The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this review do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the IIEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.

The publication costs of this study have been covered through a grant-in-aid offered by UNESCO and by voluntary contributions made by several Member States of UNESCO.

Published by:

International Institute for Educational Planning 7-9 rue Eugene Delacroix, 75116 Paris e-mail: IIEP web site:

Layout and cover design: Sabine Lebeau Typesetting: Sabine Lebeau Printed in IIEP’s printshop ISBN: 92-803-1288-X ©UNESCO 2006





Access to education is a fundamental tool for child protection. Education inherently provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection. In appropriate security conditions, physical protection may be enhanced by the provision of adult supervision and a safe place to play. Psychosocial protection is offered through opportunities for self-expression, the expansion of social networks and access to structure and regular routines. By placing children in the social role of learners, education gives children a sense of purpose and self-worth. Finally, education contributes to the cognitive protection of children affected by conflict or crises by addressing specific living conditions that arise from conflict (landmine awareness or health issues), strengthening childrens analytical abilities, and giving children the tools they need to develop skills for citizenship and life in peace. Education saves lives; education sustains life. Thus, education is an essential element of response efforts to conflicts or crises (Nicolai and Triplehorn, 2003). This Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction aims to support educational authorities in providing equal access to education of quality for children affected by conflict or disaster.


The Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (hereafter referred to as the Guidebook) is addressed primarily to staff of ministries of education, including

national, provincial and district level planners and managers, in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters, or hosting refugees from a neighbouring state. This is the first time that detailed guidance on education in emergencies and reconstruction has been prepared specifically from this perspective.

From the inception of its Programme for Education in Emergencies and Reconstruction, IIEP has been working to fill this gap in the support materials available to ministries. In April 2003, 20 international experts on education in emergencies and reconstruction met in Gourdon, France, to produce the first drafts of this Guidebook . Since then, the text has been reviewed, edited and enriched to produce the 38 chapters that now constitute the Guidebook . A number of Ministry of Education officials from across the globe, as well as other education practitioners and planners from a range of international organizations, were consulted in the editorial process.

The value of the Guidebook has been enriched immeasurably by reference to a wide literature, which is thoroughly and consistently cited in the 'References and further reading’ section at the end of each chapter. Of particular importance in the drafting were the volumes published in IIEP’s series, 'Education in emergencies and reconstruction’. The seminal work was the start-of-the art review written by Margaret Sinclair (2002), entitled Planning education in and after emergencies . Complementing that work is a thematic study of co-ordination of education in emergencies and reconstruction (Sommers, 2004). Five published case studies, on Rwanda (Obura, 2003), education of Rwandan refugees (Bird, 2003), Kosovo (Sommers and Buckland,



2004), Timor Leste (Nicolai, 2004) and the Southern Sudanese (Sommers, 2005), have provided valuable material to illustrate the principles and guidance of the Guidebook .

This Guidebook is also intended for staff of United Nations organizations, donor agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in support of ministries to promote education for emergency-affected populations. Staff of those agencies will benefit from a fuller awareness of the ways in which they can strengthen national capacities for planning and management of education in and after periods of emergency.

In many countries, some aspects of education are covered by ministries or organizations other than the Ministry of Education. There may be a separate Ministry of Higher Education, for example. There may also be educational programmes for youth and persons with disabilities, or specific programmes that target gender inequity that are overseen by other ministries. Moreover, ministries such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Labour will be important partners for the Ministry of Education. These partners can help to determine whether the output of the education system actually corresponds with the needs in the labour market. Experts from these sectors may also be important sources of information in the drafting of education plans, curriculum reforms, or teachers’ conditions of service. In this Guidebook , however, for brevity we shall refer to the Ministry of Education as shorthand for all ministries handling education matters.

In many situations of emergency and reconstruction, external agencies resume responsibility for a smaller or larger part of the education system. In some situations, the government simply may not have control on the ground. Here, the Guidebook refers to the ‘authority’ responsible for education in those areas. The reader may make the necessary adjustments to take account of this fact in countries where education is covered by multiple ministries or authorities, or by different non-governmental actors.


The Guidebook focuses to a considerable extent on ensuring access to quality schooling at primary and secondary levels during emergencies. However, attention is also paid to early childhood development, vocational education, post-primary and higher education and non- formal education.

The term 'formal education is used here to refer to regular schooling that follows a normal pattern - admission of students at about age six or over, promotion from grade to grade on a yearly basis, and use of a curriculum that covers a wide range of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. This term is used even though some elements may be added or temporarily omitted as a consequence of the emergency. A formal education system comprises primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction


The term hon-formal education is reserved for educational activities delivered to targeted social groups, where there is a possibility to provide attention to individual learners. Those activities may include courses, workshops and apprenticeships that meet specific needs of society and its members, in fields such as literacy and numeracy, health and childcare, training in informal sector businesses, life skills such as conflict management, peace and human rights education and environmental education, although some of those topics may also be addressed in formal school settings.

