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Education and Fragility - Key Issues



The World Bank recognizes that in order to maximize the impact of education on economic growth and poverty reduction by providing support for achieving Education for All and the MDG that it must design programs that accommodate fragile circumstances.

The Education and Fragile States approach is an attempt to design, implement and share lessons learnt of specific activities that will promote quality education, state-building and the likelihood of violent conflict.  The following issues represent the modes of intervention in which the World Bank seeks to implement its activities.  The following issues represent the most neglected within the education sector, and offer the optimal opportunity for the Bank to leverage its experience for the greatest impact.   In the same regard further neglect concerning the following issues will only contribute to rapid deterioration of many volatile environments.

Teacher Policy and Management

  • Fragility, especially that emanating from economic collapse, official state neglect and/or conflict, has a profound and negative impact on a country’s teacher corps.
  • The lack physical security and protection of teachers in hostile environments prevents teachers from performing their jobs effectively-if at all.
  • Teachers returning to their profession either in new or their original communities must be integrated so that they adequately welcomed.
  • The rebuilding of the education sector -during times of conflict teachers too also may have contributed (directly and indirectly) to hostile behavior, and/or may have had experiences that call for psychosocial support for teachers.
  • During humanitarian assistance and early recovery responses in fragile situations, teachers are often employed by communities or NGOs with a wide range of working conditions, qualifications and remuneration that is often significantly out of alignment with salaries paid to teachers in public employment.
  • Compensation schemes both monetary and non-monetary need to be rapidly established in order to provide in incentive and financial stability for teachers. (See INEE work on teacher compensation)


  • Financing issues lie at the heart of most challenges confronting education in fragile situations. Of the 30 low income fragile countries for which data is available, 19 (63%) are highly dependent on aid, with aid to GNP ratios above 10%, and 7 (23%) are very highly dependent on aid, with aid to GDP ratios above 25%.
  • Best practices that have an immediate and far-reaching impact on local institutions need to be indentified and shared. For example, does the elimination of tuition fees or radical decentralization of financing responsibilities serve to strengthen institutional development in fragile states?
  • According to some estimates conflict-affected fragile states (CAFS) only receive 1/5 of education aid despite being home to half of the worlds out of school population. 

Youth Skills Development and Employment

  • People between the ages of 12 and 24 constitute 1.5 billion of the world’s population; 1.3 billion of them live in developing countries .  In the context of post conflict environments-youth and transitional governments are increasingly relying on the education system to provide assistance so that youth populations can constructively engage in civil society and the formal economy.
  • In addition to economic concerns associated with high rates of unemployment, high numbers of unemployed youth are perceived as a potential threat to stability and peace. There are concerns that unskilled, underemployed and unemployed youth are susceptible to extreme behavior including violence and crime.
  • Education systems in fragile states are often tasked with reintegrating child soldiers and young adults back into the educational system. As a result some education systems have tried to provide “catch-up classes”, “second chance schooling” and “accelerated learning programs” to help address a perceived learning deficit. What is not well documented is how effective these programs have been in regard to promoting peace and stability, nor if one particular reintegration strategy is more effective than another, and under what conditions.
  • Beyond basic education: there is limited information on the type of education (vocational versus academic) or the approaches (conventional schooling versus alternative learning approaches) that are best suited for youth in fragile and conflict-affected environments, and which contextual factors should influence these choices. Moreover, there are often gaps that exist between demands from the labor market and the types of skills being taught by the school system.

Education That Fosters Peace and Stability: A Cross Cutting Theme

  • Education as a Driver of Conflict or Stability: Education systems can serve to promote social cohesion and peace or they can have adverse effects by advocating violence. Education systems are often seen by ethnic, religious and racial minorities as a potential means of exclusion or unequal oppression. Access to schooling, distorted or biased curricula, unsafe schools or institutionalized violence in schools can be a significant contributory factor in fragility and conflict.
  • Schools, teachers, and students can be exploited by various groups including state governments, political organizations, civil groups and religious institutions to support instability. Educators and students can have a far reaching impact on their society and therefore education systems in the context of fragile states should engage society in a manner that promotes state-building and and social cohesion.
  • Better Data: In order to promote education that can mitigate fragility and conflict, education as development must be couched and measured in a manner that gauges its effects on peace building. Specific indicators and outputs must be identified so that both quantitative and qualitative data can inform development initiatives.

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