Continuity education in emergency and conflict situations: the case for using open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL)
Emergency and conflict in countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Haiti and Afghanistan have made us more aware of the long-term serial disruption and psychosocial damage faced by people caught up in emergency and conflict areas. Open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL) has sometimes been employed in these regions to maintain a degree of continuity in education. For the most part, however, this role has been ad hoc, short-term and often bearing limited relation to the psychosocial and educational needs of the displaced or traumatised populations it serves. // But could ODFL play a more planned, significant and relevant role in emergency and conflict regions and if so, how? This paper will address this core question. We identify particular aspects of ODFL programmes, which are especially useful in reaching and extending basic and secondary education to hard-to-reach children and those in emergency and conflict contexts. Through a specific case study of the recent conflict in Sri Lanka, we show how ODFL is currently being used for these groups and to what effect. We argue that by building on proven achievements and integrating ODFL more systematically into the existing national planning for conflict and emergency zones, it could play a significant and cost-effective role in these regions and also, more widely, in facilitating links between the non-formal and formal sectors and improving the quality of provision.
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