The second edition of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI), published in April 2019, is entitled “Data collection and evidence building to support Education in Emergencies” (EiE). NSI 02 focuses on why data and evidence are crucial for understanding and addressing situations of emergency and protracted crises and provides insight into the ethical and material challenges when gathering evidence.
Research in emergency settings is complicated by safety concerns but also sensitive political, social and cultural environments making identification of “what works” a rather daunting task. The ecological validity of findings is usually limited to very specific contexts owing to the idiosyncratic nature of conflict and emergency situations. These, in turn, lead to weaker advocacy and lobbying power, critical to increase the level of support to EiE.
The articles in this special issue, guest edited by Mary Mendenhall, Associate Professor of Practice in the International and Transcultural Studies Department at Teachers College, Columbia University, give details about the lack of data and evidence about good practices and critical needs of children in emergency situations. Many of the SDG indicators cannot be produced for children in conflict-affected areas, either at the global or at the local level. The lack of data and evidence severely undermines the ability of countries to develop sound and articulated education sector plans and their long-term recovery efforts. It also hampers appropriate monitoring and evaluation as well as the search for funding.
NSI 02 contains 33 concise articles and is divided into 5 parts, each focusing on data collection and evidence building in Education in Emergencies. The issue benefitted from the advice and support of the INEE Language Communities:
- Part 1 gives an overview of the states of research in EiE, emphasising opportunities and gaps. It provides a cartography of initiatives both at the global and local levels, perceived as opportunities to improve research in EiE fields. Authors share the view that there are important challenges and limits to be addressed.
- Part 2 draws more specifically on methodologies for understanding “what works”, and therefore provides advice on “what did not work”. It highlights how complementary approaches are key to the design of effective, rigorous, participative and inclusive research frameworks.
- Part 3 provides a panorama of promising practices for data and evidence. Contributions from practitioners directly involved in the field give examples of effective education interventions while also raising concerns about the numerous challenges that they face in situations of forced displacement.
- Part 4 digs into how data building and evidence tend to overlook critical EiE issues, especially when it concerns populations already marginalized before the emergency. Authors make the call for a greater anticipation of this issue, to reduce disparities in data building and evidence that could potentially harm the most vulnerable.
- Finally, part 5 offers a reflection on ethics and quality research in EiE fields. Authors share their experiences conducting research in the EiE field and the challenges that they confronted; they conclude with strong advice for future stakeholders regarding data and evidence building in the EiE field.
Overall, this issue provides contributions that further exemplify the call for more and better data in EiE, with specific programmatic actions to be taken by institutions as well as policy planning and implementation that needs to be undertaken by governments