Madeeha Ansari


Madeeha Ansari is a Fulbright scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her graduate studies are focused on human security, particularly on education in emergencies. Before Fletcher, Madeeha worked as an editor at a public policy think tank, and a Communication Specialist for a network of non-formal schools in the urban slums of Islamabad, Pakistan. She has also had experience working in the Curriculum Design and Communications Unit for a capacity building consultancy. Madeeha earned her undergraduate degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has had a keen interest in the role of media in development, and has written for a range of publications and international forums.

On the Move in Pakistan – the Crisis of Internal Displacement

By Madeeha Ansari

Over the past few years, there has been a change in the nature of conflict. Intrastate conflicts, often with blurred beginning and end-points, now account for a large proportion of political violence in the world today. This form of violence takes a large toll on the civilian population, often causing repeated waves of internal displacement.

Pakistan is an illustration of how conceptions of poverty and development must necessarily evolve in response to new challenges. Since 2004, disaster, conflict and economic need have combined to cause massive movement of people from their homes to sprawling temporary settlements, either in designated camps or on the margins of urban society. Current patterns of displacement are driven by counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against non-state armed groups such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the north-west regions of the country. As of June 2013, there were 1.1 million registered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone, and unknown numbers of unregistered IDPs living elsewhere.[1] It is estimated that just over half of those displaced are children.[2]

Internally displaced children face the same risks as refugee children; in some cases, they experience even higher levels of uncertainty, as they continue to live in and around conflict zones. However, there are no binding provisions regarding internally displaced children in international law, and few organizations have clear institutional mandates owning responsibility of care. The lack of a legal and institutional framework protecting the rights of these children means that they often fall through the cracks of services provided by state and humanitarian agencies.

In spite of the magnitude of the population movements due to intrastate violence in Pakistan, the Government does not consistently acknowledge its responsibility for protecting or assisting IDPs and has not adopted a national IDP policy or law. In fact, national authorities often refrain from use of the term “IDP”, instead describing individuals as “temporarily dislocated” or “affected. An entire generation, therefore, is in a state of flux.

While there is no specific validation of the crises of internal displacement, there are some rights that can be invoked by every individual. On the global scale, education has been recognized as both a basic right and an “enabling right,”[3] that should be incorporated in any humanitarian response. As a state, Pakistan has committed to providing free, compulsory education to every child under sixteen.[4] In practice, however, there are serious challenges impeding the provision of schooling to displaced populations. Presently, the authorities are placing emphasis on return and continuing to discourage permanent settlement of IDPs anywhere other than their places of origin. At the same time, efforts to facilitate return have been offset by forced movement due to ongoing violence. The situation of uncertainty means that internally displaced children rarely have formal access to public schooling. While those in camps can benefit from services provided by non-government organizations, those who are dispersed among urban populations are at a particular disadvantage.

The longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to return.[5] Thus, neglect at this point not only has immediate implications for children experiencing the trauma of displacement and disruption, but will also impact their future trajectories. In a fragile country wracked by terrorism, these children are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by exploitative groups. The choices they are given will in turn have implications for the future of their families, communities and society.

The idea of school space is a sacred one, where childhood can be protected and preserved. In a less than ideal world, both policy and practice need to evolve in response to dynamic needs. The international community, the Pakistani state, and the plethora of local organizations committed to Education for All have a serious task at hand, when it comes to constructing possibilities to follow the wandering child, lost within state borders.

Madeeha Ansari is a Fulbright scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

[1] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). 2013. “Northwest Pakistan: Massive New Displacement and Falling Returns Require Rights-Based Response.”$file/pakistan-overview-12jun2013.pdf.

[2] IDMC, 2013.

[3] INEE. (2010). Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery. New York.

