Scoping study on education system resilience

15 May 2024
The outside of a building at the Angthlork Reang Sey School.
Credit: GPE/Livia Barton

The COVID-19 pandemic’s global disruption revealed weaknesses in even the best-funded and most advanced education systems. Future disruptions to education, including climate change, armed conflict, displacement, and new threats from technological advancements such as generative artificial intelligence are projected in the coming decades. 

As education systems recover from past or present shocks, it is clear that policymakers and stakeholders will need to look ahead to future challenges and build adaptability into various aspects of the education system. This adaptability will ensure the continuity of learning and the well-being of learners. The term ‘education system resilience’ (ESR) is increasingly used to describe these intentional efforts to build strength into education systems to withstand and adapt to a widening range of disruptions. 

A recent scoping study commissioned by GPE KIX presents how ESR is conceptualized in literature, as well as how it is understood and implemented in policies and plans in ten selected GPE partner countries. The scoping study is based on a literature review, policy document analysis, and key informant interviews with representatives of education planning departments. 

The study found a lack of consensus on the meaning of ESR in theory and in practice. There is consistent recognition that a defining feature of resilient education systems is having effective planning in place to deal with crises. Policies that include disaster risk reduction, crisis-sensitive education planning and consideration of climate change impacts are generally seen as evidence of education system resilience. The study also found that understanding and implementation of ESR are still developing and evolving in practice and that countries selected for the study are grappling with its implementation in different ways. Existing ESR measures are mostly related to crises and emergencies, especially natural disasters and conflict, and efforts at resilience are hindered by pressing challenges of the present. Lastly, the study showed that there is insufficient attention to marginalized groups in the planning process, and that activities related to education system resilience are often donor dependent.  

The study puts forwards recommendations for research to better understand how education system resilience is enacted in practice and what enables or impedes it across different contexts. 

For more information, read the full scoping study