We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.


Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1389/Warrick Page
A man carries his daughter across an expanse of flood water in Digri, Sindh Province, Pakistan.

Our message today is not that children need education even in emergencies, it’s that children need education especially in emergencies.
- Queen Rania of Jordan at the 2013 Education Cannot Wait event.

Education is one of UNICEF’s Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action. At UNICEF, we see access to quality education as a right that should be sustained for all children – both girls and boys – under the most difficult of circumstances.

The right to education is most at risk during emergencies. Humanitarian crises – including wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, protracted conflict - are disrupting education, delaying initial access, and contributing to higher drop-out and lower completion rates. To protect gains made towards MDG 2 and ensured continued progress, children, especially girls, must have consistent access to safe, quality education.

  • 36 per cent of the world’s 59.3 million out of school children live in countries scarred by war and violence. The majority of these are girls.
  • Over one third of the world’s refugee children are missing out on primary education.
  • 100 million children and young people are affected by natural disasters every year. Most of them face disruption to their schooling.
  • In 70 countries in the last five years, schools and universities, their students and teachers, have been intentionally targeted for attack, or education facilities have been used for military purposes.

Education is critical during emergencies and times of crisis

School can provide the stability, structure and routine that children need to cope with loss, fear, stress and violence. Being in school can keep children safe and protected from risks, including gender-based violence, recruitment into armed groups, child labour and early marriage.

Education empowers girls and communities

Girls and young women who are educated have greater awareness of their rights and freedom to make decisions that affect their lives, improve their own and their children’s health and chances of survival, and boost their work prospects. Education is essential to peacebuilding and fostering more resilient and cohesive societies. 

Education has an integral role to play in helping to build resilient schools and communities and bridge the humanitarian and development divide. With access to a quality education, a child can better fulfill his or her own potential and fully contribute to the growth, strength and stability of their society. There is emerging evidence  that violence experienced early in life can have a long-lasting detrimental impact on health, life skills, competencies, attitudes and beliefs. Through this research, we are also coming to better understand the types of programmes, especially in early childhood that have the potential to foster more peaceful and resilient communities in the future. Given hope for a peaceful future, children can contribute to reconciliation.

Achieving economic growth, political stability and true reconciliation can take a long time. But getting children back to school is a quick win. It yields tangible benefits, jump-starts development and offers prospects of a stable future.



New enhanced search