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Regional Certification Body Should Consider Best Practices from the Literature

This body should establish specific parameters to accredit and certify learning through a participatory process led by the body at its

It is important to clarify that the recommendation to engage private-sector entities involved in an educational assessment system that values high-stakes testing is not an endorsement of such testing, but rather recognition of the familiarity of complicated large-scale assessment work.

establishment. Nonetheless, a number of recommendations exist and can be considered based on current best practices and lessons learned from the field. The following suggestions are point-in-time specific, not exhaustive, and will need to be further considered and contextualized because the ongoing, changing nature of the Syrian context will require them to be reviewed to ensure that the steps to be taken are bespoke.

With respect to accreditation, it is recommended that the accreditation process be considered part and parcel of the qualifying factors for a student’s certification. Singh (2005) is one who notes the value of such an approach in recognizing, validating, and certifying nonformal and infor- mal[1] learning. Suggestions include:

  • • Setting standards for the accreditation of the learning programs through which students’ learning can be certified as equivalent to regional curricula and standards.
  • • Monitoring adherence to accreditation guidelines can also constitute a complementary component of the certification of students’ learning— that is, the critical element of the students’ learning environment and its impact on learning itself. For example, sample guidelines could help set standards for:
    • (a) The nature of the learning space such as aligning it with child- friendly space guidelines.
    • (b) The qualifications and practices of the teacher—paying attention to child-centered pedagogy.
    • (c) The content and delivery of the curricula—ensuring alignment with broader standards.
  • • A system of continuous, formative evaluation for each student should be established to enable longitudinal tracking and assessment to occur.
  • • No direct or indirect costs should be associated with providing basic education services, although community contributions to “top up” these services should be encouraged.
  • • Parents/caregivers should be encouraged to sign commitments to support their children’s education in the home.

With respect to certification, guidance provided by the proposed certification board to both educational service providers in northern Syria as well as those entities that might later “absorb” these learners should emphasize exams as only one component of the certification of the student’s learning.

With respect to equivalency, there must be harmonization of program criteria in order for certification to occur. A review of the ISCED standards for Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt showed that, for the most part, there is harmony in the requirements for 10—11 years of compulsory education. A survey respondent noted that current disharmony among certificates being issued ad hoc in northern Syria or being used by children through multiple displacements was creating inefficiencies in the uptake and progression of students, and thus decreasing demand for future study.

Finally, with respect to validity, the validation system needs to be innovative and flexible, considering the remote nature of programming throughout much of northern Syria. Private-sector partners should be considered as resources in the use of mobile technology in assessing program adherence to accreditation standards.

  • [1] Nonformal learning is defined as structured learning not necessarily aligned with a formal education structure’s syllabi whereas informal learning is defined as unstructured learning that oftenoccurs spontaneously.
 
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