Reconsidering Partnerships in Education in Emergencies

Reconsidering Partnerships in Education in Emergencies


Abstract: International actors increasingly advocate for partnerships in education in emergencies (EiE) to address the dire educational opportunities of school-aged children in sites of disaster, armed conflict, forced migration, and other humanitarian crises. This study explores the nature of partnerships in EiE.We examine the impetus behind an expansion of partnerships among diverse global actors and key characteristics, relationships,and dynamics within these partnerships. Using data collected from key informant interviews and documents from organizations involved in the Syria refugee education response(2018-2021), we detail two emerging characteristics of partnerships in EiE: (1) market-based principles in rhetoric and practice; and (2) a rise in private sector participation. While partnerships aim to improve coordination between agencies, our study uncovers the counterintuitive finding that competition characterizes the EiE partnership space more often than coordination. Furthermore, despite the education and humanitarian community’s promotion of a “localization agenda”—prioritizing full participation of affected local communities as partners in education policy and implementation—our research points to a maintained hierarchy where international actors hold most influence inEiE. We discuss the practical implications of this power asymmetry within the broader context of marketized humanitarianism, and raise concerns regarding equity within unchecked partnerships.

Citation: Menashy, F. & Z. Zakharia (2022). Reconsidering partnerships ineducation in emergencies.Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30(144). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.7008

Crisis upon crisis: Refugee education responses amid COVID-19

Crisis upon crisis: Refugee education responses amid COVID-19


This study applies a critical political economy approach to understand the tensions, contradictions, and inequities that emerged when COVID-19 altered narratives and practices in education in emergencies, at the global policy level and within the local context of Syria refugee education in Lebanon. Through a vertical case study methodology, our research offers insights into a setting in which global organizations and actors sought to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on schooling, but under a significant broader context of multiple crises. Drawn from interviews conducted between October 2020 and February 2021, our data captures notions of “rupture” and “continuity,” underscoring amplifications in terms of systemic educational inequities. We focus on three key global narratives that emerged from the study, which when analyzed alongside insights from Lebanon, appear to be disconnected from how local actors experienced the pandemic. Our findings suggest that global narratives do not adequately account for the complexities of countries experiencing multiple crises, evoking questions around the capacity of international actors to understand and address multi-crisis environments in education. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding and addressing power and equity in refugee education.

Citation: Menashy, F. & Z. Zakharia. (2022). Crisis upon crisis: Refugee education responses amid COVID-19. Peabody Journal of Education. 97(3), 309-325.

Policy Networks in Refugee Education

Policy networks in refugee education


This paper presents a social network analysis of partnerships in refugee education and shows how relationships between organisations change in response to multiple crises, including political and economic crises, disaster, and COVID-19. We draw insights from an original database of 440 state and nonstate entities engaged in Syria refugee education in Lebanon (2018–2021). We find that partnerships in refugee education comprise a complex web of global, national, and local actors. The policy network arising from these partnerships reflects power inequities wherein international organisations hold most influence. Moreover, crises impact the network, which expands to include new private actors. While the COVID-19 pandemic is thought to accelerate localisation, our analysis suggests the durability of global power hierarchies in refugee education response.

Citation: Zakharia, Z., F. Menashy, & R. Shields. (2022). Policy networks in refugee education. International Journal of Educational Research. 114.

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Policy Brief – Arabic


Policy Brief Arabic text

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Research Report

Research Report

This report presents the findings and analysis of a three-year vertical case study (2018-2021) that generated evidence on the nature and impact of partnerships in education in emergencies. The study examined the global educational response to the Syria refugee crisis in Lebanon, bringing together qualitative and quantitative data through a global analysis, network analysis, and Lebanon country study. Together, these analyses provide a comprehensive examination of promising partnership practices in EiE and conclude with guiding principles for a transformation in traditional approaches to partnership in the humanitarian sector.

Citation: Menashy, F., Zakharia, Z., & M. Shuayb. (2021). Promising Partnership Models for Education in Emergencies: A Global-Local Analysis. Final Report. Dubai Cares.

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Methodological Toolkit

Methodological Toolkit


The multi-faceted nature of education in emergencies necessitates research that can adequately capture the complexities of such contexts. This research must therefore be methodologically multi-faceted as well. From 2018 to 2021, we engaged in a large-scale study of partnerships in education in emergencies. We adopted a vertical case study research design that allowed us to uncover multi-scalar processes and overarching themes, along with comparative understandings of different contexts, outcomes, and relationships. Based on the innovative research methods we used, we developed this Methodological Toolkit that we propose as adaptable to researching education in other EiE areas. This toolkit details the research design, data collection and analysis process, offering tips on adapting and applying the methods to answer different research questions in other humanitarian contexts.

Citation: Menashy, F. & Z. Zakharia. (2022). Conducting a Vertical Analysis for Research on Education in Emergencies. Methodological Toolkit. Dubai Cares.

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Policy Brief

Policy Brief


This Policy Brief proposes five intersecting guiding principles for promising partnership practices in EiE. Despite a surge in educational partnerships, the EiE community has yet to develop guiding principles on how organizations might approach partnerships so that they result in effective and ethical practices, leading to improvements for students in crisis settings. This policy brief aims to address this gap through promoting the following five guiding principles:

  1. Care
  2. Trust and Respect
  3. Ongoing and Organic Communication
  4. Mutual Learning and Multi-directional Knowledge Sharing
  5. Self-Reflection and Interrogation of Power Dynamics

The Brief details how each of the guiding principles involves a shift, which suggests the need for a more overarching transformation in traditional ways of operating in the humanitarian sector.

Citation: Menashy, F. & Z. Zakharia. (2022). Guiding Principles for Promising Partnership Practices in Education in Emergencies. Policy Brief. Dubai Cares.

Guiding Principles

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Final Report

Final Report


This Final Report from the study Promising Partnership Models for Education in Emergencies: A Global-Local Analysis presents an overview of the research design, data analysis, and findings. We also consider the implications of these findings for partnership practices in education in emergencies. The project generated evidence on the nature and impact of partnerships in the global educational response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Drawing on the case of Syria refugee education in Lebanon (2018-2021), the study uncovered (1) the interaction, relationships, and proliferation of actors over time; (2) the characteristics of their partnerships; (3) the impact of these partnerships on coordination and community participation mechanisms that promote the engagement of localized actors in educational processes and programming; and (4) the potential impact of partnership practices on student retention, progression, and integration into local communities via education. The study employed a three-year iterative vertical case study design, with an embedded global mapping and network analysis, to produce a robust evidence base from qualitative, quantitative, and longitudinal data.

Citation: Menashy, F. & Z. Zakharia. (2021). Promising Partnership Models for Education in Emergencies: A Global-Local Analysis. Final Report. Dubai Cares.

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