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August 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm EST

Resource Guide to Resilience-Based Approach in Education and Joel Reyes’ What Matters Most for Students in Contexts of Adversity: A Framework Paper

Countless studies attest to the absolute importance of conflict-sensitive education. The evidence is clear: resiliency approaches in education simultaneously improve youth well-being and overall institutional resiliency, aiding the recovery of education systems after crises. Environmental support systems, particularly educational institutions, play a crucial role in fostering this resiliency, the benefits of which transcend the boundaries of education and youth; resilience-based approaches in contexts of adversity also enhance the opportunities for overall social transformation.

Designing and implementing these educational resilience approaches is, of course, not as straightforward. Drawing on lessons-learned from case-studies across the globe and theoretical evidence as a framework, the Education Resilience Approaches (ERA) Program has designed a model to “guide the collection of contextualized evidence, in-country dialogue and the design of program that are relevant to students and education institutions striving to recover, perform and even transform in contexts of adversities.” While the model focuses on contexts of pervasive violence, its guiding resilience lens can be translated to a variety of contexts.

The model identifies four integrated and overlapping components critical to the application of the resilience process:

First, to identify risks and available situational assets:

  1. Manage and minimize adversities, understanding that adversities such as social violence deter learning and emotional well-being, and often result in the externalization of aggressive behavior.  

  2. Identify and foster the assets and positive engagement of individuals and groups in education communities by encouraging education on cognitive, emotional and behavior skills that help counteract the negative effects of socioemotional trauma on learning.

Key Resource! For more information on identifying these risks and assets, see the ERA’s RES-360° Rapid Assessment Manual.


Second, to mitigate the identified risks and to support the identified assets:

  1. Foster school-community support, by providing relevant school services with community partnerships. Resilience approaches require the engagement of family and community support and are most successful when implemented by school and community members rather than by outside researchers or evaluators.

  2. Align educational services: Instructional staff, policies, programs and resources must align to address these criteria using resilience-relevant policies, program and human, financial and material resources.

The major commonality amidst these four criteria is that a resilience based approach in education must be adopted as a central component in education and across the broader community. Successful resiliency education programs have all committed to broad social-emotional learning inside and out of the classroom, an integrated group engagement that the ERA has identified as precisely the key to fostering “recovery, competence and social cohesion.”

Key Resource! For specific information on resilience criteria, example strategies for the four above components, and example uses for the ERA approach in monitoring and evaluation see the What Matters’ Annexes.


Of course, this strategic guidance cannot be applied globally. Resiliency approaches require localized, contextualized and culturally-sensitive evidence to inform in-country dialogue, risk and resource assessment, and implementation approaches.

Key Resource! For more information on contextualized culturally-sensitive approaches, see the USAID Checklist for Conflict Sensitivity in Education Programs.


Continue to explore DM&E for Peace resources for more information on resilience approaches and conflict sensitivity in education. To start, see the Education for Safety, Resilience and Social Cohesion Resource Library for toolkits, guides, case studies, evaluations, training materials, and children’s lessons aimed at strengthening resilient educational systems. Be sure to also see (RE-)Assessing Resilience: Back to Design, a resource that also identifies helpful links for putting resilience into action, such as InterAction’s four-part guidance note series on impact evaluation.


Rainah Umlauf is a Design, Monitoring & Evaluation Intern at Search for Common Ground.

  • This topic was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Profile photo of Jack Farrell Jack Farrell.