the programme was renamed the ‘Feed the Future Innovation Labs for Collaborative Research’. It is a collection of programmes which, at its core, has a collaborative relationship between HEIs in the US and DCs, including HEIs, research institutions, international research centres, NGOs and private sector entities. Collaborators conduct research on specific development programmes in LMICs and in doing so assist USAID in carrying out the international food and agricultural mandate. The programmes support long term commitments to partnerships that build human and institutional capacity through collaborative research directed at solving development problems in the host country.

In 2012, a review of the CRSP was commissioned by the Board for International Food and Development (BiFAD) with support from USAID and with a broad mission to review and evaluate the programme as a potential model for research capacity building. In doing so it was to assess other models in order to compare their performance.

The report identified a number of strengths of the programme including strong integration of development research and human and institutional capacity building; an interdisciplinary approach that enables the programmes to draw on a variety of analytical approaches, the ability to attract world class scientists in many cases, mutual benefit of the research to US and host countries; substantial leveraging of external resources; broad engagement with 6 US HEIs and 200 agricultural research institutions and significant positive impacts on people’s lives and economic well being.

The report also identifies a number of weaknesses to the programme. Most relevant included the need for more systematic priority setting and aligning of priorities with national and regional development agendas and strategies; the spread of funding to too many small projects; the lack of sufficient USAID oversight and coordination between Washington and the Missions; not enough institutional capacity building with training being done without a clear understanding of institutional performance gaps and not enough investment in rigorous assessments of impact.

Source: USAID (2014)

See also CRSP Review

[1] Ratio of female to male tertiary enrolment is the percentage of women to men enrolled at tertiary level in public and private institutions

 

 

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Early childhood development http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/early-childhood-development/ Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:23:17 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=topic&p=24965 Read more]]>
Executive Summary1. Introduction2. What is integrated ECD?3. Before conception to birth 4. From birth to 2 years (infancy)5. The preschool years – 3 to 5 years6. Transition to school – 6 years onwards7. Conclusion. Towards more integrated ECD

Early childhood development (ECD) has become a priority for research, policy and programming, at national and global level, with increasing recognition of the interconnections between a nation’s development goals and the quality of services for all young girls and boys, and their families. The term ‘ECD’ is increasingly being used to reflect the evidence that young children’s survival, health, care and learning involves interconnected and dynamic growth processes from well before the infant is born through into their early school years.

ECD is thus a broad and complex field, covering multiple policy sectors, and diverse research traditions, but with the aspirations of constructing more inter-sectoral, and more integrated models of services delivery. The Topic Guide offers brief summaries of key research, evaluations and case studies, as well as links to more specialist resources relevant to this vision for ECD. It draws on a very broad range of published research and policy studies, spanning health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); social protection; and education. It includes experimental trials of innovative programmes as well as policy reports on systemic reform. Despite the ambitious scope, inevitably the Topic Guide is not exhaustive, and for example has limited coverage of child protection issues that are also at the heart of an integrated vision for ECD. Specialist services for specific groups, notably young disabled children are also essential within an integrated and inclusive vision, but detailed discussion is beyond the scope of the guide.

The case for working towards more coordinated, more integrated policy, programming, capacity building and research is not new. Early childhood pioneers have emphasised the importance of respecting children’s holistic development for at least two centuries; and flagship national programmes have been built up around service integration principles since the 1960s. There are many lessons to be learned. Introducing effective inter-sectoral integration can be a very positive step forward, but can also be very challenging to deliver in practice, especially in contexts with low resources and weak governance. The priority is to support practical steps towards quality holistic ECD in low- and middle-income countries where services for young children and families are growing rapidly, but not always coherently.

ECD is not just inter-sectoral. It is also dynamic. Just as the foetus, infant, young child and school student experience multiple transformations during their early years, so too, policy and programming must be sensitive to changing needs and priorities at different ages and stages, all embraced within the concept of ‘ECD’. The significance of early childhood can hardly be overstated. Chronologically, it spans nearly the first half of childhood. Developmentally, it is even more significant, shaping all that follows. ECD encompasses several quite distinct early developmental phases. In this Topic Guide we distinguish the period ‘from conception to birth’ from ‘birth to 2 years’, followed by the ‘preschool years’ and the ‘early school years’. These are not precise phases. They are shaped by cultural beliefs and institutional structures, as well as development changes in children’s capacities, vulnerabilities and emerging autonomy; their needs for care, ways of communicating, playing and learning; as well as the patterns of their daily lives in modern societies, including access to ECD services and schools.

The Topic Guide has three specific goals:

  • to summarise evidence across the full age span of ECD, identifying key developmental phases and transitions, beginning before conception through to early grades of school, and also recognising intergenerational and life cycle issues
  • to map the various sectoral entry points for delivering comprehensive holistic ECD services, and highlight the distinct research traditions, key evidence, policy priorities and programmatic expertise associated with each sector
  • to identify opportunities and challenges in achieving more integrated ECD at every level: building inter-sectoral policies, management, programming, professional training, service delivery and research.

Section 1 and Section 2 introduce the topic and the concept of integrated ECD, with an extended case study of one of the longest running national programmes, Integrated Child Development Services, in India, which was initiated in 1975 (see Case Study 1 in Section 2).

