Social Impact, Inc. (SI) worked with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Middle East Bureau to conduct a variety of multi-country research and technical support activities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Middle East Education Research, Training, and Support (MEERS) activity was a five-year, $6.3 million initiative designed to:
1) Investigate ways to mitigate the effects of the various ongoing crises in the region and their impact on the education sector, in addition to supporting ongoing programmatic technical needs to improve the quality and relevance of education in the region;
2) Gather relevant and updated information and develop durable solutions that increase both equitable access to and quality of safe education opportunities for all children and youth affected by the crisis or in vulnerable circumstances; and
3) Support strategic thinking for professional development and programming, and develop and train USAID staff and partners on demanded technical support needs.
MEERS completed a total of 28 activities within four primary priority areas:
- Task 1: Continuous data collection and research on the effects of the Iraq, Syria, and Yemen crises on education for children and youth affected by these events
- Task 2: Research and assessments on demanded educational topics
- Task 3: Analytical reports and trends analysis to support strategic thinking
- Task 4: Capacity building, training, and technical support to USAID and partners
MEERS conducted studies, analyses, and provided capacity building support that can be categorized into seven focus areas. These reflect the interests of MENA region USAID Missions that requested on-demand studies as well as the USAID Middle East Bureau’s research requests. The wide range of topics reflect the complexity of providing quality education to all learners. The seven focal areas within which MEERS research can be categorized are the following:
Area I. Understanding youth programming to reduce barriers, support learning, and ease transitions
Seven study teams – the highest volume of studies in any of the topical areas – investigated youth lives, transitions, and the spaces and interventions where youth were gaining knowledge and building skills.
Area II. Safe and inclusive learning environments for all youth
Two study teams examined safe spaces for youth development and inclusive and accessible education.
Area III. Improving data and programming in conflict contexts
Two teams attempted to understand what data exists in crisis affected regions and states, its formats, reliability, and uses by multiple stakeholders.
Area IV. Engagement with the private sector
Two study teams investigated the private education sector and nonstate schooling, one throughout the region and the other as a case study in Jordan with a focus on low-cost private schools.
Area V. Pre-primary education and foundational learning and learning at scale
MEERS teams produced six studies and a conference report that were relevant to the area of learning earlier (pre-primary education), pre- and in-service teacher and educational staff training, and building foundational (literacy and numeracy) skills.
Area VI. Building Ministry of Education capacity
Two study teams were assembled to lead projects that aimed to build MOE capacity.
Area VII. USAID mission capacity building
Two studies were most relevant to USAID mission capacity building, one that mediated differences in reported results of a USAID project, and a second that supported a USAID mission to develop a results framework.
Links to all publicly available MEERS activity deliverables are available on the SI MEERS Portfolio Page: https://socialimpact.com/portfolio-items/meers/
Photo credit: IREX, Partnerships with Youth