Education in conflict and crisis network

A team from the College’s Center for International Education joins a USAID-UNESCO effort to provide access to education to millions in conflict zones

In photo:  Gwen Heaner, professional staff working on the project, Ash Hartwell, Principal Investigator, Julia Novrita, project assistant and doctoral student in international education.

Researchers with the College’s Center of International Education (CIE) are beginning work under a five year, $1.6 million sub-contract with the Waltham-based Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) to help increase equitable access to education in places where crisis and conflict have come to dominate the landscape.

The Education in Conflict and Crisis Network (ECCN) project is intended to develop a community of practice that will build evidence and capacity to attain USAID’s goal of increasing equitable access to education in these environments for 15 million learners. USAID is funding this project as part of a targeted effort to address bottlenecks and challenges to educational access in 18 countries affected by conflict initially focusing on Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Sudan, according to a Scope of Work document guiding the project.

CIE will work with EDC and partner Morgan Borscz Consulting (MBC), as well as with regional partners ADEA and SEAMEO-INNOTECH, and will focus on developing the research and evaluation activities within the project.

The team at CIE is led by adjunct professor Ash Hartwell as the monitoring and evaluation specialist, along with Gwen Heaner, research manager, and Julia Novrita, research assistant.  “A key activity of the project is developing a community of practice with those organizations that are on the front lines supporting equitable access to safe schools and education programs for children and youth,” Hartwell said. “CIE’s role is to partner with these organizations to shape research, evidence and evaluations guiding this work.” 

Those involved with the ECCN project will work with policymakers, governments, donors, and implementers to analyze and synthesize existing data and develop new research. Findings will be discussed and disseminated with staff from organizations within the community of practice through in-person and ICT-based training, knowledge-sharing forums, and dissemination of materials.
USAID Missions and other members of the community of practice will work together to build consensus on indicators with related projects serving as a laboratory for testing and tracking specific approaches and performance monitoring tools to help improve program design and operation. The knowledge gathered from this process will inform USAID and implementing partners for future projects. 

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

For more than three decades, the College of Education’s Center for International Education  has earned a far-reaching reputation for its ability to work in such environments and to successfully build enduring educational capacity in areas of conflict and crisis throughout the world.

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