Home | 2011 Workshop


Education, Fragility and Conflict: Challenges and Opportunities
August 18, 2009 – 1:30 p.m.

Presenters:Yolande Miller-Grandvaux, USAID Office of Education
Sharon Mangin-Nwankwo, USAID Africa Bureau
Thomas LeBlanc, USAID Uganda
Grace Lang, USAID Afghanistan
Rebecca Winthrop, The Brookings Institution


This session shared insights on education and fragility in developing countries with the additional complication of conflict and instability. Main topics included research on the affects of education in conflict areas, the value of a functional education system for a developing country, and program overviews. Panelists discussed experiences in Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan and Afghanistan with varying root causes. Research shows that education can mitigate fragility but programming must attend to root causes of that violence. Reintegrating a large segment of the population into the education system requires sequenced interventions, including private-sector-linked workforce development efforts. Education services should be used to mitigate the root causes of fragility, such as corruption, exclusion based on identity, lack of capacity and organized violence.

In Liberia, there is a class of young people who lack faith in institutions, preferring to take their chances with militia groups. For education programming, primary education is not enough - interventions have to be sequenced, including livelihood training connected to markets, and some way to address the huge urban migration looking for work. Accelerated learning programs have been seen as valuable.

After Uganda’s 20 years of conflict, 40 northern districts held an education summit to build a blueprint for pre-primary to university education. The president and prime minister were in the attendance. The result is an expensive plan, though parts of the country are even poorer than before. However all of the groups now have a seat at the table.

Afghanistan has achieved amazing gains in enrollment but much remains to be done with some five million school-age children who are not in school. A USAID plan from 2004/5 qualified Afghanistan as “post-conflict,” resulting in a different approach than what is needed for the country’s deteriorating situation. Workforce development should to be combined with new agricultural and economic growth strategies.

The program in Sudan was said to get back to some of the reasons USAID works in fragile states: helping create viable government and gain legitimacy, helping citizens appreciate the government and realize the dividends of peace and security and, someday, democracy. USAID is a lead donor and pushed to get teachers into the system, an effort thwarted by the fact that teachers themselves are often uneducated. Coming out of years of war, potentially a new state altogether, the focus now is on building institutions.

Key take away points from this discussion include the understanding that education programs contribute to the stabilization of societies, mitigate fragility and foster a workforce ready population. Additionally, USAID education programs can be adapted to succeed in conflict countries and if implemented properly with the appropriated modifications the programs can lead to the same success one might expect from an education program in a post-conflict or non-conflict developing country.

To view the presentations, please click on link below:
USAID Miller 1 : Open
USAID Miller 2 : Open





For questions related to the 2009 Education Workshop,
please contact Rebekah Levi at rlevi@jbsinternational.com