Section 3 covers the period before conception, through pregnancy, and including the first weeks after birth. The impacts of a mother’s health, well-being and education on their infant is well documented. Recent research now identifies specific epigenetic pathways from maternal nutrition at the time of conception through to long term development. Section 3 includes brief summaries of evidence on family planning, maternal nutrition and disease prevention, antenatal preparation and birthing practices, breastfeeding, neonatal care and early attachment relationships. Social protection and poverty reduction is an overarching policy priority during pregnancy and the neonatal period, within which specific initiatives can improve the health, well-being and prospects for mother and infant. An extended case study describes the large-scale federal Oportunidades programme in Mexico, introduced in 1997, which combines conditional cash transfers with coordinated health, nutrition and education interventions (see Case Study 2 in Section 3).

Section 4 focuses on the period from 0 to 2 years, when WASH, health and nutrition interventions have traditional prominence, along with early learning support via parenting programmes which are increasingly recognised as crucial within a comprehensive approach. One of the major research insights for this early life phase is that combining nutrition interventions with play-based learning and psychosocial support can have major long-term benefits for children. Section 4 also considers how employment opportunities, laws and practices around parental leave, and access to quality community-based childcare all impact on parents’ capacities and children’s well-being. Birth registration is identified as a crucial first step in children’s and parents’ entitlement to social protection and ECD services, especially for marginalised groups.

Section 5 looks at the 3 to 5 age group, commonly referred to as the ‘preschool years’, which anticipates enrolment into primary school – now a major transition for most of the world’s children. There is a marked shift in the emphasis of policy and research for this age group, with much stronger engagement from the education sector, and a strong tradition of research evaluating the impact of experimental, mainly centre-based, programmes. Multiple replications demonstrate the potential impact on educational and psychosocial outcomes through the life course, in a few cases tracked through into middle age. Several of these ‘classic’ studies have provided the underpinning data of economic analyses on the investment potential of quality ECD programmes, and these are now being widely replicated, including in low-income countries.

Attendance at preschool has growing significance in shaping life course trajectories for children. But in most regions, a very large gulf has opened up between the transformative promises offered by research and policy and the insufficient, often low quality and inequitable realities of access to services for young children and families. For the most part, these services are neither statutory nor compulsory, with limitations of finance and governance and a growing reliance in many low- and middle-income countries on NGO-led, faith-based and private-for-profit initiatives. There is well documented evidence of disadvantaged, disabled, and socially marginalised groups being under-represented – the very groups identified by global research as highest priority.

This age phase has also been a particular focus for experiments in service level inter-sectoral integration, notably through combining care and learning with nutrition, health checks and family support, and founded on evidence that holistic and child-centred interventions are more efficient, more appropriate and more user friendly for this age group – and their families. Integrated goals for this age group are frequently signaled as ‘early childhood care and education’ (ECCE) or ‘early childhood development, care and education’ (ECDCE). An extended case study describes the relatively recent, donor-led Ilifa Labantwana programme in South Africa (see Case Study 9 in Section 5). Ilifa Labantwana aims to influence policy implementation on integrated, scalable ECD interventions in a sustainable manner through a progressive cycle of research, advocacy, capacity building, finance modelling and support for government and providers.

Section 6 is about the transition years into compulsory school, a period dominated by questions around ‘school readiness’, which in this Topic Guide is treated as being not just about ensuring parents and children are prepared for school, but also about reforming school systems to be ‘ready’ for young children: accessible, high quality and inclusive. The dominance of education research and programmes for this age group is balanced in Section 6 with examples of nutrition, WASH and health interventions being integrated within school systems.

Examples of age and sector specific initiatives are offered throughout Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6, as well as more comprehensive and more integrated ECD programmes, from various regions of the world.

Finally, Section 7 of the Topic Guide steps back from specific programmes and research. Ten general conclusions are offered about achieving more integrated, or at the very least more coordinated inter-sectoral ECD, in summary:

  • Integrated ECD recognises that young children’s lives (and their parents’ lives) are lived holistically, not sectorally. Ensuring quality services are ‘joined-up’ at the point of delivery is a first indicator of progress.
  • Full-scale, systemic integration may not always be feasible, nor cost effective, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Building on sector-specific delivery platforms may be a cost effective and pragmatic way forward.
  • Horizontal integration requires coordination between social protection, health, nutrition, WASH, education, child protection, etc. An added challenge is to ensure integration within as well as between sectors.
  • Effective vertical integration links central government policies with local programmes and services, with clear lines of responsibility and effective two-way communications.
  • Vertical integration also includes middle level governance and finance streams, which can be a barrier to effective reform.
  • Effective coordination extends to non-state actors. In many countries the private sector, NGOs, and community groups are very significant service providers.
  • Integrated ECD systems are inclusive, with careful monitoring for equity, and especially targeted to the most marginalised, disadvantaged as well as disabled children.
  • Integrated ECD is also about ensuring continuity between age phases and smooth transitions between age-linked services.
  • Building capacity is a priority at every level. Training of sector specialists remains a priority, but with a shared vision for integrated ECD.
  • Implementing more integrated ECD involves being context sensitive, pragmatic and innovative; working in partnership with other stakeholders, including families and communities as well as children.