[4] Article 25A, Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

[5] Global Education Cluster. (2010). Education Can’t Wait. Retrieved from


Diana Rodríguez Gómez

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Diana earned her B.A. in History in her hometown, Bogotá, Colombia, where she worked for four years as a primary and high school social studies teacher, before completing a M.A. in International Education and Development from University of Sussex. She worked at the Early Childhood Department at the National Ministry of Education in Colombia where in 2010, she secured a Fulbright Colciencias grant in order to pursue her doctoral studies at Teacher’s College, Columbia University.  At present she is an Ed.D. Student in International Educational Development at Teachers College, with a concentration in Peace and Human Rights Education. Currently, with the support of the ILAS pre-dissertation grant, she is conducting research on access and inclusion to secondary education for migrant and non migrant youth in Ecuador.

The Challenges of Access to Education for Refugee Population on the Colombia-Ecuador border

By Diana Rodríguez Gómez

Access to education for refugees in border areas poses a challenge. Frameworks for action usually address procedures related to admission to school, such as access to safe infrastructure, registration, grade transfers and certifications, and placement exams. Policy makers and education stakeholders minimize how social context and local practices and understandings shape and re-define the paths to access education refugee youth follow.

In the late 1990s the intensification of the Colombian armed conflict, particularly in the border regions of Nariño and Putumayo, triggered a large influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Ecuador. In the second half of the 2000s, violent battles over territorial control among the Colombian state forces, left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary forces caused the migration of approximately 250,000 Colombians into Ecuador. According to UNHCR, in 2012, 59,090 Colombian refugees lived in Ecuador; and of these, roughly 40% were under 18 years of age. The majority of this population has settled in the northern provinces of Esmeraldas, Imbabura, Pichincha, Carchi, and Sucumbíos, and in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil.

Due to a partial absence of regulations guaranteeing access to education to the refugee population, in 2006 the Ministry of Education crafted Accord 455. The accord declared that refugee children, youth, or applicants for refugee status who could not provide documentation proving their level of education could access the Ecuadorian education system at the level corresponding to their knowledge, skills and age by simply presenting their temporary certificate as asylum seeker conferred by the UNHCR or the national government. Accord 455 was amended in 2008 through Accord 337; schools are now required to grant temporary enrollment to children until they are able to provide proper documentation, even if they don’t have a temporary certificate. This stipulation requires that children be placed in the grade based on their foreign school documents or performance in a placement test. In addition, Accord 337 states that access will not be denied to indigenous children and youth in the border zones even if they do not possess identification documents or their nationality is unknown. Children with special needs, regardless of their migratory status, shall enjoy the same rights. Most importantly, it states that all the procedures described in the accord shall be free of charge and that the Ministry of Education will implement a procedure that promotes, diffuses, and monitors the accord.

Sucumbíos, located in 160 miles of the Colombian and Ecuadorian border, is rich in natural resources, mostly oil. Whilst the province contributes more than 50% to the Ecuadorian national income, the people here live precariously, with poor access to basic facilities like sewage, water and electricity. Information regarding access to education for Colombian refugees in Sucumbíos is scattered. In 2011, AECID and the Jesuit Refugee Services reported the lack of information on the total number of refugee children and youth living in Sucumbíos and attending school. With a small sample of three schools in the region, the report identified a total of 31 Colombian refugee students, almost 10% of the total population of each school. According to the Provincial Education Secretariat, 52% girls and 48% boys between the ages of 5 and 18 are out of the educational system in the province.

Structured and semi-structured interviews, and classroom participant observation in two rural secondary schools in Sucumbíos, in the eastern-most area of Ecuador, proved that access to education, is limited by factors that go beyond the scope of the Accords 455 and 337. The education system in this region fails to absorb the youth for the following reasons: late provision of textbooks and teachers’ guides; poor in-service training and instruction support; hard terms of service for teachers, including low salary; insufficient deployment of teachers; poor access for students living in distant areas; and an irrelevant curriculum.

