Rapid Education and Risk Analysis: What Is It?
In an ideal world, all school-aged youth would have access to education without interruption. Unfortunately, reality dictates otherwise. More than half a billion children—nearly one in four—live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, often without access to services, including education. In 32 conflict-affected countries alone, 21.5 million children, 15 million adolescents, and 26 million youth are out of school. Millions more have had their education disrupted by disasters, crime, and violence.
A Collection of Education Resources in Response to Coronavirus
Achieving results in these challenging environments calls for innovative approaches to the design, management, and evaluation of education programs. To this end, USAID uses a Rapid Education and Risk Analysis (RERA) to examine the education sector, learners, and their communities as a dynamic system of multiple contextual risks and assets. It investigates how particular risks like violence, insecurity, natural hazards, and health pandemics affect education, how education influences these risks, and how these risks influence each other.
Why Think In Terms of Risk?
Everywhere USAID works, there are contextual risks. This is particularly true in crisis or conflict-affected settings. Education programming can either exacerbate or mitigate these risks, depending on how it is designed and delivered. In order to be effective, sustainable, and conflict-sensitive, education programs must holistically analyze and account for all risks and assets.
Thinking in terms of risk is particularly relevant for complex and volatile situations, which typically feature multiple contextual risks. For example, consider Somalia; it faces conflict, floods, droughts, and food insecurity, and it’s not alone in its emergent struggles. Other countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Haiti, El Salvador, and many more, likewise face violence and natural disasters. This is why analyzing only one contextual risk is insufficient; other risks are always present and they influence each other.
Any school community in these contexts faces multiple risks and needs to manage them simultaneously. They may suffer violence or armed conflict; witness floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters; or grapple with an out-of-school youth population that engages in risky—if not violent—behavior. By employing risk concepts, USAID and implementing partners can facilitate collaboration with national institutions and organizations.
So, What Exactly Is a Rapid Education and Risk Analysis (RERA)?
A RERA is a “good enough” situation analysis of the education sector, learners, and their communities as a dynamic system of relationships involving both multiple assets and risks. A RERA is unique in that it integrates key methodological elements of a rapid education needs assessment and contextual risk analyses, such as conflict analysis, disaster risk assessment, and resilience analysis.
Specifically, a RERA investigates how risks affect the school community, how education influences risks, and how contextual risks influence each other. Similarly, a RERA illuminates cross-sectoral dependencies and opportunities to support school community resilience.
The overarching questions that a RERA seeks to answer are:
- How does the education sector relate to the country’s broader political, economic, social, security, and environmental situation?
- What are the causes, characteristics, consequences, and interactions of the main contextual risks in the country?
- What is the two-way interaction between contextual risks and the education sector, particularly at the school and community levels?
- What are the resilience factors that positively influence access to, as well as safety and quality of, education? How can these factors be strengthened?
- What are key risks and opportunities for designing or adapting USAID strategies and programming?
The Other W’s: Where, When, and Who?
The RERA Toolkit was designed for conflict- and crisis-affected contexts as defined by USAID, which feature high levels of contextual risks. However, risks are present in every country in which USAID operates. Even in development settings where risks are low, USAID and partners should design education programs for maximum preventive effect.
Although a RERA can be implemented throughout the program cycle, it is especially beneficial to inform country and sector strategies, as well as project and activity design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation, including rolling analyses. Ultimately, the timing and parameters of a RERA can be adapted and optimized by carefully considering context and scenarios as well as the nature of the USAID activity, particularly those that involve systems strengthening and enhanced national government involvement.
A RERA is conducted by USAID implementing partners in close collaboration with USAID education staff.
Delve into the details, including step-by-step guidance and design and implementation tools, by reading the full RERA Toolkit
If the education sector is to remain functioning in the face of widespread and emergent challenges, it is incumbent on national governments, USAID staff, and implementing partners to properly and comprehensively assess contextual risks. Doing so will help inform education programming and provide an understanding of how learners, their families, and teachers can mitigate and recover from stresses and shocks.