The Role of Social Protection Programmes in Supporting Education in Conflict-Affected Situations

Organization(s): ODI, UNESCO
Author: Rebecca Holmes
Year: 2010
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This background paper examines the role of social protection programmes in supporting education in conflict-affected contexts. Drawing on existing literature, the paper looks at the impact, design and implementation issues of social protection programme experience in conflict, protracted crisis and post-conflict contexts, including in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Somalia, Nepal, Northern Uganda and Pakistan.

The paper finds that the costs of education are significant in conflict-affected countries – not only are the direct costs of schooling high, but also parents often have to contribute a significant amount to the school to keep it functioning. In a context of high rates of poverty and disrupted livelihoods and potentially high opportunity costs of sending children to school, the direct and indirect costs of sending children to school are often the most substantial barrier to children’s schooling.

Experience suggests that education subsidies and fee waivers offer important potential to offset costs and increase enrolment and attendance, but they have not been widely implemented. Education has remained mainly a secondary objective in social protection programming, for example in cash grant transfers, public works programmes and school feeding programmes. Long-term funding, institutional coordination and support for capacity building are needed to deliver sustainable social protection at scale which supports households to meet both the direct and indirect costs of education in conflict-affected contexts.

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