In year 2012, the new Mathematics, Science, Social Science, and language textbooks from the government arrived to the easternmost town of the province one week after the school year had started. The English textbooks arrived four months later. To get around the problem, teachers decided to bring back to the classroom old textbooks; therefore, in their first five months of the academic year, students studied the same books they had already covered in the previous academic year. When they finally arrived, the new textbooks caused a commotion among teachers. In contrast to the old textbooks, teachers claimed that the new textbooks required a deeper knowledge and understanding of the subject, and research skills teachers didn’t necessarily possess. Even though the Ministry of Education included pedagogical guidelines for teachers in the shipment, the teachers asserted that these were not sufficient. Teachers admitted to having received training on the new curriculum reform and the new subjects (20 hours each subject) in 2011, but they received no training on the use of new textbooks, nor were they provided subsequent monitoring and evaluation of previous trainings.

The Ley orgánica de servicio público (Organic Law of Civil Service) standardizes teachers’ salaries according to their education and experience. However, in contrast to other areas of Ecuador where pennies have economic value, in some areas of Sucumbíos, all prices are set in series of five, which diminishes the value of money in the region. One of the teachers explained how she couldn’t simply buy two pennies worth of cheese, but that she had to buy “five pennies worth, or nothing.” In this context, there aren’t enough incentives to promote the presence of well-trained and motivated teachers in this region.

With regard to the curriculum, students claimed they found some classes “boring,” “monotonous,” and “irrelevant”. These adjectives were also used by youth to justify their disruptive behavior in class. In class, the activities teachers employed most frequently were: read aloud, copy from the book and/or from the board, math problem solve, answer questions, draw, and complete the sentence. Two students who had attended middle school in Colombia complained about the lack of dynamic activities in class and the disconnect between the Colombian and Ecuadorian Social Studies curriculum. They said that teachers didn’t ask them about their previous knowledge or connect the knowledge they brought to the Ecuadorian curriculum. One of the students lamented that the knowledge he possessed was “useless.” Further, in one of the classrooms I visited one teacher mocked the use of words spoken only by Colombian students, such as ‘peinilla’ (comb) and ‘chuspa’ (plastic bag), evidencing the subtle but powerful practices of discrimination migrant population face.

There is a clear absence of legal livelihood opportunities for the youth in the region. Fish farming, stockbreeding, cacao and rice farming are harsh and poorly paid activities in which most students feel reluctant to participate; nevertheless, they miss classes when their parents require their help on their farms during harvest. Instead, they get drawn towards more illegal forms of work as found on the Colombia-Ecuador border. The border region emerges as a low-risk/high-opportunity environment that blends civil war and drug violence. In the Colombian and Ecuadorian Putumayo, apart from coca cropping, gas and drug trafficking form the basis of the illegal economy. Youth participate in coca cropping as raspachines (coca collectors) and in gas and drug trafficking by passing gas and drugs through the border. When children and youth participate in these illegal activities, they usually get a tip. The income from participating in these illegal activities exacerbates the chances of dropping school.

Other factors that exacerbate dropout rates include early marriage, pregnancy and maldad (evil eye), an illness whose symptoms include shaking, rolled-back white eyes, fainting, and an irrational desire to run. As one student explained, “You feel like you’re drunk.” One of the schools in the sample is reportedly cursed – attributed to its location on a disputed territory between Siona and Kishwa indigenous communities — preventing students from staying too long in the campus. It therefore requires a trustworthy shaman who can pray and cleanse the school.

There are, however, also local solutions that promote access to education. Real Combí, with a population of nearly 30 Colombian families, is located in the Ecuadorian border of the Putumayo River, 45 minutes by boat from Puerto El Carmen, the easternmost town in Ecuador. The school, La Frontera, featured one regular classroom, an early childhood classroom, and a soccer field. In front of La Frontera, across the river on the Colombian side of the Putumayo River, there is a middle and high school named Escuela Nueva Granada. The agreement between La Frontera and La Nueva Granada is simple: students attend primary school in Ecuador, and then transfer to Colombia to attend middle and high school. To overcome the complications of transferring grade certificates from one national system to another, teachers make use of the Convenio Andrés Bello (Andrés Bello Covenant.). The Andrés Bello Covenant provides the equivalences between 10 different national education systems, including Colombia and Ecuador. Teachers from both schools plan to meet soon to design a bi-national curriculum to help students enjoy a smooth transition from the Ecuadorian national curriculum to the Colombian national curriculum.

