Framework for Action - Participants -Organizers
Online coverage - NGO Consultation
Latest news - Follow-up to the Dakar Forum
The opinion of EFA partners - Grassroots stories
The EFA 2000 Assessment - The findings
The regional meetings - Evaluation
Press releases - Press kit
Photo corner - Media contacts
The findings > Thematic Studies> Excluded>Part 1
  Country EFA reports
  Regional Frameworks for Action
This study is one of a series of thematic studies prepared as part of the Education For All (EFA) Assessment for the Year 2000, coordinated by the EFA Forum. It has been prepared on a cooperative basis, with inputs from leading UN, donor and non-governmental organisations active in the field of education in emergency situations.
It was presented the 27th April 2000 within the Strategy Session at Dakar’s World Education Forum.
The reason for the study is clear. The year 1990 saw the call from Jomtien towards Education for All, and the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which required states to protect children’s rights, including the right to education. Yet the circumstances of the 1990s prevented many children and adults from enjoying their basic rights. Many countries were torn apart by conflict, and some suffered crippling natural disasters. Millions were displaced across international borders, as refugees. Millions were displaced within their own countries. And millions were at risk in their own homes, due to chronic insecurity and political instability, the destruction of social infrastructure, and the poverty that follows from civil conflict.
Educational institutions have been a target in armed conflict, although this is contrary to humanitarian law. In times of conflict and emergency they have been used for shelter and other purposes rather than education. Teachers have been called to fight for their country or clan, and sometimes targeted for assassination in times of internal conflict. In all too many countries and regions, education systems have been destroyed or have collapsed.
During the 1990s, national governments and humanitarian agencies working to alleviate the effects of man-made and natural disasters, have initiated emergency education programmes, in refugee camps and settlements and in countries affected by war and disaster. There have been major successes but in many cases the response has been inadequate, often due to difficulties of access to affected populations and to lack of funds to provide the help that is needed.
In some locations, special programmes have been developed for the disabled, for child soldiers and ex-combatants. The need to raise awareness of the dangers of landmines, of HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and other health hazards and of environmental degradation has led to innovative programmes. There are exciting new initiatives in the field of education for peace, human rights and civil society. These initiatives have been scattered and exploratory, however, because the field of education in emergency, crisis and transition is relatively new and has not yet received the attention it deserves.
We believe that the EFA 2000 Assessment can be the time at which educators will become more conscious of education in emergency and post-conflict situations as a contribution to national development and to peaceful solution of national and international problems. Education is the right of the child, and not only a privilege, right in the early days of a disaster or after becoming a refugee or being internally displaced. Even at this early stage, however education should be planned to build for the long term, not just for the child but for his or her community and nation. At the stage of reconstruction, expert assistance and international resources may be the key to helping national educators bring about an educational transformation that lays the foundations for peace and prosperity.
The secretariat for this study wish to thank the staff of the many organisations that contributed to its success. Questionnaire data, project profiles and case studies from many countries provided valuable information on the current situation and current needs. Programme overviews and policy papers from concerned UN agencies provided the context within which the state of the field could be assessed. Two meetings of an advisory Technical Working Group provided the framework for the study and a review of the draft paper. It is hoped that this valuable experience of working together on an informal basis will lead to more structured inter-agency cooperation in the future.
The conclusion is that MAN-MADE AND NATURAL DISASTERS HAVE EMERGED AS MAJOR BARRIERS TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF EDUCATION FOR ALL. We recommend measures to re-introduce education as soon as possible in any emergency situation and as a principal intervention to meet the psychosocial needs of children and adolescents affected by trauma and displacement. Such interventions should be designed on the principle that education in emergencies is at the same time education for sustainable development, a crucial factor in bringing peace and stability rather than a continuing cycle of conflict, revenge and instability, -or continuing susceptibility to natural disasters.
The Dakar Declaration stressed strongly on this point.
The support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for this study is gratefully acknowledged. .

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.

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.

At the Jomtien Conference ten years ago, the participants recalled that ‘education is a fundamental right for all people, women and men, of all ages, throughout our world’ and noted that education can help ensure a ‘safer, healthier, more prosperous and environmentally sound world’. For the first time, policy-makers and representatives of the world of education and civil society agreed on a world strategy to promote universal basic education for children, and to reduce massive illiteracy rates among young people and adults especially women.