The evidence base for policy and programming in ECD is growing in quantity, quality, and consistency for most topics, from a relatively weak starting point only a few decades ago. Geographical and contextual reach has improved for some topics, offering greater confidence about both generalisability of core findings about risks to children’s development and suggesting specific entry points for interventions that have proven effectiveness. Case studies of large scale ECD systems across a range of political and economic contexts also draw attention to contextual considerations that affect policy development and programme implementation, especially regarding more comprehensive and integrated ECD reforms.

1.1          Early childhood development matters

Early childhood development (ECD) has become a priority for research, policy and programming, with increasing recognition of the interconnections between a nation’s development goals and the quality of services for all young girls and boys, and their families. While ECD was not explicitly addressed as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG), the UN Secretary General’s Report to General Assembly, 2010, recognised ECD as core to their achievement:

The Millennium Development Goals are closely interconnected in their impact on the rights of the young child. Poverty, maternal and child survival, nutrition, health, protection from violence, abuse and exploitation, gender equality and human development have short- and long-term consequences for the rights of young children, with implications for future generations, as poverty cycles are reproduced.

Now, a strong case is being made for ECD to be central within post-2015 development goals (Aber et al., 2013; UNSDSN, 2014). The core agenda to ensure that ‘no one is left behind’ – pointing strongly towards effective strategies for early intervention and prevention:

The evidence is clear, investing in ECD leads to gender equality and empowerment, better health and education outcomes, improved skills, abilities and productivity, narrows the income, ethnic, and geographic inequality gaps, provides timely intervention for persons with disabilities, and is a cost effective strategy for eliminating disadvantage.

The positioning of ECD at the heart of global development reflects the convergence of persuasive lines of policy analysis and research evidence that every young child is entitled to survival, to development and education, and that early childhood is a critical period: critical not only for individual children’s development, but for achieving social justice and for the prosperity of societies. Heckman and colleagues have been most influential in translating the case for ECD investment into the language of economics (Heckman, 2008; see also Figure 1 below).

Heckman Curve graph
Figure 1: The ‘Heckman Curve’ – the earlier the investment, the greater the return
(Source: Heckman 2008, figure 18, p. 311.)

Economic analyses of human capital investment largely build on longitudinal evidence from experimental early interventions that have tracked long-term cognitive, psychosocial, educational, social welfare and labour force outcomes (e.g. Schweinhart et al., 2005). They point to the earliest years as most cost effective for delivering returns (van der Gaag and Tan 1998; Barnett, 2009). Recognising the investment potential of ECD is not an alternative to respecting fundamental rights, and engaging the power of ECD to promote social justice and greater equality. Nor is investment in ECD an alternative to more structural poverty reduction strategies. All these lines of argument are complementary in building the case for ECD.

Progress in neuroscience provides scientific underpinning for a renewed emphasis on the critical importance of ECD. Decades of research have demonstrated effects of poverty, institutionalisation, undernutrition, deprivations and trauma, the role of risk and protective factors in children’s relative vulnerability/resilience and the potential for reversibility, and remediation (Rutter, 2006; Wachs and Rahman, 2013). Neuroscience research is beginning to reveal the physical expressions of these processes in the growing and changing structure and function of the brain (Oates et al., 2012; Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000; Center on the Developing Child, 2011). Toxic stress from early childhood adversity can lead to changes in learning, behavior and physiology. Physiological disruptions increase the chance of stress-related chronic disease which can further widen health disparities (Shonkoff et al., 2012).

Strong associations between poverty and child development outcomes have been found amongst preschool children within developing countries (Fernald et al., 2012a; 2012b) which contribute to the transmission of inequalities through childhood (Woodhead et al., 2013). A powerful catalyst for global policy engagement in these issues has been a series in The Lancet, which estimated that “…200 million children under 5 years fail to reach their potential in cognitive development because of poverty, poor health and nutrition, and deficient care” (Grantham-McGregor et al., 2007, p. 60). Subsequent papers in the series have elaborated on this ‘loss of developmental potential’ and on the evidence for effective early prevention and intervention (Engle et al., 2007; 2011; Walker et al., 2011).

Some areas of ECD research on these issues is robust and powerful, but with many gaps in applied research into programme effectiveness and implementation, with some geographies and age groups receiving much more attention than others. Also, rapid economic and social development is shifting the context of ECD policy and programming, for example: inequality and social inclusion is becoming a major challenge in rapidly urbanising and mobile low- and middle-income countries (Pells and Woodhead, 2014); school readiness issues now dominate in contexts where Education for All (EFA) goals for access to primary education have been achieved (Britto, 2012); and planning effective ECD interventions for parents and children in fragile states, post-disaster contexts, and disease emergencies becomes an increasing priority (UNICEF, 2011).

One of the biggest challenges for research, policy and programming is to build more integrated ECD systems: comprehensive, equitable, high quality services that span all sectors, client groups and age groups. Reviewing the evidence, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Margaret Chan confirm that:

…to be most effective, interventions must be intersectoral, going beyond education to encompass health, nutrition, and protection. The healthy development of a child’s brain depends on multiple positive experiences. Nutrition feeds the brain; stimulation sparks the mind; love and protection buffer the negative impact of stress and adversity. And distinct interventions are mutually supportive, achieving the strongest results when delivered together.