The principles that frame the Accords 455 and 337, demonstrate concern for providing migrant population with admission to the Ecuadorian educational system. But little attention is paid to attendance, progression through an educational system, and the transition from one national educational system to other. The Ecuadorian legal framework conceptualizes access to education as a linear sequence that starts and almost ends when children and youth enter school. The implications of framing access to education magnifying the role of admission versus other components are evident in classrooms where the quality of the education provided limits the potential of learners. Access as a set of conditions for admission, neglects the political, social, economic and cultural conditions of the border between Colombia and Ecuador. To ensure that children and youth will attend school regularly, access can be better conceived as a fluid continuum, where the quality of the education, in addition to the social context of the child, together function to enhance or prevent regular attendance, progression, transition and completion.

Diana Rodríguez Gómez is currently an Ed.D. Student in International Educational Development at Teachers College, with a concentration in Peace and Human Rights Education.

Additional readings:

Doná, G. and Veale, A. (2011). Divergent Discourses, Children and Forced Migration. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37 (8), 1273-1289

Fassin, D. and Rechtman. (2009). The Empire of Trauma. An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood. Princeton University Press: Princeton and Oxford.

Macleod, J. (2008). Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood. Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado.

Malkki, L. (1992). National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees. Cultural Anthropology, 7 (1), 24-44

Nirina Kiplagat


Nirina Kiplagat is currently a Programme Specialist in the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action, a framework of UN agencies, programmes, funds and departments to catalyze integrated initiatives for early preventive action. The Framework Team is a member of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Working Group on Education and Fragility. Within the Framework Team she leads on initiatives related to conflict sensitivity. Ms. Kiplagat previously worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Kenya Peace Building and Conflict Prevention Unit, focusing specifically on projects related to peacebuilding, reconciliation and recovery following the 2007 post-election violence and implementation of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) Agreements. In addition, Ms. Kiplagat served as one of the Gender Focal Points for UNDP-Kenya and output lead on Gender and Governance for the Government of Kenya and United Nations Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Ms. Kiplagat holds a Masters of Science Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and she has worked in a number of internationally and regionally renowned organizations specializing in the field of conflict analysis, prevention and peacebuilding, including The Carter Center, Project Ploughshares, Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa, and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA). Her professional and training background have equipped her with a varied and rich experience in the various levels of intervention, from influencing policy to designing mediation workshops for youth groups from divided societies. Ms. Kiplagat has also published several articles examining conflict dynamics in the Horn, East and Great Lakes regions of Africa.

Building Peace through the Classroom: How Education Can Transform the Nature of Conflicts

By Nirina Kiplagat 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”-Nelson Mandela

Twelve years ago, while I was working in the Conflict Resolution Programme of the Carter Centre, I was part of a team that organized workshops for youth from divided societies. One of the youth groups came from the Cincinnati Museum Center. Due to heightened inter-racial tensions and riots in Cincinnati, interactions among the young people in the program had become strained. During the workshop, we conducted exercises on such topics as prejudice, stereotyping, active listening, reframing and mediation. I was particularly struck by how these simple exercises resonated so deeply among these young people. I saw them have their “Aha!” moments as they began to view one another with a different lens.

We later received a letter of thanks from the Youth Programme Director who said that those who participated in the program had changed the way they interacted with one another. They looked for similarities and identified their prejudices so they can overcome them. In short – they engaged in dialogue resulting in the formation of friendships. The Youth Programme Director approached the Carter Center because he recognized that it is not possible to work around conflict.[1]  Though the Cincinnati Museum Center program focused on developing youth, it could not achieve its aims without considering the context within which the young participants were living at the time and without incorporating conflict resolution skills into the program.