The tone was optimistic and there was little mention of education in emergencies, -just a reference in Article 3 of the Declaration to removing educational disparities for underserved groups including ‘refugees; those displaced by war; and people under occupation’. The Jomtien Framework for Action again devoted only three sentences to education for emergency-affected populations. Under the heading of ‘Education programmes for refugees’, it emphasised the need for ‘more substantial and reliable long-term financial support for this recognised international responsibility’ to organisations such as UNHCR and UNRWA, and refugee-hosting countries. The third sentence covered the broader scenario of persons affected by conflict or other disasters. ‘The world community will also endeavour to ensure that people under occupation or displaced by war and other calamities continue to have access to basic education programmes that preserve their cultural identity’.
‘War and other calamities’ have unfortunately stalked the world in the 1990s. The Gulf War, genocide in Rwanda, civil strife in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Colombia, parts of the former Soviet Union, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Burundi, Sudan, Angola and many other countries have led to immense human suffering. Natural disasters have wreaked havoc, as with the impact of Hurricane Mitch in Central America and the recent earthquake in Turkey. No review of Education for All can now ignore the destruction of education systems, programmes and infrastructure that accompanies such disasters, nor the traumatic effects of violence and displacement on teachers, children and their families.
The Mid-Decade meeting on Education for All (Amman, 1996) responded to the evolving situation with greater emphasis on education in emergency situations. ‘Delivering basic education in situations of crisis and transition’ was one of the topics for discussion. Recommendations included the classification of schools as ‘safety zones’ to be preserved untouched in times of conflict, better understanding of the role that education plays in conflict management and crisis prevention, and more information on innovative programmes and ways to rebuild education systems to meet the needs of traumatised and displaced groups.
Meanwhile the General Assembly of the United Nations had requested a study into the ways of improving the protection of children affected by armed conflicts (Resolution 48/157, December 1993). The 1996 Report of the Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (the ‘Machel Report’) set out in detail the horrors being visited on children and steps that should be taken to prevent their recurrence and to improve the protection and care of children. Regarding education, the Report recommends all possible measures to maintain education systems during conflict, and urgent introduction of educational activities for displaced and refugee children and adolescents, and in post-conflict situations. ‘Support for the re-establishment and continuity of education must be a priority strategy for donors and NGOs in conflict and post-conflict situations’ (para. 203e). Schooling is seen as a vital tool for promoting psychosocial well-being after trauma, and for conveying messages relating to health, mine awareness, human rights, peace and tolerance.
Likewise, the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995) stressed the need to provide education and training for girls, boys and women affected by displacement (as refugees or internally displaced), or otherwise in need of international protection. Educational materials should be available even in emergency situations, to minimise the disruption of schooling among refugee and displaced children (Platform of Action, para. 147). Education for non-violent conflict resolution and tolerance is recommended for girls, boys and adult members of the community, with a recognition of women’s key role in building a culture of peace (para. 146).(1)
1. The right to education
The right to education featured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Its application to refugees was spelled out in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951). Populations affected by war, displacement and calamities have the right to education, under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1967) and other human rights instruments, notably the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by almost all nations. These instruments make it clear that governments must promote the access to education of all children on their territory, including refugee and internally displaced children, without discrimination.(2) Under international humanitarian law also, education is protected in times of conflict. (3)
Article 28, Convention on the Rights of the Child
Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education... , make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
Make higher education available to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means...
2. Education in emergencies: definitions and context
The subject of education in emergencies has gained in importance due to the numerous ‘complex emergencies’ of recent years, but restoration of access to education is also important in local emergencies such as earthquakes, floods and droughts. UNICEF notes further that ‘Persistent poverty, the increasing number of children living on streets, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are silent, chronic emergencies’. (4)
Different agencies use different language for the phases of an emergency. The World Food Programme (WFP), for example, distinguishes initial Emergency Operations and longer term Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations. UNHCR typically divides a complex emergency into a short emergency phase of 3 to 6 months, a ‘Care and Maintenance’ phase, and a phase of support for a durable solution such as repatriation and reconstruction or local settlement.
For UNESCO, an educational emergency is a crisis situation created by conflicts or natural disasters which have destabilised, disorganised or even destroyed the education system, and which requires an integrated process of crisis and post-crisis response.
In general, emergency education programmes are a response to exceptional crisis conditions requiring exceptional means of response, linked to a process of planning for future educational development.
The context of education in emergencies reflects the horrors of contemporary civil conflicts, in which the proportion of victims who are civilians has risen to over 90%. UNICEF estimates that the last decade has seen some two million child deaths from armed conflict, together with six million children seriously injured, one million orphaned or separated from their families and twelve million left homeless.(5)
The Machel Report speaks of ‘the attack on children’, some of whom are forced into armies and militia, and in too many cases, forced to kill, commit atrocities or serve as sexual slaves ; and comments that ‘more and more of the world is being sucked into a desolate moral vacuum …devoid of the most basic human values’ (para. 3). It cites the UNICEF survey in Rwanda in 1995, which showed that 80% of the children surveyed had lost immediate family members and that more than one third of these had witnessed their murders. Children and adults have been traumatised by the exceptional brutality of recent conflicts, as well as by bereavement and often displacement from their homes and communities.