1.2          Goals for the Topic Guide

The overall aim of this Topic Guide is to offer an overview of the rapidly growing field of ECD, Three specific goals have shaped the Topic Guide:

  • to summarise evidence across the full age span of ECD, identifying key developmental phases and transitions, beginning before conception through to early grades of school, and also recognising intergenerational and life cycle issues
  • to map the various sectoral entry points for delivering comprehensive holistic ECD services, and highlight the distinct research traditions, key evidence, policy priorities and programmatic expertise associated with each sector
  • to identify opportunities and challenges in achieving more integrated ECD at every level: building inter-sectoral policies, management, programming, professional training, service delivery and research.

The rest of this section elaborates on these goals; explains how the Topic Guide is organised, including the use of research summaries, case studies and links to wider resources; and summarises the approach taken in the Topic Guide to assessing quality of evidence.

A life cycle perspective on ECD

Early childhood is formally defined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as “the period below the ages of 8 years” (OHCHR, 2005, p.2). For this Topic Guide, we define early childhood to include the period from around conception, in recognition that critical influences on ECD begin long before the infant is born, and even before the infant is conceived. On this definition, ECD covers a full eight years, nearly the first half of childhood. ECD is even more significant developmentally, as the most formative and critical period of the human life course, which shapes all that follows.

A life cycle framework is intergenerational, extending to the health, well-being, and ultimately the survival of the young woman on whom her newborn infant(s) will depend to survive, thrive and develop throughout their childhood and beyond. A life cycle framework also includes the role and capacity of fathers, siblings, other household members and caregivers, and wider kin and community, in supporting mothers’ well-being and infant development. Ultimately, what happens to children before they are 8 years old will shape life course trajectories through to becoming parents themselves.

The growing infant is highly responsive to the positive impact of a secure household, a healthy environment, good nutrition, quality care, and opportunities for play and learning. By the same token, every young girl or boy is highly susceptible to the negative consequences of deprivations, risks and shocks, inequalities and discrimination, related to their gender, ethnicity, disability, household poverty or location. Inequities at the beginning of life can be accentuated over the life cycle but ECD can also lay the foundations for greater equality and inclusive social and economic development (UNESCO, 2007).

Identifying the multiple pathways for harnessing ECD to achieve gender equality reinforces the argument for framing ECD within a life cycle perspective:

ECD offers several pathways through which gender equality can be achieved. The first pathway is through programs that directly serve the child, such as childcare and development, early learning, and preschool programs (formal and non-formal). This pathway improves outcomes for the girl child herself… A second pathway is through the benefits of ECD programs for the other female members of the family. When mothers are at work or otherwise unavailable, older sisters are often substitute parents for younger siblings. Evaluation data from several communities with ECD programs has demonstrated an improvement in girls’ enrolment in primary school…. Furthermore, mothers benefit economically from the provision of ECD services.

Moreover, a woman’s well-being directly affects the development of her child through childhood and into adolescence. For girls especially, deprivations during ECD transmit into adolescent outcomes, which in turn impact the next generation; vividly illustrated through life cycle analysis of the risks of undernutrition (Yousafzai et al., 2013).

In summary, the first goal of the Topic Guide is to highlight the importance of a life cycle perspective on ECD. Four broad age phases are identified in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6, including core research evidence, evaluations and case studies that can inform policy and programming relevant to each age group.

Multi-sectoral and comprehensive

Secondly, the Topic Guide recognises ECD as (by definition) a multi-sectoral field for policy and programming and a multi-disciplinary field for research and evaluation. ECD has seen huge investment of research and policy effort, with significant knowledge systems now available, and well articulated expertise spanning health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); child protection; education; and social protection. Growing sectoral expertise is one of the strengths of current ECD, but also highlights one of the strongest challenges.

Each sector has a more or less well articulated conceptualisation of ECD priorities: about malnutrition and stunting, disease and vaccination, violence and child protection, early intervention and special needs, or preschool education and school readiness. It has been less common for an early education expert to engage with research on social protection, or an expert in care of newborns to consider factors affecting children’s health in school, and vice-versa. It is increasingly recognised that these ECD domains are interconnected and synergistic in terms of their impact on young children’s developmental pathways. For example, undernutrition impacts children’s physical development and makes them more vulnerable to disease. Undernutrition also impacts intellectual development, and in turn educational progress. There is also good evidence of long-term consequences for psychosocial well-being (Dercon and Sanchez, 2013).

Sectoral experts also prioritise specific age phases as most critical, with health-focused initiatives dominating the very earliest months and years, and education initiatives much more prominent during preschool and school transition years. The period between around 2 and 4 years old generally receives less attention from all sectors. Needless to say, children and their families don’t generally perceive their lives in sectoral terms, and children can be at risk where services are not ‘joined up’. The overall picture resembles a patchwork in many countries where it is urgent to move towards a more integrated vision.

Integrated ECD systems

A third goal for the Topic Guide is to identify steps towards achieving more integrated ECD systems – in other words moving from ‘multi-sectoral’ to ‘inter-sectoral’ – and effectively spanning different sectors and age phases within a holistic understanding of human development.

