UNICEF believes that education is a right for all children, everywhere, including in the most dangerous circumstances. Making sure that children’s schooling is not interrupted in times of conflict or natural disasters safeguards their right to education. It is also an effective way to provide them with essential health and nutrition services, help them recover a sense of routine and teach them essential life skills.
In transition countries that have emerged from conflict, education can be a powerful tool for social transformation, rallying previously warring parties around the issue of safeguarding the rights and well-being of all children for a better future.
Yet despite its merits, education is most at risk in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters. To make sure that children’s schooling is not interrupted, UNICEF works with partners to provide basic emergency education services including school-in-a-box kits and school tents, etc.
UNICEF also advocates for strategic approaches that not only restore schooling and all its related benefits to affected populations, but also help countries rebuild the institutions and systems destroyed by natural disasters or conflict.
Such approaches also call for strategic interventions to help prevent crises from recurring and reduce the fragility of countries making the transition from crisis to normal development.
The international community, increasingly aware that education is an integral part of relief efforts in the wake of an emergency, has been supportive of UNICEF’s efforts.
In December 2006, the Government of the Netherlands, for example, contributed US $201 million for education in emergencies and post-crisis transition programmes run by UNICEF over four years, giving the children’s organization the single largest donation ever in its 60-year history.
It is expected that some 42 countries in emergency or post-crisis situations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, CEE/CIS and Latin America will benefit from this additional funding.
Other donors have since followed suit. In 2009, for example, the European Commission contributed approximately €4 million to the Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition programme.