23 July 2013
Adolescents and youth in conflict-affected environments may never have traveled to school without fear, never known a functioning civil society or political or family stability. These youth are frequently displaced, either within their country or as refugees. They may find themselves stranded before they have built the skills to enter adulthood. In conflict-affected environments, they face major challenges to exercising their right to education.
Before they can satisfy their right to education, adolescents and youth in conflict-affected environments must overcome safety and security threats. Relative to the general population, they are disproportionately killed, injured, or coerced into combat, human trafficking, sexual violence, or forced to flee their homes. Meanwhile they rarely have access to post-primary education to build skills and support communities to abandon the cycle of violence. Their lack of opportunity and exposure to violence can lead to a "negative cycle that entrenches their disadvantage.”
The Adolescents and Youth Task Team (AYTT) of INEE urges policy makers and practitioners to include youth in planning and programming in the post-2015 agenda through:
The post-2015 climate provides an opportunity to learn from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) efforts, and tap the potential of youth in conflict-affected settings. Though the MDGs and EFA emphasized workforce development, both movements placed inadequate emphasis on non-formal and post-primary education. In conflict-affected environments, the formal education system is often interrupted and youth may fall through the cracks while governments attempt to reinstate a functioning formal education system. Non-formal life skills programming can fill this gap. Programming for youth in conflict-affected environments should focus on secondary, post-secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), Livelihoods Training and alternative educational programming. Policy makers and the international community should ensure that alternative educational opportunities are available to engage communities and youth to develop skills to support themselves and their families.
Youth are not passive recipients of international aid, but active participants in developing their skills and building communities, organizations, businesses and markets. Youth in conflict environments must be engaged to provide local knowledge and build an educational movement of invested youth leaders. This process has already begun through the Department for International Development (DFID) Youth Voices on a Post-2015 World and the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) Policy forum, setting the path for practices in consulting and engaging youth in local, national and international policy and programming development in the post-2015 agenda.
Committed international, regional, national and community leadership is necessary to support the fulfillment of providing flexible educational programming for all youth in the post-2015 agenda. Working with youth leaders, decision-makers can identify and support educational opportunities, psychosocial support programming and livelihood development that respond to local needs in conflict affected environments.
While the MDGs and EFA goals increased the quantity of educational access worldwide, the post-2015 development agenda must emphasize quality of educational opportunities. Evaluation of conflict-affected educational programming for youth is dependent on project goals and implementers, but an emphasis on holistic results and evidence-based programming that support youth educational goals and workforce development is vital.
Funding for youth issues emphasizing post-primary educational opportunities should be systematic and delivered via mechanisms that are flexible and responsive, including funding for youth-driven initiatives. There is a need to bridge humanitarian and development funding pools and, particularly, to bridge sectoral silos to fund programs that address youth needs holistically.
No single agency has a youth mandate. A more explicit youth focus is needed in the aid architecture, such as through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster coordination mechanism and/or the UN Peacebuilding Fund, to ensure youth needs are addressed. Broad partnerships can be built at the global and national levels to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration. A focus should be placed on increasing coordination of policies and plans between relevant government ministries at the national level.
While the outlook is often bleak, adolescents and youth with access to quality education have enormous potential as change agents. Engagement of youth in crisis situations builds trust in communities recovering and coping with violence, including "human, social and economic development” and “increased productivity, lower health costs, enhanced social capital and greater individual and community resilience to cope with shocks." The post-2015 agenda can be the foundation for inclusive, youth representation through organizations and networks in conflict-affected environments.
To learn more about programs targeting education for youth in crisis, please visit: www.ineesite.org/aytt.
The INEE Adolescent and Youth Task Team (AYTT) is made up of committed individuals from UN agencies, bilateral donors, international and national NGOs, practitioners, researchers and policymakers who work collaboratively on technical tasks to ensure a coordinated, accelerated, expanded and evidence-based response to the educational rights, needs and aspirations of adolescents and youth affected by crisis.
For more information and to join the AYTT, please visit: www.ineesite.org/aytt.