Objectives for more integrated ECD include:

  • to realise every young child’s right to survival, development and education, recognising the interdependencies between nutrition, health, learning, and psychosocial development
  • to support parents and other caregivers in fulfilling their responsibilities and achieving their aspirations for their children, including through social protection programmes, employment and housing policies as well as core sectors concerned with children
  • to provide more coherent, ‘joined-up’ services at the point of delivery, in ways that improve accessibility and relevance to children’s and families’ daily lives in rapidly changing societies
  • to improve long-term outcomes in health, learning and well-being through adolescence and into adulthood, including intergenerational benefits
  • to improve equity for all girls and boys, irrespective of their economic and social circumstances, abilities or disabilities, through services that are comprehensive, inclusive and high quality
  • to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness of ECD sectors and systems in delivering ECD goals in partnership with parents and communities
  • to foster evidence-based innovation in delivery of sustainable ECD programmes, especially in low resource contexts where professional capacity and governance systems may be at early stages of construction.

Building comprehensive policies, programmes and services that are holistic, inclusive and cover the full age span is one of the greatest challenges for the coming decades, especially in low resource contexts:

The entry points to influence young children’s development are diverse and involve multiple stakeholders. The various sectoral policies that affect ECD outcomes include healthcare and hygiene, nutrition, education, poverty alleviation, and social and child protection. These policies can be aimed at the pregnant woman, the child, the caregiver or the family as a whole. Interventions can take place in many environments, including the home, at a preschool or childcare center, a hospital or community centers.

Steps towards achieving more integrated ECD range from the most modest coordination and collaboration through to full-scale system reform and physical integration of services. These options are introduced in Section 2 and revisited again in Section 7.

1.3          Conceptual framework

A bio-ecological conceptual model is helpful as a starting point for a Topic Guide on holistic, multi-sectoral ECD. It is a systemic model that identifies multiple potential entry points and delivery platforms for ECD. The most obvious proximal entry points are the programmes in which young children participate. But the model also recognises distal entry points, including laws and regulations, social protection programmes, especially those that alter parents’ capacities to support their children’s development.

The growth of the young child (including the resources and risks for his or her development) are shaped by (as well as shaping) ‘micro-systems’ within the household and immediate environment (notably with the mother, father, siblings, other caregivers), which gradually extend into wider community contexts of health clinic, preschool, church, etc. The interconnections amongst these micro-systems comprise the ‘meso-system’, which more indirectly shapes each girl or boy’s development, notably links between parents and health workers, teachers, or church leaders. More distal ‘exo-system’ influences include mothers’ and/or fathers’ employment as this constrains their resources of time and money for housing, nutrition, learning resources and childcare. Public health infrastructure, transport networks, media and communications are also part of the ‘exo-system’. Each of these sub-systems is in turn embedded in a ‘macro-system’ of laws, policies, and institutions, across multiple sectors, as well as the cultural norms and values that moderate their impact on children’s lives. Finally, these are dynamic systems, within and across generations, signaled by the concept of ‘chrono-system’ (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; see Tudge et al., 2009 for a more recent review; see Figure 2).

 

A bio-ecological systems model of ECD
Figure 2: A bio-ecological systems model of ECD
(Source: Adapted from Bronfenbrenner (1979). The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments in Nature and Design.)

ECD interventions vary according to their sector focus, system focus and delivery platform:

  • Many interventions target the mother-baby micro-system, notably support for early neo-natal care, breastfeeding, early nutrition, attachment and learning. These may be delivered at a birthing clinic, community health facility or through home visiting.
  • Traditional ECD programmes are about constructing specialised micro-systems focused on childcare, early play and learning (notably various forms of preschool) which transition into more formal education. Each of these micro-system interventions is associated with specific goals and personnel at various skill levels.
  • Meso-system influences are often central to ECD goals, notably via parent education and support programmes, as well as many community-based initiatives.
  • Modern media offer new opportunities to supplement more traditional programmes, notably through television and digital technologies: targeted at parents (e.g. through key health messages); and/or to children themselves (e.g. through children’s television programmes, such as Sesame Street).
  • A wide spectrum of initiatives (across multiple sectors) are focused on improving the child’s exo-system, including creating more healthy environments, in terms of housing and WASH, ensuring basic safety and child protection as well as enabling children’s primary caregivers with the resources, time and capacities to support development, including via employment laws, parental leave programmes and social protection.
  • More comprehensive ECD reforms recognise that macro-system reform is essential in order to deliver long-term and sustainable programmes and services. ECD policy development is crucial as a starting point for identifying the most cost effective entry points within specific country systems, with account taken of the potential for municipal, community and NGO-led programmes, the role of donors, as well as potential scope for building public private partnerships.

Adding a timeline (age and stage) dimension into Figure 2 reinforces that ECD processes and systems are dynamic, and while some interventions are age-critical, others are more continuous:

  • Age-critical interventions include preparation of adolescents and mothers-to-be, support at birth, birth registration, establishing early breastfeeding and infant care systems, and vaccination against disease.
  • Interventions focused on broader age phases, include parent education, as well as preschools and the early grades of primary school.
  • Some programmes are more continuous through early childhood and beyond, notably social protection, WASH and health services, with specific delivery platforms tailored to children’s shifting micro-systems within households, communities, preschools and schools.

