Education in Conflict & Crisis Network - CIE with EDC (2014-2019)

The USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (USAID ECCN) is a community of practice composed of USAID education staff, implementing partners and others working to increase equitable access to, and improve the quality of, education in crisis and conflict affected environments. USAID ECCN was initiated to promote knowledge generation and sharing among practitioners, policy makers and researchers working within this challenging environment.


To help implement the USAID ECCN, the Center for International Education (CIE) has been awarded a five-year, $1.6 million sub-contract from the Education Development Center (EDC).  CIE will focus on developing the research and evaluation activities within the project.


The ECCN research team is currently conducting multiple strands of research related to the broad project goals. At CIE, Ash Hartwell is directing research related to theories of change (ToC), adaptive management, and evidence utilization. Working with theories of change involves development of a comprehensive review of the literature and usage of adaptive management strategies for education development projects. The ToC strategies are especially relevant in crisis and conflict contexts, which are dynamic and need adaptive, flexible implementation that is locally driven. The ECCN research team at CIE consists of Gwen Heaner, Karla Sarr, Julia Novrita, Jenn Flemming, Kayla Boisvert, and Eunice Kua.  Since 2015, the ECCN team at CIE has contributed to a variety of activities and products.


Theory of Change Framework. In late 2017 into 2018, the team has developed a Theory of Change Framework for Education in Crisis and Conflict which provides a broad foundation for guiding and clarifying project design, implementation and evaluation. A theory of change for such programs involves the analysis of context; an understanding of USAID’s goal of Increased equitable access to education; the specification and development of appropriate approaches; and the articulating outcomes linked to the goal. Led by Ash Hartwell and supported by Jenn Flemming and Kayla Boisvert, the framework is intended to serve as a jumping off point for USAID mission staff, as well as program designers, implementers, and evaluators.


Theory of Change Bibliography. The ECCN team at CIE produced a Theory of Change Annotated Bibliography, an analysis of USAID solicitation documents for current usage of Theory of Change approaches in EiCC settings, and Guidance Notes for employing an adaptive management strategy to education programs in crisis and conflict-affected environments.


Safer Learning Environments. The ECCN team is developing a Safer Learning Environments (SLE) Qualitative Assessment Toolkit which provides guidance to implementing partners about contextual risks to safety. The Toolkit stands out from others in using ECCN’s conceptual framework of safety (distinguishing environmental, external, and internal risks), is written for junior or non-researchers, and is designed to be conducted rapidly—all characteristics that are needed in crisis and conflict environments. The Toolkit was initially developed by Gwen Heaner and the SLE Working Group in 2016 and was piloted, under the leadership of Karla Sarr, in six countries (El Salvador, Somalia, Honduras, Philippines, Lebanon, and Jordan). Gwen Heaner has led in the development of the quantitative supplement to this tool, which will be piloted in the coming months. 


Evidence Gap Maps. Gwen Heaner and Eunice Kua are directing the creation of a user-friendly evidence repository, utilizing the tool of data gap maps to highlight the current state of the field’s use of evidence in project implementation. These gap maps seek to connect project interventions with outcomes using various types of evidence (academic literature, organizational literature, project evaluations, experience of ECCN community) in order to facilitate more effective use of such evidence in project development.


Case Studies of AEP Principles. Kayla Boisvert and Jenn Flemming supported the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) in the completion of a series of studies on the application of Accelerated Education Principles for Effective Practice. These 10 evidence-based principles aim to clarify the essential components of an effective Accelerated Education Program (AEP). The review of the application of the AEP Principles included four case studies, conducted in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and with two programs in Dadaab in North East Kenya, that highlight how contextual differences are managed in assessing adherence to the principles and in ensuring effectiveness of AEP programs generally.


AEWG Effective Practice Principles. Jenn Flemming and Kayla Boisvert consulted for the Accelerated Education Working Group on a number of activities. They revised the Working Group’s “10 Principles for Effective Practice” in order to incorporate findings from the case studies, developed the AE Orientation toolkit for a broad range of education sector actors, the AE Design Workshop for implementers, a mapping of global Ministry of Education Accelerated Education strategies, and a donor strategy pilot. ECCN hosted the official launch of AEWG’s new guidance materials in Washington, D.C.


Simulations for Training Workshops. The project has run two workshops on adaptive management for program implementation—one in Ethiopia and one in Bangkok. The Ethiopia workshop used a simulation of "Nyambia", a fictitious country in Central Africa, as a training vehicle. A similar but different training simulation of "Kampustan", a fictional country in Southeast Asia, was developed for the Bangkok workshop.


ECCN Webcast. In June 2016, the Accelerated Education Working Group, of which ECCN’s Ash Hartwell is a key member, held a webcast that introduced the new Accelerated Education pocket guide, featuring 10 key principles of Accelerated Education. Presenters covered the development, importance, and potential application of the Accelerated Education pocket guide and an overview of the 10 principles to guide development and implementation of Accelerated Education programming. 



Workshop in Northern Nigeria. Ash Hartwell, along with Wendy Wheaton from Creative Associates, designed and ran an ECCN field workshop in Northern Nigeria. Using a simulation this workshop helped educators and officials address questions like: How does conflict impact education? How do we design education programs that truly are conflict-sensitive? How can we collaboratively analyze, interpret and use data and evidence in order to improve educational programming?



For further information on ECCN, please visit the project website or contact Ash Hartwell