This example illustrates how transforming a context is not only about agreements, political settlements and new institutions, but also involves examining attitudes, relationships, common narratives and how we define ourselves and others. This is not only necessary for leaders or decision makers in a conflict but is applicable to everyone, particularly the young people who will shape future societies. Conflict transformation means “…addressing the structural roots of conflict by changing existing patterns of behavior and creating a culture of nonviolent approaches. It proposes an integrated approach to peacebuilding that aims to bring about long-term changes in personal, relational, structural, and cultural dimensions.”[2] It is thus clear that education, both formal and informal, plays an integral role in conflict transformation. However, it is important to note that it can also play a negative role. Therefore, to ensure that education programs maximize positive impacts, one of the most effective ways is through infusing conflict sensitivity into education planning and programming processes.

Applying a conflict sensitive lens examines not only how we work, but also what we are doing and whether this is making a contribution to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Conflict sensitivity:

  • Applies to all contexts, regardless of the severity or frequency of violence, even in situations where underlying tensions have not recently resulted in violence;
  • Applies across and throughout all working levels from the operational to the management and  strategic policy level;
  • Applies to all types of work including humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and  peacebuilding;
  • Applies to all actors and sectors including work conducted by UN agencies, development partners, local civil society, government and the private sector.[3]

While there appears to be widespread awareness particularly among humanitarian and development practitioners of the “Do No Harm” concept and of conflict sensitivity itself, this does not always translate into an application of conflict sensitivity. Although awareness-raising sessions have been held within organizations, the gap in application has been due to a gap in skills development in the application of a conflict sensitive approach. To address this gap there are some recently developed practical tools, which are available for use by any practitioner. The Inter-Agency Network of Education in Emergencies (INEE)[4] has developed a Conflict Sensitive Education pack comprised of a Guidance Note, Guiding Principles on Integrating Conflict Sensitivity in Education Policy and Programming in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Contexts, and a Reflection Tool for Designing and Implementing Conflict Sensitive Education Programmes in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Contexts,[5] which was launched in April 2013.

Meanwhile, the UN Inter-Agency Framework Team for Preventive Action has led the development of an online training course on conflict sensitivity available for the UN system, partners and other practitioners.[6] The online course offers learners the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding, practical knowledge and hands-on skills for conflict-sensitive approaches in humanitarian, development, educational, peacebuilding and security work, among others. The course has two modules. The first explores the basic concepts of conflict sensitivity, reflects on individual attitudes and behavior and how we are affected by working in conflict-affected contexts. It also looks at the relevance of conflict sensitivity at organizational and strategic levels, as well as internal issues such as values, working principles, internal and external communication, staffing and budget allocation. The second module is more interactive as the learners are given the opportunity to apply conflict-sensitive approaches in a fictitious environment in either politically complex, acute violence or post-conflict phases. The course uses a simple three step model to apply conflict sensitivity:

Step 1:  Understand the context in which it operates;

Step 2:  Understand the interaction between the organization’s interventions and the context;

Step 3:  Act upon these understandings to avoid negative impacts (Do No Harm) and maximize positive impacts (“development ++” and peacebuilding).

The course will be available online in late February 2014. In addition to UN web platforms, it will also be   publically available without charge on the UN Staff College website to allow partners, civil society and other practitioners to access this knowledge product.

The hope is that, with the combination of efforts of training, simple tools, and technical support where possible, conflict sensitivity will be effectively mainstreamed into all programs. Since the ways in which policy and programmatic interventions address the challenges and potentials of young people will influence the social conditions of future generations, integrating conflict sensitivity into education programs in particular is fundamental. Conflict sensitivity not only has the potential to alter societal contradictions and improve relations and interactions, but can also shape attitudes in ways that can reduce the risk of conflict and help build sustainable peace.   

Nirina Kiplagat is currently a Programme Specialist in the UN Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action

[1] There are three options for working in situations of conflict: Around -not working explicitly on conflict issues, In – through humanitarian or other conflict sensitive engagements during the conflict or On – explicit peacebuilding focused interventions.