1.4          Scope and organisation of the Topic Guide

The main emphasis of this Topic Guide is on evidence relevant to low- and middle-income countries where strengthening ECD is a very high priority, but achieving an effective ECD system can be very challenging. Section 2 introduces the concept of more integrated ECD in more detail. This Topic Guide encompasses WASH, health, nutrition, education and social protection, as in Figure 3. These sectoral starting points recur through the Topic Guide, but with the aim to draw attention to opportunities for more inter-sectoral policy and programming via a variety of delivery platforms.

Specific topics are linked to four broad age phases in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Topic Guide. The identification of age phases draws attention to the range of policy responses, services and professional capacities that are needed within an integrated ECD system, each tailored to significant stages and transitions in this most dynamic period of the human life cycle. Each of these age phases requires a package of coordinated programmes and services.

Mapping of age phases across sectors
Figure 3: Mapping of age phases across sectors

Figure 3 provides an overall mapping of age phases across all sectors, identifying specific entry points and interventions, most of which are elaborated in later sections. It is important to emphasise that the Topic Guide is not exhaustive of the opportunities for strengthening ECD, nor are the topics in specific age phases necessarily exclusively relevant to that age phase. See Britto et al. (2011) and Denboba et al. (2014, forthcoming) for other comprehensive frameworks.

Section 3 covers the period before conception, through pregnancy, and including the first weeks after birth. Section 4 focuses on the earliest years of infancy, when WASH, health and nutrition interventions have traditional prominence, along with early learning support via parenting programmes which are increasingly recognised as crucial within a comprehensive approach. Section 5 looks at the preschool years, when children aged around 3 to 5 years are increasingly enrolling in early childhood care and education programmes. This age phase has been a particular focus for experiments in service level integration. Section 6 is about the transition years into compulsory school, a period dominated by issues around school readiness, which in this Topic Guide is balanced with examples of nutrition, WASH and health interventions for the age group.

Examples of age and sector specific initiatives are offered throughout Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6, as well as more integrated ECD programmes, from various regions of the world. Finally, Section 7 of the Topic Guide steps back from specific programmes and research, offers ten general conclusions relevant to planning for more integrated – or at the very least more coordinated ECD services.

This Topic Guide covers a vast field of research, policy and programme experience. Inevitably, treatment of individual topics is relatively brief, intended to identify key research and provide illustrative case studies, with links to more detailed treatment elsewhere. Entry points that are tied in this Topic Guide to specific age phases are often cross-cutting, such as social protection and poverty alleviation programmes which apply to all age phases.

We also acknowledge gaps in the Topic Guide’s coverage, notably in the area of child protection. It is estimated that two thirds of young children experience some type of violence or harsh discipline, and some are victims of abuse and neglect, exploitation and trafficking (UNICEF, 2014). Strengthening child protection should be a feature of any ECD programme, as well as specific agencies or programmes dedicated to child protection. Also, inclusive services, including specialist diagnostics, early intervention for disabled children and other at risk groups are required for all age phases, but we can only give cursory treatment in this Topic Guide.

1.5          Assessment of evidence strength

This Topic Guide offers a brief introduction and guide to key research and programme evaluations across a vast field encompassed by ECD. It is not an exhaustive review of the evidence on any of the specific topics covered. Specialist systematic reviews have been a major resource, along with reports on specific sector-based research and evaluations. The Topic Guide also includes: (i) case studies of major national programmes that offer lessons on scaling-up integrated ECD, with evidence as available; (ii) systematically evaluated and rigorous interventions and pilot projects, including randomised control trials that demonstrate efficacy of specific interventions, with long term follow up evidence where available; (iii) innovative examples of steps towards more comprehensive and integrated ECD in various countries and regions.

One ongoing challenge for developmental science is the dominance of normative evidence, drawn from a narrow range of (mainly affluent Western) contexts informing core ‘textbook’ knowledge about how young children learn, the importance of secure attachment relationships, the role of parents, etc. Bornstein et al. (2012) estimate that less than 10% of research in developmental science comes from regions inhabited by 90% of the world’s population, with consequent over reliance on relatively small numbers of localised studies. Well designed studies are becoming much more widespread, which provides a stronger basis for drawing general conclusions, especially about probable effectiveness of interventions, and providing more nuanced contextual accounts that may shape appropriate interventions.

Dividing early childhood into age-phases is another normative feature of the developmental paradigm, which has been followed in this Topic Guide. In doing so, we acknowledge there is a risk of privileging chronological age as the major consideration for ECD programming. Societies vary in how far chronological age has traditionally been recognised and treated as the benchmark for expectations about children’s capacities, roles, responsibilities and use of time (Woodhead, 2009). The needs of young children have been understood very differently according to local convention and practices around the treatment of young girls and boys at different ages, and the extent to which individual differences are recognised (Harkness et al., 2013). Rapid social change is shifting these traditional beliefs, including the impact of universal birth registration, and age-graded education systems. The significance of research location, disaggregation by gender, disability, minority group status, poverty, intra-household dynamics, etc. is highlighted wherever possible, especially in the sections on inclusion and equity (notably 5.4; 6.4; and 7.7).

In preparing this Topic Guide we have assessed the strength of the evidence that we have used, based on the DFID Note on Assessing the Strength of Evidence (2014).

Given the wide ranging scope, and the diverse literatures drawn on, the Topic Guide does not formally assess single studies but does indicate throughout where evidence is especially strong, and where there are gaps. The overall assessment is given in Table 1. The Topic Guide also offers summary assessments tables for evidence reviewed in the major age phase Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6. These summary assessments are only indicative, and cannot encapsulate the full range of evidence cited.

