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.  

About the partners

EU Humanitarian Aid  

The European Union and its Member States are the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Directorate-General (DG ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs. 

Global Education Cluster 

The Global Education Cluster, co-led by UNICEF and Save the Children, supports Country Education Clusters and Working Groups to work towards a predictable, holistic, equitable and well-coordinated response to meet growing education needs of crisis affected children and youth through capacity strengthening, tools and guidance development, robust assessment, analysis and advocacy.  


REACH, a joint initiative of IMPACT Initiatives, ACTED and the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme, is a leading humanitarian initiative providing granular data, timely information and in-depth analysis from contexts of crisis, disaster and displacement, feeding into aid response and decision-making by providing accessible and precise information on the humanitarian situation of crisis-affected populations.  

Save the Children 

Save the Children works to ensure children can survive, get an education, and are protected. It supports children and their families with access to learning, healthcare and nutrition, and livelihoods assistance. The organization’s child protection programs support vulnerable children, including unaccompanied and separated children and those affected by violence, and advocates for children’s rights at national, state and community levels, making sure children can fulfil their potential. 

Translators Without Borders 

TWB’s vision is to help ensure people can get vital information, and be heard, whatever language they speak. For the 4 billion people who don’t speak a well-resourced language, we support access to life-critical information and services that can save lives in emergencies and improve the quality of life every day. We also provide services to make sure they can make their own needs and views heard, working with a global community of translators, and deploying research and innovative language technology. 

UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning 

UNESCO IIEP is the only specialized UN organization with the mandate to support educational policy, planning and management. It was established in 1963 as an integral part of UNESCO. It develops the capacities of education actors to plan and manage their systems through its programmes of training, technical cooperation, policy research and knowledge sharing. 


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.