Devpro Resource Centre

Education in emergencies

'When Children’s Worlds are Turned Upside Down...'

Did you know that approximately 60 million of the world’s out-of-school children1 were in 33 conflict-affected countries and territories? More than half of them were girls.

In times of crisis, education is an effective means to help re-establish normalcy, create safe environments and enable children to learn essential life skills. Quality education can also lead to the realization of other rights, including the right to health care, nutrition and protection.  During a crisis, the constraints on girls’ education – most notably the lack of physical security – usually intensify. In such situations, girls face the threat of sexual violence, including rape, sexual exploitation and abuse, prostitution, trafficking and forced pregnancy.

Restoring quality education in countries that have emerged from conflict can be one of the first dividends of peace. It can contribute to reconciliation, promoting social cohesion and providing children and their families with hope.

1 Of the 93 million children not attending primary school in 2006.

As a representative of a non-governmental organization, an activist, a donor, a parliamentarian or a citizen, here are 10 ways YOU can make a difference:

1. Raise Awareness
Bring attention to the issue of education in emergencies around the world. Innovative communication tools like the animated video below and podcasts on education and emergencies may be useful in your efforts. Share, discuss and disseminate them.

'When Children’s Worlds are Turned Upside Down...'
This UNICEF video is a dynamic animation highlighting key advocacy messages on education in emergencies.

2. Protect educational facilities from attack during war
Insist that government or non-state entities involved in conflicts do not target educational facilities and ensure the incorporation of education provisions in peace agreements.

3. Set up safe, temporary, child-friendly learning spaces
These can be created with minimal infrastructure within the first six to eight weeks. Providing basic facilities and appropriate basic education, early learning and recreational materials are essential. These learning settings should foster children’s participation in structured recreational and educational activities and enable access to basic health and nutrition services.

4. Establish community services around schools
Schools are ideal places to provide basic services to communities. It is essential to ensure that the drinking water supply is safe, and that proper sanitation is provided, which promotes and protects the privacy and dignity of all children.

5. Rebuild education systems
An investment in the education sector is an investment in development. Building the education sector back better is not only good for children, it also inspires society to plan and rebuild and work more effectively across sectors (health, transportation, employment etc).

6. Reintegrate teachers and children
Provide teaching and learning materials and organize semi-structured recreational activities. If qualified teachers are unavailable, recruit additional teachers among community members.

7. Enrich emergency school curricula
These safe environments are essential for sharing survival messages and life skills education that promote health and safety, human rights, citizenship and peace.

8. Re-establish or sustain primary education
Curriculum documentation and accompanying materials may be lost or may have large sections that are no longer acceptable or relevant. Work with the local ministry of education to develop new, appropriate curriculum materials.

9. Recognize education provisions outside country of origin
For child refugees and for internally displaced persons, the biggest concern is the interruption of their education. It is important that education provisions, including non-formal education outside their communities, be recognized in order to facilitate and encourage transition to formal school either in their home or host countries.

10. Share and disseminate resource documents
It is important that key resources reach the places that need them most. Use networks like INEE, ReliefWeb, IASC, OCHA etc., and ensure dissemination of these important tools.

May 2009 




Education in the line of fire – The targeting of schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Attacks on schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan have resulted in numerous deaths and are threatening the future of these countries by denying children the right to education.

This dynamic discussion between a human rights lawyer, UNIFEM country director and award-wining documentary maker, is part of UNICEF’s 'Beyond School Books' podcast series on education in emergencies.

READ related story

AUDIO mp3 | ram

Related links

INEE | website
Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies

ReliefWeb | website

IASC | website
Inter-Agency Standing Committee

OCHA | website
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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