Topic: Education in Emergencies

Thesis timeframe: Now through 2023
Application deadline: 22 May 2019


Inequalities in education persist, particularly in developing countries. Education inequalities appear to be greatest in conflict-affected countries, with particularly low outcomes for the most marginalized groups in society, such as ethnic and religious minorities and girls. Furthermore, forced displacement represents a major barrier to achieving quality education. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4 is aimed at achieving "inclusive and equitable quality education for all." This implies both the elimination of gender and wealth disparities as well as systematic inequalities between ethnic and religious groups, and also the provision of universal access to primary and secondary education of high quality.  The ultimate goal of this agenda is to leave no one behind. This is a tall order that cannot be achieved without more systematic knowledge about how to reach the most vulnerable groups with quality education. However, so far, the scientific evidence base is almost exclusively restricted to the topic of how armed conflict affects the access to education. Why, despite so much investment in improving education access, do education inequalities still exist? And why do we know so little about the quality of education and its relation to conflict and aid, when it is so strongly emphasized among policymakers? Norway's strategy for development cooperation, for example, emphasizes the importance of education reaching the most vulnerable groups, and girls in particular (EFC, 2013). However, there is little evidence that the aid community succeeds in targeting the most marginalized groups, and we have reasons to believe that it does not, as communities receiving aid are often richer than other communities (Briggs, 2016; Kotsadam et al., 2018). How education aid is targeted, and the extent to which aid reaches the poorest and least educated is currently unknown and is hence an empirical question of great relevance. We also lack understanding on the role of quality education in mitigating the negative educational, socio-economic, and psycho-social effects of forced displacement.

An MA thesis on this topic would be very welcome. The analysis could both use quantitative methods combining existing (subnational) data on the location and timing of conflict events, aid project, refugee camps, and education outcomes, or it could take a qualitative approach, e.g. interviewing various stakeholders in a particular context. Such a thesis would be highly relevant for both the projects "EducAid: Improving education for Rohingya refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh" (Jan 2019 - Dec2021), "Education and Displacement: An Impact Evaluation of an Accelerated Education Programme in Uganda" (Jan 2019 – Dec 2023), or "Development Aid, Effectiveness, and Inequalities in Conflict-Affected Societies (DEAFIN)" (Jan 2016 – July 2020).


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