Education in emergencies expert Emile Ntampera talking to students in a school where South Sudanese refugee children learn together with Ugandan children. Imvepi refugee settlement. (Photo: NORCAP/Ida Sem Fossvik)

The Global Education Cluster and the EU are working with partners to strengthen rapid education responses

Press release|Published 07. Sep 2021
Every child has the right to develop their talents and competencies to unlock their potential, starting from early childhood and throughout their schooling and vocational training. This right does not cease in humanitarian emergencies.

Continued access to safe, quality, and inclusive education in these contexts is paramount, equipping children and young people with essential skills to thrive, as well as protection and normalcy. As such, education is a powerful vehicle for peace, reintegration and resilience for children, youth and their communities whose lives have been upended by humanitarian emergencies.  

“We cannot forget about the education of children and young people caught in humanitarian crises. Prioritizing their right to learn from the beginning of a humanitarian response - even in the most challenging and complex situations, is instrumental to not only realize Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education), but also empower them with tools and skills to rebuild their communities for future generations", Meritxell Relaño Arana, Deputy Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF emphasized.  

Despite its critical formative and protective role, education is often not prioritized, nor is it included in the first phase of a humanitarian response. 

With generous contribution from, and in partnership with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), the Global Education Cluster is working with NORCAP, REACH, Save the Children, Translators without Borders, UNESCO IIEP and UNICEF to address barriers preventing children, living in situations where humanitarian access is limited, from realising their right to receive quality education. This challenge will be tackled by developing tools, gathering evidence, and building capacities of key humanitarian and education actors, including Ministries of Education, to promote and facilitate the systemic inclusion of education in Rapid Response Mechanisms (RRMs).  

RRMs provide prompt humanitarian assistance in the wake of sudden onset emergencies and conflict situations and are proven to effectively reach the most vulnerable communities with multi-sectoral assistance. As such, strengthening the inclusion of education in RRMs provides an opportunity to mitigate significant disruptions to children’s education caused by the crises they are caught in.  

“Including education in the RRM is much needed in Niger. In the event of a shock, education must be able to provide rapid support for continuity of services in the same way as other sectors”, Djibrilla Abdou and Moussa Issoufa Halidou, Cluster Co-Coordinators, Niger Education Cluster highlighted. 

This multi-partner project works towards achieving three key results: 

Initial work is underway against these result areas. 

Under Result 1: 
REACH led the development of a comprehensive mapping of all Rapid Response Mechanisms, including a lessons learned exercise on the inclusion of education within rapid needs assessments. 

Using this mapping to determine country selection, the University of Sussex has been commissioned by UNICEF on behalf of the partners to develop an evidence base on rapid education responses.

This includes a mapping of education in emergencies response interventions, an inception report, country case studies (DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, and one study for the Central Sahel covering Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger), and a synthesis report. The inception report was finalized in February 2021 and work on the pilot South Sudan case study is underway.  

Additionally, UNESCO IIEP has kick-started work on 3 country case studies – Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan – exploring the role of the government in first-phase education responses and the link to longer-term development projects to ensure the continuity of learning 
Translators without Borders has been engaged to provide translation support, language analysis and sensitivity considerations throughout the evidence building process. 

Concerning results 2 and 3, the partners have kicked off initial work on tools and capacity development using findings from the RRM Mapping and country support discussions with education cluster teams in Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Niger.  

“The EU is committed to minimising the disruption of education for children affected by crises. Education services are crucial and should be delivered since the early stages of an emergency. The Global Education Cluster project – through its guidance, tools development and capacity building – will certainly improve the overall coordination and quality of education rapid response”, Kamila Partyka, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) said.