Education in Harmony: Supporting Syrian refugees and the Egyptian host community
Submitted by: Richard Sandison, Team Leader - Centre of Excelelnce: Adoloscent Girls in Crisis, Plan International
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
2015 - 2018
Education in Harmony (EiH) supports the intersecting areas of education and child protection to ensure that vulnerable girls and boys have an improved access to protective and quality school and community environments in 25 public and 15 community schools. In order to achieve this goal, Plan International Egypt led this project in partnership with the Ministry of Education, four local NGO implementing partners, as well as governorate-level education departments.
The project supported physical improvements and capacity building for teachers, education management and students. Over the course of the project there were approximately 59,044 direct beneficiaries (30% Syrian refugees and 70% Egyptian nationals) and 235,000 indirect beneficiaries who were targeted for a total outreach of 294,044.
The objectives included:
- Increased ability of communities and schools to address barriers to education for vulnerable girls and boys
- Enhanced quality of gender responsive, inclusive and protective learning environments of pre-primary and primary education for refugee and host community children 4-14 years old.
The $3.22m project was funded as part of Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC’s) Egypt Development Program.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Plan International Egypt initiated a partnership with the state-affiliated Professional Academy for Teachers for the development of accredited training materials and modules for capacity building of teachers and educational personnel. This included the development and accreditation of the Education in Harmony manual/training kit on child rights and protection, gender equality, inclusion, positive communication, conflict management and psychosocial support.
Other key activities were the distribution of voucher-based education kits to 17,174 students, rehabilitation of 364 classrooms to ensure a safe and gender responsive environment for girls and boys, upgrading of 90 gender sensitive water and sanitation infrastructure. Peace promoting activities were also conducted, embracing diversity, non-discrimination and non-violence for 13,158 students. School coordination teams were trained in leadership and planning, including monitoring of vulnerable children.
Students in all target schools were engaged in training sessions and school-wide dissemination events, focusing on children’s perspectives on how schools can become safe, hygienic and child-friendly learning environments. A structured learning process was initiated, this included mainstreaming child rights, protection and participation as well as gender equality into WASH-focused activities to simultaneously increase girls’ and boys’ awareness of sanitation and hygiene, and strengthen the inclusion, harmony and equal participation of Syrian and Egyptian girls and boys.
Government of Egypt, Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC’s), 4 local NGOs (implementing partners)
Challenges and how they were overcome
A key challenge was the Ministry of Education’s reluctance to integrate gender equality in training modules developed for training of their personnel and students.
Stakeholders observed that EiH interventions such as remedial classes, and school kits improved access to education by addressing financial barriers for vulnerable children and their families. However, school principals, teachers and parents observed that the distribution of school kits for both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Egyptian students served to further stigmatize poor and vulnerable children. Despite agreeing on the vulnerability-based selection criteria and the consequent inclusion of all Syrian students, schools reported the remaining students felt left out, and/or students who received the kits were recognisable despite the diverse options.This resulted in a counter-effect to that intended for this activity as part of a whole intervention that seeks social cohesion and integration of Syrian refugee and vulnerable Egyptian students among their peers, particularly in public schools.
How they were overcome:
The program introduced gender equality aspects into training modules for educational personnel under the broader context of inclusion, mutual respect, equality and justice; or as an aspect of building safe and protective learning environment, and in discussions of challenges to keeping girls and boys in schools with duty bearers.
Results of the Good Practice
• Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) findings indicate that the project has been effective in its achievement of knowledge, attitude and behaviour change among students, parents and teachers.
• Improved interactions between teachers and students, parents and school management; and perceptions of schools as gender and child friendly environments.
• Project interventions such as equipment provision, extracurricular activities, and renovations have contributed to a higher level of stakeholder satisfaction with the quality of basic education.
• Contextual factors including residency expiration dates for Syrian refugees in project locations; and frequent re-locations of children and their families to pursue economic opportunities also influenced enrollment.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
Integrated education and protection programming in protracted crises requires multi-year projects for solid partnerships to be established between governments and civil society, in order to provide efficient assistance to vulnerable refugee and host-community children, particularly building resilience and preparedness of existing structures for longer-term goals that bridge the humanitarian-development gap.