Conclusion and Recommendations
This chapter reviewed the limited experiences of education in emergencies practitioners and researchers over 25 years with respect to the subject of IDC certification in countries across four continents. It filtered that learning, and ideas that came from it, through dialogue with practitioners familiar with the current context of education in northern Syria, as well as experts on the topic writ large. The following section summarizes the recommendations from that process. It is critical to the provenance and life of this chapter that it be noted again how limited work on and research regarding this topic has been to date, especially after the publication of Kirk’s 2009 report on the topic. Further research with practitioners will be critical as the sector faces a future in which the period of displacement is now more than 17 years—the entirety of a child’s education (UNHCR 2004).
UNESCO Should Establish a Certification Body for Northern Syrian Children
There are quite a few pathways that have not always worked or are highly unlikely to work in the northern Syria context. These include the issuance of (international) NGO certificates, the establishment of a singular supranational-issued “passport” or certificate, and certification through the home government’s system. In looking to regional efforts to support equivalency, accreditation, and certification, there are two examples of value in the use of the Tawjihi in Palestine and the establishment of the West Africa Examination Council. Although this chapter does not call for high-stakes exams as the singular source of certification data, it does suggest that a collaborative, regionally based process may be feasible for the northern Syrian challenge.
Could UN agencies take the lead and serve as the conduit for establishing equivalency and the accreditation terms and certification that they would then facilitate for children in northern Syria? This chapter serves in part as a call to duty to the UN system. It is a recommendation to UNESCO, in particular, to take a long view of the Syrian conflict, to revisit its mandate, and to take some bold steps to help protect the right to a certified education for children forcibly displaced in northern Syria. To this end, it is recommended that UNESCO begin to play a more active leadership role, tap into its regional expertise bodies with vested interests in stability, and explore establishing a regional equivalency board to outline the accreditation and certification process.
The body could be hosted by the Regional Centre for Education Planning (RCEP) in the United Arab Emirates, which is mandated to “... build national and regional capacity for modern education.” (Regional Centre for Education Planning). The RCEP could be supported by the Regional Centre for Quality and Excellence in Saudi Arabia, both education-focused Category 2 Centres of UNESCO, established as “an important extension of UNESCO’s programme delivery arm and a means to raise UNESCO’s profile in Member States” (UNESCO 2012, 1). UNESCO could use its association of National Commissions in host and other pertinent third-country states to help facilitate integration of Syrian students from the north who may later migrate to these areas, as many have already. It is further recommended that the body should:  
standards (e.g., the ISCED) and the curricula of regional and key third-party governments, equivalency guidance to encourage harmony of educational content provided in northern Syria. This equivalency would be for all basic education grades leading to the Grade 10 exit exam as a means of further facilitating easier migration between and uptake within various systems
- 3. Use equivalency guidelines as the foundation for establishing accreditation standards for such service providers and creating a “pull” factor for engagement in the scheme by further showing a pathway towards certification, which would be attested by UNESCO.
- 4. Maintain its apolitical identity; it should be hosted by UNESCO but supported by its UN sister agencies (i.e., UNHCR, UNICEF, and UNRWA) with relevant duty to bear on the topic of educating displaced children.
- 5. Engage private-sector companies with experience in the practicalities of certification (e.g., Pearson) that have unique expertise in setting up assessment schemes (Figueroa 2013, para.7).
- 6. Provide recommendations and services without fee so as not to discriminate or further prejudice against diverse types of educational service providers.
- 7. Enable education service providers to engage on a voluntary basis. Confidentiality concerns would need to be explored, as transparency of information provided would be important but could also open up stakeholder entities to risk.
- 8. Establish the parameters for accreditation, certification, equivalency, and validity.