The Reunion: A conversation with some of INEE’s founding members (Part II)

Published by
Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
Written by
Peter Buckland, Eldrid Midttun, Christopher Talbot
Humanitarian Sectors - Education
Global Agendas - SDG, Education 2030, etc.
Education Sector Planning

What would you want to see INEE take forward in the future?

INEE has achieved so much in 20 years that it seems almost churlish to make suggestions for the future, as the Secretariat and Steering Group have demonstrated great vision and skill in guiding the network. Nevertheless, since we are asked, here are our recommendations looking ahead…

The INEE Minimum Standards were first articulated 16-17 years ago, through a superb consultative process, brilliantly facilitated by the then Coordinator, Allison Anderson, which gave opportunities to 2,250 EiE professionals throughout the world to contribute. The second edition, which appeared in 2010, was also developed through very wide consultation with INEE members. Over the years, the Minimum Standards have been translated into 20 languages and contextualised for 12 country situations. Although they are globally recognised and respected as normative, quite understandably, they do not reflect the great developments in the EiE field over the past decade. A top priority should be revision, updating, translation, dissemination, training, and contextualisation, again using a highly participatory methodology, for which INEE is justly renowned. 

Our experience over the past 20 years has convinced us that programming of education, child protection and psychosocial support in emergencies must be inextricably linked. This is the case whether those doing the programming are local schools, local, national or international NGOs, UN agencies or national, provincial or local governments. The strongest EiE programmes are those that are planned and implemented hand in hand with partners active in child protection and psychosocial support. INEE has worked very hard to help articulate sound programming principles that integrate these three sub-sectors, to disseminate such guidance, and to build institutional partnerships with CP and PSS networks. INEE’s work on social and emotional learning, incorporating many approaches, such as life skills, peace, human rights, and civic education, has been ground-breaking. Advocacy, technical, and policy work on integrating EiE, CPiE and PSS should be deepened and broadened in the future. 

One institutional issue requires attention. INEE’s Secretariat has grown wonderfully and entirely appropriately in response to the identification of new needs and opportunities. While hosting arrangements have also evolved over the years, INEE has remained vulnerable to the vagaries of its hosting agencies, particularly at times of transition of the top leadership of the Secretariat and Steering Group. Because Secretariat staff members are hosted by different agencies in different countries, people doing essentially similar work at similar levels of responsibility are subject to very different contractual and human resource policies. Some of this is inevitable, as INEE must comply with the national legislative frameworks of the countries in which its staff work. However, we have long believed that greater staffing coherence and thus effectiveness and justice could be achieved if INEE were to incorporate itself in one jurisdiction. Other younger and smaller networks and coalitions, working on humanitarian and development themes, have done this with considerable success. We would recommend to the Steering Group to initiate a public, transparent process of consultation and assessment of INEE’s options in this area, examining the benefits and disadvantages to the optimal achievement of the network’s goals of each option.   

Although we are confident that active INEE members will have included teacher training in their programming, we would like to underline the importance of following up with teachers as the key elements in the learning and development environment of children and youth. In emergency and conflict situations, teachers may also be targeted for attack, or be prevented from being in class on a daily basis. New situations, displacement, exile – and even a prolonged pandemic – may demand new orientation or new training sessions for the teachers via other channels than the traditional ones. The INEE-wide experience in collaboration, coordination and innovation will be in a good position to meet the challenges.

One of the great secrets of INEE’s success has been its flexibility as a network to keep looking ahead and planning to respond to a rapidly changing environment – the very skills that make for successful emergency response. While glancing occasionally in the rear-view mirror, as this 20th-anniversary exercise has done, the most important thing is to keep that INEE spirit of collaboration, commitment, empathy, and concern for those directly affected by conflict and crisis at the centre of INEE’s forward strategy, and to trust in the enormous amount of talent, wisdom, and passion that this amazing network has generated and now has access to. We look forward to seeing the next strategic vision as it emerges.


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.