Table 1: Overall evidence strength assessment for the ECD Topic Guide

Quality of evidence: Size of body of evidence: Consistency of results: Context
Variable, covering the full range of research designs, scale and rigour Medium but highly variable between topics Mixed but with consistent evidence on many topics Increasingly global with notable geographical gaps for some topics

As the quantity, quality and geographical range of ECD research increases, greater confidence can be offered about both generalisability of core findings about risks to children’s development and specific entry points for interventions that have proven effectiveness. Case studies of large-scale ECD systems across diverse political and economic contexts also draw attention to contextual considerations in policy development and programme implementation, especially the challenges of achieving more integrated ECD systems.

Some areas of research have received large investment (notably nutrition and health research). Other studies are growing but still patchy, especially systematic evaluations of innovative approaches to integrated service delivery in the poorest countries, and for the most disadvantaged groups, notably in Africa. Priorities include:

  • consolidating the quantity and focus of longitudinal evaluations of specific interventions in diverse contexts and geographies
  • research into innovative ECD delivery platforms including building on existing sectoral systems to achieve more inter-sectoral goals
  • capacity building initiatives at all levels, including specialist sectoral training and broad based para-professional training and parent support
  • evaluations of scale-up for targeted programmes that can promote equity and social inclusion from infancy through to school
  • governance and finance studies including on best ways to harness public, private and community initiatives towards more comprehensive and integrated services, in ways that are well managed, high quality and cost effective.

In a financial context that strongly prioritises cost effectiveness as well as programme effectiveness, value for money issues are crucial, especially when reviewing for example: a centre-based versus home visiting programme; or capacity building options based around a balance of high versus basic skill ECD specialists; or sectoral versus more integrated approaches. Cost effectiveness of ECD investment is powerfully demonstrated by leading economists, notably Heckman and colleagues (Heckman, 2006; 2008; Section 1). The World Bank has developed tools for analysing costs and benefits, including an ‘ECD Calculator’ (World Bank, 2014), mainly focused on school readiness indicators. The most recent World Bank report illustrates costs, impacts and returns on investment across a wide range interventions (Denboba et al., 2014 forthcoming, p. 3). Further work is needed to develop and apply ‘value for money’ tools, including assessing cost effectiveness of more integrated programmes with more comprehensive ECD outcomes.

This Topic Guide has three major goals, as outlined in Section 1: to summarise evidence on ECD; to map sectoral entry points; and to identify opportunities for more integrated ECD. There is universal agreement that ECD is by definition multi-sectoral. There is also widespread agreement that achieving more integrated ECD – moving from ‘multi-sectoral’ to ‘inter-sectoral’ – is more effective and cost effective. There is much less consensus about the feasibility or realistic prospect of full-scale ‘integration’ of ECD systems (from policy to service delivery) compared to more modest and pragmatic solutions. This section provides an introduction to this overarching issue.

In its guidance on rights in early childhood, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reminds States parties:

…that the right to survival and development can only be implemented in a holistic manner, through the enforcement of all the other provisions of the Convention, including rights to health, adequate nutrition, social security, an adequate standard of living, a healthy and safe environment, education and play (Arts. 24, 27, 28, 29 and 31), as well as through respect for the responsibilities of parents and the provision of assistance and quality services (arts. 5 and 18). From an early age, children should themselves be included in activities promoting good nutrition and a healthy and disease-preventing lifestyle.

Integrated ECD starts from the simple and compelling idea of comprehensive services that avoid fragmentation and bring together sectors and stakeholders at every level (ministries, professionals, policies, programmes, services, communities, parents and children) in the shared mission: to give every girl and boy the best start in life. But delivering on this simple and compelling idea can be very complex and controversial, depending on the political and financial context and capacity for reform, the pre-existing infrastructures and the priorities of donors, NGOs and other change agents.

2.1          A brief history of integrated ECD

Integrating early childhood services (notably nutrition, health and education) is not a new idea. Holistic visions of early childhood can be traced back many centuries, and translated into child-centred nurseries and kindergartens, originating especially in Europe, North America and other industrialised Western societies. Early examples include:

  • The comprehensive US Federal anti-poverty programme Head Start was initiated in 1964, in parallel with numerous smaller scale research-based interventions (Zigler and Styfco, 2004).
  • The Government of India initiated the national Integrated Child Development Services, ICDS programme in 1975 (see Case Study 1).
  • Innovative integration was already being achieved at a central government level in Sweden by 1975, when the National Board of Health and Welfare took responsibility for all preschool services, with a shift to the Ministry of Education in 1995 (Segal, 2010).
  • Around the same period, the Netherlands took steps to integrate preschool with early stages of the primary education cycle (Woodhead, 1979).

