Learning from an Accelerated Education Program in an Active Conflict Zone
Case Study of USAID/Mali Education Recovery Support Activity (ERSA)
This review of Education Recovery Support Activity's (ERSA) alignment with the AE Guidance Principles provides a window into one AE program's experience of the challenges and successes of implementing AE for out-of-school children in an environment affected by ongoing conflict and violence. ERSA is a five-year initiative (July 2015 to June 2020) designed by USAID to be a short-term, transitional response to the conflict in Northern Mali to address the needs of children and youth whose education had been disrupted by hostilities. A primary aim of the project is to reintegrate more than 10,000 out-of-school children into the formal education system through a two-year Accelerated Education Program (AEP) in AEP Centers attached to formal schools. Accelerated educational opportunities are designed and implemented in a conflict-sensitive way that promotes resilience, peace building, and inclusiveness. In 2017, the interagency Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) launched the ten Principles for Accelerated Education Programs (AE Principles). The USAID Mali ERSA, implemented by EDC in the Gao and Menaka Regions of Mali, was to be originally a case study for the development of these principles, but security conditions prevented researchers from conducting the study. This case study is intended to close the loop by examining ERSA's experiences in light of the new AE Guidance Principles. With only a few exceptions, ERSA is meeting the action points for each principle. However, this analysis has led to the identification of important design and implementation considerations that are not fully addressed by the principles. These considerations may provide ways to strengthen or adapt the AE Principles for maximum usefulness in conflict contexts.