[2] UNSSC Peace and Security Glossary

[3] Adapted from UN Conflict Sensitivity online course developed by the UN Inter-Agency Framework for Preventive Action

[4] INEE is a network of more than 10,000 individual members living and working in more than 170 countries. INEE members are practitioners working for national and international NGOs and UN agencies, Ministries of Education and other government personnel, donors, students, teachers, and researchers who voluntarily join in the work related to education in emergencies

[5] For further information on the pack and tools refer to:             

[6] The course was developed by the United Nations Inter-agency Framework Team on Preventive Action, and an inter-agency Task Force with the support of a consultant from the Swisspeace foundation and the UNDP Learning Centre. The initiative has been particularly well received by partner agencies and donors, with contributions received from UNICEF, UNWomen and the Swiss Government.

Rachel Cooper

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Rachel Cooper completed her MA in International Educational Development with a concentration in International Policy and Planning at Teachers College. She has recently written her Masters’ thesis on Teacher Absenteeism and Accountability in Rural Southern Gujarat, where she conducted field research this past summer. Rachel is currently a Program Manager at the SUNY Levin Institute, where she manages a scholarship program for undergraduate women focused on international relations and global affairs. Prior to enrolling at Teachers College, Rachel worked in fundraising for non-profits in NYC and studied political science as an undergraduate at George Washington University. Rachel has a keen interest in peace and human rights education, and how this intersects with policy.

Roma and Early Childhood Education in Hungary

By Rachel Cooper

Roma comprise the largest minority in Hungary and their presence in the territories dates back to around the 1300s. Throughout their history in what is present-day Hungary, they have faced great deals of discrimination in aspects of everyday life, including in health, employment, and education. Since 1993, the Hungarian government has made early childhood education a priority development area in its national education system. Since joining the European Union, Hungary has implemented several policies to increase the access of Roma to early childhood education, recognizing their historical marginalization within the education system. Inclusion in early childhood education is important for Roma children as they often face barriers in higher levels of education due to their typically low socio-economic status. Attempting to bridge these gaps as early as possible can have important positive implications for the educational attainment of Roma children in Hungary.

Pre-school was made compulsory in Hungary in 2011 and has been free since 1993 for children aged 3-6. The government provides support for poor families to encourage them to enroll their children. Before the start of the school year, economically disadvantaged families “are given double the monthly social allowance they are entitled to, so that they can afford to cover the educational materials for their children for the new school year”.  Schools are also entitled to government funding for disadvantaged children, to cover educational materials and meals. 88% of children in Hungary are enrolled in a pre-school; for the Roma population, this percentage drops to 76. It should be noted that Hungary’s overall enrollment in early childhood education and Roma enrollment rates in early childhood education are far higher than its neighbors – Bulgaria’s rate is 45%, followed by Romania at 37%, the Czech Republic at 28%, and Slovakia at 24%; however this should not excuse the issue of access to educational services that are still apparent for Hungarian Roma.

Hungary’s higher rate of Roma enrollment does not signify that levels of equity are high, especially since 21% of Roma children attend pre-schools that are nearly completely Roma, and most non-Roma children attend schools that have zero Roma enrolled. Additionally many Roma are unable to attend pre-school due to a dearth of facilities. This is especially true in rural areas, where most Roma households live – in the 1993 Hungarian census the rural Roma population was measured at 60.5% of the total Hungarian Roma population. According to the Roma Early Childhood Inclusion Report of 2012, 29% of local governments have no kindergartens available, and these are predominantly in areas with Roma majorities. Although there are government provisions to provide subsidies to Roma families to encourage attendance, there have been reports of Roma not receiving this support due to local clerks discouraging Roma from applying because of local financial constraints. Furthermore, Roma families may not even know about the financial provisions to which they are entitled due to a lack of information channels.

On a broader level, Hungary has also been criticized for the measures it uses for the development of its early childhood education programs. Hungary’s National Roma Integration Strategy suggests the “development of early talent fostering, early childhood education and care” should be measured by PISA results, ignoring that PISA measures educational achievement indicators of 15-year-olds, and is irrelevant to measures that should be applied to children of pre-school age.

