The Importance of Building Resilience into Education Systems
Some 80 percent of the places where USAID has programs are in acute crisis, recovering from a crisis, or experiencing smaller-scale upheaval.
These risks, coupled with an inability to effectively mitigate and manage them, can undermine and compromise the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. They can also stall or derail a country’s progress on the journey to self-reliance.
In regions experiencing recurrent crises, building resilience in education systems is especially important so that individuals, schools, communities, and institutions develop the capacities necessary to maintain safe, relevant, equitable education opportunities and learning outcomes for all students.
Why is Resilience Important?
Resilience, as defined by USAID, is “the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth.”
Education systems have certain attributes that make them uniquely placed for building individual, community, and systemic resilience. In times of adversity, education retains high public value and demand, reaches populations at scale, and serves as a critical hub for information sharing.
USAID’s Office of Education recognizes the symbiotic relationship between resilience and education. A strong education system has the potential to improve individual, community, and institutional resilience, and resilient populations are best able to deliver safe, relevant, quality education and learning for all children and youth.
According to USAID’s Transforming Systems in Adversity: Education and Resilience white paper, education can:
- support and strengthen social capital, which acts as an important safety net during crises;
- raise the human capital of individuals, a critical foundation for resilience;
- play a critical role in strengthening community knowledge;
- strengthen the self-efficacy, aspirations, and confidence of individuals,
- and improve women's empowerment and gender equality, a strong predictor of whether a household will escape poverty.
Research indicates that education systems can help bolster resilience. However, sometimes education that isn’t risk-informed, conflict-sensitive, or accessible to all can create adversity in a community.
USAID has a wealth of resilience resources available to people managing education programs:
- USAID Resilience and Education White Paper: The resource page provides the business case for education in the context of broader resilience efforts, summarizes evidence for education and resilience, and provides activity design tools.
- Rapid Education and Risk Analysis Toolkit: This toolkit provides analytical tools and templates needed to identify the most relevant risks or threats, shows how these risks impact education, and contains training materials and existing resources to mitigate, adapt to, or recover from these risks.
- UNICEF Risk-Informed Programming Resources. This is a collection of resources including
- Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience in the Education Sector: This resource provides information and a community of practice about disaster risk reduction and resilience activities of leading humanitarian and developmental organizations working in education globally.
- USAID’s Center for Resilience offers a range of important resources that support training, activity design, and monitoring, including:
- The 2012 Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis: USAID Policy and Program Guidance.
- C4R Resilience Measurement Practical Guidance, a series of six guidance notes that articulate how to measure shocks, stresses, and resilience capacities; designing for monitoring, evaluation, and learning for resilience activities; and how to design and use recurrent monitoring surveys.
- Shock Responsive Program and Adaptive Mechanisms Guidance which helps assure any mechanism (assistance or acquisition) can be maximally adaptive to dynamic contexts.
- Resilience 101 training (English and French) for USAID staff and partners to become oriented to core resilience concepts.
As USAID strives to support countries on their journey toward self-reliance in the face of adversity, conflict, and crisis, building and strengthening the resilience of individuals, households, communities, and systems through education programs is key.