The global refugee population rose to an all-time high in 1992, at 18 million. UNHCR notes that the world refugee population in 1998, estimated at 11.5 million, is the lowest figure for the past ten years. The total ‘population of concern to UNHCR’ in 1998 is 22 million, including two million recently repatriated refugees, five million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in situations where UNHCR has special responsibilities, and recently returned IDPs. (6)
The total number of IDPs in the world is difficult to estimate and there are problems of definition, but it is widely believed that some 50 million people in all are displaced from their homes as IDPs or refugees : approaching one per cent of the world population. In addition there are other populations affected by ongoing or recent civil conflict, who were not counted as displaced or who have returned to their places of origin. A recent study listed 39 countries as having internally displaced populations of 50,000 or over, with six countries –Afghanistan, Angola, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sudan cited as having internally displaced populations approaching or exceeding one million.(7)
Natural and man-made disasters cause severe damage to education systems. In the case of natural catastrophes the damage is often to school buildings and educational materials. War and violent conflict cause even greater damage, affecting the whole organisational basis of education. There are often dramatic falls in student numbers, due to ongoing fear of attacks, displacement of teachers, destruction and looting of infrastructure and materials, and collapse of local and sometimes national educational administration. In many recent conflicts, the majority of schools have been destroyed or damaged, while others have been used for residential purposes or barracks and need rehabilitation. In Somalia, the war almost totally destroyed the nation’s textbooks and curricula.(8)
3. Emergency education as a development intervention
Education in emergencies has often been seen as a ‘relief’ effort, a temporary measure. This implies that it is optional, in the case of funding problems, and that it need not be designed in a professional manner. As noted in UNICEF’s policy paper ‘Any emergency education programme must be a development programme and not merely a stop-gap measure that will halt when a particular situation is no longer experiencing intense media coverage.’(9) Indeed, since weaknesses in education structures and content may have contributed to civil conflict, an emergency can provide an opportunity for positive change.
‘Emergencies can provide an opportunity for transforming education along the lines envisaged at the Jomtien World Conference for All. They allow for the possibility of reconstructing a social institution that helps develop and form the human resources that determine the way a society functions. The challenge to educators is to understand this, plan for it under very stressful and difficult situations, and to assist with putting facilitating mechanisms in place.’ (UNICEF,1999b)
Among the many countries facing the problems of a generation inured to conflict or traumatised by participating in it we may cite Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, much of the former Yugoslavia, and parts of the former Soviet Union.
It is important to reflect on the fact that many of the poorest countries in the world today are those recently affected by conflict. Investment in the education of the populations involved in those conflicts can represent an investment not only in a better future for those individuals, families and communities but for their country and indeed for neighboring countries too. Neglect of education can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of violence and poverty, whereby young people grow up only learning the skills of conflict and the attitudes of revenge.
Education in emergency is a humanitarian imperative which has development-promoting outcomes. In this study, we seek to assess recent achievements and the state of the art in respect of education in emergencies, within the perspective of laying the foundations for the development process.
4. Methodology of the study
The field of education in emergency and post-emergency situations is rather new, and poorly documented. In order to prepare the Theme Paper for this rapidly changing and developing field, a group of agencies (seven UN organisations and 11 NGOs) were invited to join an International Task Force, which met formally in UNESCO in May and September 1999. Members of the Task Force were invited to send questionnaires to their respective field offices. Twenty four responses were received, providing information on 52 specific programmes from different parts of the world. This was supplemented by case studies of another 12 programmes. Due to time constraints, some Task Force members submitted documentation based on their existing records. Analysis of this material provided insights on which the conclusions of this Theme Paper are based. A summary of the survey data is presented in the Annexes. Policy papers, programme overviews and case studies from UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, ILO, UNESCO and NGOs represented a vital input into the analysis and conclusions of the study.
Based on this information, and a review of documentary sources, a first draft of the Theme Study was presented to the Task Force in September 1999. Based on comments and additional information received a second draft was circulated to the Task Force members in November 1999.
In April 2000 it was presented as a working document to the Special Strategy Session (round table) within EFA Dakar Forum.
Return to contents
[ Discussion Forum | Contact | Site map | Search this site | top ]