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Nongovernmental Actors Should Not Be the Certifying Agents

There are certain inherent limitations in the extent to which (international) NGOs can participate in certification schemes. For example, although entities, such as the Karen Education Department in Thailand (Sawade 2009; Van der Stouwe and Oh 2009) and the interim Ministry of Education of the Syrian National Coalition, provide valuable services and may be viewed as legitimate by their nation’s constituents, they are not internationally recognized legal entities and can only play a certain facilitating role in promoting certification.

Similar challenges can be seen in the attempts by the IRC in Guinea to support certification for Liberian and Sierra Leonen children, during which time the accreditation of student diplomas and certification of exams, an issue that “would normally fall under the auspices of an MoE” became “an issue that IRC, as an international NGO, had to address” (International Rescue Committee 2009, 174). Such weight of responsibility, and complications inherent in it, resulted in challenges with state acceptance until the IRC engaged a “supranational” entity, the West African Examination Council. A similar argument is made with respect to the importance of the UNHCR as a key advocacy partner to CARE in the Dadaab context in Kenya in the late 2000s (Gerstner 2009).

Humanitarian Principals Must Be Respected

There are ethical considerations for such efforts as those discussed here. One consideration is that of the “pull” factor of humanitarian programming that then influences the dynamics of crisis. Sommers (2002) explored this topic in his study on the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, where many people were incentivized to relocate to the camp due in large part to the reputation it had for good educational service provision. This profile was further enhanced when a teacher-training college was established on its grounds, seemingly countering efforts by one donor to repatriate people back to southern Sudan (Sommers 2002). As is the case presently in northern Syria, education and certification of it should take place as close to communities as possible to prevent further displacement.

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