Interestingly, Roma girls are more likely to be enrolled in ECE than boys, with an 8% difference. This pattern is inconsistent with Hungary’s neighbors – the only other country to have a higher enrollment of Roma girls in pre-school is Romania, with 39% of girls and 36% of boys enrolled.

Hungary has been seen as a leader with regard to its Roma policies, and was one of the first countries in Europe to implement a system of protecting minority rights. In terms of ECE, Hungary has more experience and a longer history of integrating Roma children. The Roma Education Fund, a seminal organization focused on improving the status of Roma in Europe, has criticized Hungary not for its lack of inclusion efforts, but instead for measures that are too “overwhelming” for enactment at a local level. Essentially, initiatives have overloaded the system and have not provided enough space for proper evaluation and assessment of their effectiveness. Two of Hungary’s programs which have been deemed successful are: National Education Integration Network (Hungarian acronym of OOIH) and Step by Step schools.

Reports have been mixed regarding the quality of early childhood education in Hungary. The OECD finds that it has a “well-developed child-centered methodology” with content “focused on the acquisition of social and learning skills and fostering an interest in the learning process, rather than on direct teaching of literacy and numeracy”. The Roma Education Fund, Open Society Initiative, and others, have countered this positive overview, finding “the education system in general as being dominant and rigid”.

It is clear that Hungary still has a ways to go in terms of full integration of Roma in early childhood education, though it has made important strides. Government measures and policies exist to improve the situation; it is crucial that local governments and school districts are held accountable to all of their constituents and to recognize the equal rights of Roma to education mandated by law.

Rachel Cooper is currently a Program Manager at the SUNY Levin Institute.

Justin Barbaro


Justin Barbaro is a 3rd year PhD student in Education Leadership and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Teachers College. His research foci include international school leadership and management, role transition theory, and school choice. He is a current student in Professor Lesley Bartlett’s course on Globalization, Mobility, and Education (ITSF 5045) where he is working with a research team investigating the relationship between the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and graduate’s perceptions of global citizenship and mobility.

Prior to Teachers College, Justin was a 3rd grade teacher at I.G. Conchos Elementary School as a Teach for America corps member in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also the recipient of a Fulbright grant awarded to study the Korean education system while teaching English as a second language at Bullo Elementary School in Gwangju, South Korea. Justin holds and M.Ed in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and B.A.s in History and Archaeology from the University of Virginia.

Has the International Baccalaureate Curriculum affected migrant educational attainment in the Netherlands? A literature-based response

By Justin Barbaro

In their comparative education report, Crul & Holdaway (2009) offer an extensive list of factors shaping educational attainment of two historically low-attaining migrant groups, Dominicans in New York City and Moroccans in the Netherlands. The authors identify factors including gender, parents’ educational attainment, financial resources, strong familial relations, school quality, and neighborhood as impacting migrant educational attainment in both locations. Discrimination represents another significant factor of impact recognized by the research team as, “shaping (migrant youths) educational careers and their future prospects” (p. 1485). According to the report, Moroccan students in the Netherlands are more likely than Dominican students in New York to be discriminated against because of their religion. Over the past decade, those of Dutch descent have demonstrated decreasing levels of tolerance towards its Muslim migrant population despite the fact the many second-generation youths do not actively practice Islam (p. 1485). According to one study (Boog, Donselaar, Houtzager, Rodrigues & Schiermer, 2006) 70% percent of young Moroccan migrants, in particular school-aged boys, reported “serious” incidents of discrimination or racism in 2005 (p. 1486).