Ministry-level coordination is more common than full ministerial integration, while service level integration has been more widely introduced, for example in the form of multi-sectoral, multi-service ‘children’s centres’ in the UK (Siraj-Blatchford and Siraj-Blatchford, 2010). Steps towards greater professional coordination are a prerequisite for integrated ECD, beginning with professional training, illustrated by the evolution of the ‘social pedagogue’ in Nordic countries as a more holistic approach to working with young children (Cameron and Moss, 2011). Achieving integration is not just about system-level reform and innovation. Fundamentally, it is about respecting the interdependencies amongst young children’s fundamental needs, rights and domains of development respecting their distinctive ways of communicating, playing and learning, their vulnerabilities and their capacities, and the extraordinary series of transformations and transitions during the earliest years of life. It is also about recognising the diversity of contexts for ECD and capacities of parents or other caregivers to support their children’s development. It must also be acknowledged that the field of ECD is distinctive in the plurality of visions for young children, expressed through diverse programme models, curricula and pedagogies.

The first detailed example in this Topic Guide is appropriately the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), initiated by the Government of India in 1975. ICDS is one of the earliest established, most ambitious, and largest scale integrated programme in (at that time 1975) a low-income country. Summarising ICDS draws attention to some of the major challenges facing comprehensive, multi-sectoral initiatives, which will be elaborated through later sections of the Topic Guide.

Case Study 1: Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), India

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is the Government of India’s flagship child welfare programme which began in 1975 as a national comprehensive programme, delivered through community-based, local and often quite small Anganwadi centres (‘Courtyard Shelter’), typically led by a local woman who has received basic training in ECD (Streuli et al. 2011). Numerically, ICDS is still the largest early childcare programme in the world, with 1.4 million Anganwadi centres operational by December, 2010. The number of child beneficiaries nearly doubled between 2003-04 and 2008-09 (from 377 million to 725 million) (DESI, 2010).

The first goal of ICDS has been to improve nutrition in a country which even in 2013 still had alarmingly high rates of malnutrition and stunting, affecting 61.7 million, or 48% of all under-5s in India. But ICDS has always been holistic, as currently expressed through five ambitions (Programme Evaluation Organisation, 2011):

  • Improve the nutritional and health status of children below the age of 6 years and that of pregnant and lactating mothers as well as of adolescent girls.
  • Lay the foundations for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child.
  • Reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition, and school dropout.
  • Achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation among various departments to promote child development.
  • Enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper health and nutrition education.

Anganwadis aim to deliver on these goals via supplementary feeding of children under 6 and growth monitoring; immunisation; health check-ups; referral services; antenatal and postnatal care of mothers; nutrition and health education; and non-formal preschool education for 3 hours a day for children aged 3-6 years.

At constant prices (1999), budgetary allocation to ICDS by the central government increased nearly three-fold between 2003-04 and 2008-09, and by 2010-11 was INR 87 billion. A Programme Evaluation Organisation study (2011) of ICDS covered 19,500 households across 100 districts in 35 states and estimated ICDS’s coverage of children aged 6 months to 72 months as 31%.

Main findings on the impact of ICDS are:

  • ICDS has had a significant impact on improving the rates of breastfeeding immediately after birth. The percentage of children breastfed within an hour of their birth is 10% higher in the case of ICDS beneficiaries than children not covered by ICDS.
  • The proportion of underweight children in India declined from 51.5% in 1992-93 to 40.4% in 2005-06. ICDS had a positive effect on nutritional status in some states but not in others.
  • Overall, ICDS has had a positive but marginal impact on immunisation rates of children. It has had a significant impact in the case of measles immunisation.
  • Nationally, the preschool component of ICDS has had a small positive impact on enrolment at primary school and reduced dropout. 5% more ex-ICDS children attend primary schools, than children who haven’t been enrolled in ICDS.
  • There is considerable variation in preschool provision between states. A Ministry of Women and Child Development report (2013, p. 16) states there is, “Overwhelming evidence that the preschool education component of the ICDS scheme is particularly deficient in quality, and almost non-existent in anganwadis, in some parts of the country.”

Recently, high parent demand for preschool education has led to an increasing yhhtrend in many states of India for parents with sufficient resources to abandon Anganwadis in favour of enrolling their children in the lower kindergarten classes of ‘low-fee’ private primary schools, that offer early initiation into academic learning, with the added attraction of English-medium teaching (Woodhead and Streuli, 2013; James and Woodhead, 2014).

These evaluations draw attention to many of the challenges of delivering an integrated programme on such a massive scale. Many Anganwadi centres are insufficiently resourced to deliver the ambitious goals of ICDS. In many cases, they are operating in a totally inadequate building, without safe drinking water, nor space for children to play. Regulations to govern basic infrastructure are weakly implemented. Anganwadi workers are often overburdened, underpaid and have only very basic training, and learning materials are generally inadequate (Programme Evaluation Organisation, 2011). The scale of ICDS places a huge financial burden, and as a rule, Anganwadi centres are under-resourced in practice. Moreover, the Programme Evaluation Organisation report (2011) identifies a big discrepancy between reported expenditure and actual resources at programme level. For example, only 40% of reported expenditure on supplementary nutrition could be accounted for in service delivery, and a large proportion of funds intended for supplementary nutrition were siphoned off, which highlights the absence of a results-oriented monitoring mechanism in ICDS.

Adequate interdepartmental cooperation has also been a challenge for ICDS, especially coordination among providers of complementary services such as health facilities and water and sanitation. Finally, delivering on the core goals of ICDS has been hampered by inequities in access. The Anganwadi model is celebrated for being able to reach remote and marginalised communities, led by local women who are respected within the community. But overall the states with the greatest need for the programme, the poor northern states with high levels of child m