Open Access Capstone
Education in emergencies is a necessity that can be both life sustaining and life saving To this end, the development of the Minimum Standards in Education for Emergencies, Chronic Crisis and Early Reconstruction (MSEE) is an expression of commitment by major stakeholders that all individuals in crisis situations deserve quality education. While development of the MSEE is a commendable effort towards addressing issues of access, quality and accountability in program implementation, achievement of the standards is contingent on factors that are far more complex and beyond the capacity and control of agencies. This analytic study questions the fundamental assumptions that guided the development of the minimum standards and asserts that the adoption of a one-size-fits-all strategy ignominiously ignores contextual differences and complexities in the field. The study cites factors such as the dynamics and specificities of each crisis, differences in the demand and availability of resources and the existence of multiple institutional players as major challenges. Drawing on evidence from the field and the author's experience implementing and coordinating emergency education projects with UNICEF in Sierra Leone, this study highlights some of the challenges that are likely to hinder operationalization of the MSEE as a quasipolicy instrument. It concludes that while the MSEE may be relevant and indeed a desirable goal, it is prescriptive and far too ambitious and unrealistic. Thus the achievement of the 19 minimum standards and 109 indicators may not be practicable and attainable in most contexts given the already fragile nature of institutions and systems in such countries and the resource limitations. Finally, the author proposes actions to operationalize the MSEE at the field level, including increased advocacy for recognition of emergency education as a legitimate humanitarian activity for increased donor funding. The study also recommends the establishment of country-level and project level mechanisms and support for capacity building of government institutions to lead. These actions are critical for an improvement in education delivery in general and more specifically if the MSEE should serve its purpose of contributing to an improvement in learning outcomes at the classroom level.