Background: The Humanitarian Education Accelerator (HEA) program was set up by the Department for International Development, UNICEF, and UNHCR. It aims to generate evidence to inform the scale up of high-potential pilot education projects.The challenges of scaling up education programs are magnified in refugee settings, where only 50% of the children attend primary school (UNHCR, 2016).
Objectives: We present a synthesis of the evidence on how to effectively scale up education programs in refugee settings. The synthesis serves to create a conceptual framework that identifies factors that enable and impede the effective scale-up of education programs.
Methods: We searched for and included quantitative and qualitative studies that focus on 1) scaling up education programs in refugee settings, 2) scaling up education programs outside refugee settings, and 3) scaling up other programs in refugee settings. We included a broad range of evidence because evidence on the scale up of education programs in refugee settings is limited (Burde et al. 2015).
We developed a conceptual framework by building on McClure & Gray (2015), who identified several factors that contribute to effectively scaling up education programs. Our framework distinguishes between the pilot phase, the scaling-up phase, and the scaling-out phase (when programs are adapted to new contexts).
Results:Traditional gender norms, security concerns, and high mobility of refugees are the main barriers in the pilot phase. The success of the scaling-up phase depends on the dependence of the program on foreign donors and staff, and teacher quality. Government bureaucracy is the main barrier when programs are supposed to be implemented at scale.Programs that were adaptable to different contexts were most effective in scaling out to different contexts.
Conclusions: We identified barriers and facilitators toward effectively scaling up education programs in each of the phases in the scaling up process. Primary studies, such as the 5 impact and process evaluations we conduct under the HEA, should examine these barriers before recommending the scale up of education programs in refugee settings.