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The findings > Education in the context of Emergencies
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Education in the Context of Emergencies or Instability
 
 The 1990 World Conference on Education for All (EFA) set challenging targets for the 1990s, including swift progress towards basic education for all. The Declaration and Framework made only limited reference to education in emergency situations, but war and natural disasters have proved a major barrier to the achievement of EFA. Disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes have taken a heavy toll of human life and also of educational opportunity, when they have struck densely populated areas. Wars and civil conflicts have left whole nations or regions in poverty and insecurity, and robbed many children and adolescents of the chance to study.
 
 The review of education in emergency situations, presented in this Theme Paper, shows that displaced and emergency-affected communities make every effort to restore the access of children to schooling. In refugee situations, they are often successful, since host country governments and humanitarian agencies are conscious of their concerns and endeavour to provide the necessary resources. Most refugee camps and settlements have schools, though in some locations they lack textbooks and teachers need additional training and supervision. Internally displaced populations and populations not displaced but suffering from chronic insecurity are less able to access educational resources for their children. In such locations, a generation of children may miss out on basic schooling. In post-conflict situations, the reconstruction of education systems is often delayed. There is wide variability regarding access to secondary and tertiary education, crucial sectors for developing the skilled workforce needed for post-crisis renewal and the transition to national development.
 
 Wider aspects of the Jomtien agenda, such as early childhood development and basic education for adults, have received attention from organisations working for conflict-affected populations, notably NGOs. Pre-school initiatives, literacy classes for youth and adults, notably women, and vocational training have been initiated where humanitarian organisations had access and when funds were available. Likewise there have been initiatives to promote the education and training of children and adults disabled through war, injury by landmines or other causes. There are innovative programmes to promote the education and reintegration of child soldiers and ex-combatants.
 
 The Theme Paper examines some of the new directions in education policy for emergency and post-emergency situations. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child has led to a stronger emphasis on the child's right to education. This has coincided with the realisation that rapid educational response helps meet the psychosocial needs of displaced children and communities, leading to the idea that emergency education and recreational supplies should reach affected communities within weeks or not later than 3 months after a community is displaced. Special policies regarding curriculum may be needed, when populations are displaced across national borders, and the concept of 'education for repatriation' has taken hold, while there is ongoing exploration of ways to ensure the recognition of studies undertaken by refugees while in exile.
 
 In line with the Jomtien and Beijing emphases on the education of girls and women, there have been efforts to sensitise educators and parents on the importance of girls' education. In some cases, incentives have been provided to help girls attend school, with good results. A multi-faceted strategy adapted to local concerns and culture is needed. While some aspects of the strategy are cost-free, such as school timings, other aspects of the strategy require additional funding, -for example to provide sanitary materials and school clothing for older girls, or to support pre-schools that free older girls to attend school rather than looking after their younger siblings.
 
 The wide variation in the quality of emergency education reflects uncertainty among supporting agencies about standards for provision of educational materials, in-service teacher training, non-formal education, etc. Appropriate standards of resourcing should be defined, and then respected by implementing agencies and donors, with clearer reporting of unmet needs.
 
 The use of new technologies can be a major step forward, especially in situations of chronic instability or when education systems are being rebuilt. Innovative radio programmes such as New Home, New Life for Afghanistan represent a step forward in this area. Education for crisis-affected and post-conflict regions should be included in new international initiatives using electronic and satellite communication technologies.
 
 Education programmes for populations affected by natural disasters or war must be adapted to the special needs of these populations. The Machel Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children has led to a greater emphasis on the psychosocial needs of students, on education for mine awareness, and to develop the skills for peace. The devastation caused by AIDS has added a new dimension to the education agenda, since the disease is almost certainly more prevalent in populations where rape may have been used as a tool of war.
 
 Recommendations arising from the study begin with the need to acknowledge the right to education even under conditions of emergency. A systematic effort is needed to publicise the fact that human rights instruments and humanitarian law demand both the protection of children from abuse and under-age recruitment and also the protection of schools in times of war and of the child's right to education. It must be acknowledged again, as in the Jomtien Framework of Action, that resourcing for education in emergency and post-crisis situations 'is an acknowledged international responsibility'.
 
 A key recommendation is that education in emergencies be seen, and planned from Day One, as part of the development process and not solely as a 'relief' effort. Donors should avoid compartmentalisation of funding that can have the effect of creating an uneducated and bitter, revenge-oriented generation, because education in emergency was seen as the last call on inadequate 'humanitarian' budgets (or excluded from them). Moreover, restoration of access to schooling in a post-conflict situation should be seen as a funding priority. There should be inter-agency coordination to ensure continuity from the early emergency to the reconstruction phase. The task of building a Culture of Peace to sustain future development in nations and communities divided by ethnic and other conflicts should begin at the emergency stage and continue into the building of civil society in post-conflict situations. Current initiatives in 'Education for Peace' in the humanitarian context should be brought together on an inter-agency basis, as a contribution to the forthcoming Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.
 
 Norms and standards should be developed for educational response in natural and man-made catastrophes, with more in-depth field studies by scholars working in the field of education or regional studies. This includes review and evaluation of modalities of rapid response, and of standards for education in prolonged refugee or crisis situations and for post-conflict reconstruction. There should be review and sharing of educational materials and manuals developed by organisations working in humanitarian emergencies and identification of other materials suited for use in such situations. Training modules on education in emergency and post-conflict situations should be developed for use with staff of humanitarian organisations and as part of standard courses in educational planning.
 
 12. Inter-agency cooperation and coordination in the field of emergency education should be strengthened, and use should be made of the new possibilities of electronic communication to link field specialists into the inter-agency dialogue.
 
 
 
 
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