The impact of discrimination and racism on Moroccan children’s’ educational attainment may prove as hard to measure as it is to assuage. One potential opportunity for Dutch schools to combat the wave of increased intolerance within the schoolhouse gates may include the implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curricula within its public schools. The IB is a non-profit educational foundation providing k-12 curricula aimed at helping students around the globe develop the, “intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world” (IBO, 2013). Over the past twenty years a number of Dutch public schools have utilized various IB programs, first for gifted students and, increasingly within schools educating student populations representing more heterogeneous skill levels (Visser, 2010). One 2010 report estimates that over 100 Dutch public schools currently use at least one IB curricular program (Visser, 2010).

Theoretically, two of the five areas of interaction focus embedded within the IB curricula might serve as a mediator between in-school discrimination of Moroccan students in Dutch national schools and their curricular attainment. (IBO, 2013a) These five areas of interaction consist of approaches to learning, community and service, human ingenuity, environments, and health and social education. Curricula focusing on community and service as well as human ingenuity represent the two areas with legitimate potential to increase levels of tolerance within Dutch schools. According to the IB, community and service, “requires students to take an active part in the communities in which they live, thereby encouraging responsible citizenship” (IBO, 2013b). Curricula that allow for and encourage youth participation and service within their local communities provide potential opportunities for Dutch youth to move beyond the boundaries of the classroom in order to learn with and from migrants in their community. Additionally, the focus on human ingenuity allows, “students to explore the multiple ways the processes and products of human creativity, thus learning to appreciate and develop in themselves the human capacity to influence, transform, enjoy, and improve the quality of life” (IBO, 2013b). A deeper understanding of the processes of immigration and the ingenuity of immigrants, often in the face of scarce resources, may promote a greater appreciation of migrant community members among Dutch youth.

However, several limitations to the above propositions should be noted. First, the fidelity with which Dutch schoolteachers implement the IB curriculum might impact how it in turn influences the personal, emotional, and social skills of the students (Visser, 2010) Students may fail to grow these competencies if assigned to classrooms lead by teachers who fail to implement the IB with fidelity due to ideological opposition or limited pedagogical effectiveness. Second, the personal, emotional, and social skills of students may not benefit even if their teachers implement the IB curriculum with fidelity. Even exemplary pedagogical execution does not guarantee full or predictable internalization by students. Third, and most notably, even if IB curricula has the ability to increase tolerance at the school level there is very little evidence to support that it would directly impact levels of tolerance (or intolerance) within the greater community. Increased tolerance levels of Dutch youth can only be considered a positive outcome, yet the direct and indirect impact on Dutch adults who may be the primary social-norm-setters in the community might be only limited at best.

This blog post represents a preliminary literature-based exploration of how the implementation of IB curricula in Dutch national schools may increase levels of tolerance for Moroccan migrants at the school level. One potential next step might be a quasi-experimental longitudinal research design comparing the levels of migrant tolerance in Dutch national schools implementing IB curricula with those using another popular form of curriculum. 

Justin Barbaro is a 3rd year PhD student in Education Leadership and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Teachers College.


Boog, I., Donselaar, J., Houtzager, D., Rodrigues, P., & Schriemer, R. (2006). Monitor

Rassendiscriminatie 2005 [Monitor race discrimination 2005]. Leiden, Netherlands: Universiteit van Leiden.

Crul, M., & Holdaway, J. (2009). Children of immigrants in schools in New York and Amsterdam: The factors shaping attainment. Teachers College Record, 111(6), pp. 1476-1507.

International Baccalaureate Organization (2013a). About the International Baccalaureate. Retrieved from <>

International Baccalaureate Organization (2013b). Middle Years Programme at a glance. Retrieved from <>

Visser, A. (2010). International education in a national context: Introducing the International

Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in Dutch public schools. Journal of Research in International Education, 9(2), 141-152.

Additional Readings

Peterson, A.D.C. (2003). Schools across frontiers: The story of the International Baccalaureate and World Colleges (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Open Court Press.
Dower, N., & Williams, J. (Eds.). (2002). Global citizenship: A critical introduction.New York, NY: Routledge.
Sassen, S. (2002). Towards post-national and denationalized citizenship. In E. Isin and B. Turner (Eds.), Handbook of Citizenship Studies (pp. 278-291). London: Sage.