The term \ informal education refers to learning channels, such as mass media and mass publicity campaigns, where there is little or no possibility for attention to the individual.


The Guidebook presents examples of the problems faced in different kinds of emergencies, and suggests policy options and strategies that have been found useful in such situations (see the Guidebook , Chapter 2} ‘Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction', for information on the typology used: different types and phases of emergencies and different population groups) . It must be stressed, however that each emergency situation is different: each conflict or disaster takes its own particular trajectory, carries its own history and affects a particular country or countries differently depending on specific traditions in the field of education and culture, and specific economic and social problems and possibilities. The suggestions offered in the Guidebook thus constitute a checklist of points to consider. The Guidebook should not be considered a universally applicable model of activities to be undertaken, nor is it a static document. Care must always be taken to adjust the strategies and suggestions with regard to the local situation.


This Guidebook is organized in six sections - two introductory sections and four thematic sections:


General overview

Access and inclusion

Teachers and learners

Curriculum and learning

Management capacity

Chapter 1: Introduction


In the ‘Basics’ section, this ‘Introduction’ is followed by a review of the contextual factors that must be considered when planning and providing education in emergencies and reconstruction. The second chapter, ‘Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction’, describes a number of issues that are relevant to all the topics in the Guidebook . It not only looks at some general challenges, but also how these will vary, intensify or abate, depending on the type of emergency, the type of population group concerned or the phase of emergency.

Also included in this section is the third chapter, ‘Capacity building’. Many crosscutting topics, such as gender or peace education, have been treated in separate chapters in the Guidebook . However, the issue of capacity building is crosscutting in a slightly different sense. It is the main objective of this Guidebook , and ultimately a prerequisite for improving the quality of education in any of the areas or topics that are treated in the different chapters.

In the section entitled ‘General overview’, there is only one chapter: Chapter 4} ‘Education for all in emergencies and reconstruction’. This chapter addresses the fundamental theories and principles of education in emergencies and reconstruction. It outlines the main reasons why children are not in school, what can be done about it and what other Guidebook chapters may be consulted when attempting to do so. Chapter 4 should therefore be used as a reference for all chapters and topics in the Guidebook , and is recommended reading for all users, regardless of their particular responsibilities.

The last four sections in the Guidebook cover a comprehensive range of topics relevant to education in emergencies and reconstruction. Each chapter starts with an overview of the context and the factors that influence educational response in relation to that topic: context and challenges. Next, each Guidebook chapter provides suggestions regarding possible strategies - actions that may be taken by the educational authorities to deal with these problems. In some cases, it is the educational authorities themselves that will be the education providers, while in other instances, the main role of the educational authorities will be to co-ordinate and facilitate the work of other education providers.

Following the suggested strategies, in most chapters there is a list of ‘Tools and resources’ that can be utilized when implementing some of the suggested strategies. ‘Tools and resources’ contain an explanation of important concepts, action check-lists and examples of calculations, models or evaluation tools. In each chapter, there are a number of useful case studies of how different countries have addressed the challenges under discussion.

Each chapter ends with a list of references and suggestions for further reading.

The Guidebook is presented in loose-leaf format. This permits users to refer to particular chapters without needing to carry the full Guidebook on all occasions. Nevertheless, there are frequent cross-references between Guidebook chapters, to allow readers to benefit to the maximum from the linkages between topics.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction



The Inter-Agency Network on Education in Emergencies (INEE) is an open network of United Nations agencies, NGOs, donors, practitioners, researchers and individuals from affected populations working together to ensure the right to education in emergencies and post-crisis reconstruction. At a Strategy Session on Education in Situations of Emergency and Crisis at the World Education Forum in Dakar, April 2000, a decision was taken to develop a process of inter-agency communication and co-operation in order to improve response to education in emergencies. INEE was then founded with the aim of promoting access and completion of education of quality for all persons affected by emergencies, crises or chronic instability, within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the EFA Declaration and the Dakar Framework.

INEE was not defined as a distinct agency with bureaucratic functions, but rather as an open network based on the principles of collaboration and information sharing, with specific attention given to avoiding duplication, while at the same time promoting a diversity of approaches and gender sensitivity. INEE brings together and supports agencies, organizations, communities and individuals in their ongoing work by consolidating and disseminating learning materials, resources and experiences, including good practices, tools and research guidelines. INEE also identifies and fills technical resource gaps, encouraging the development of these resources through task teams convened by INEE organizational members. Moreover, INEE is a flexible and responsive network that, through advocacy, urges institutions and governments to work together to ensure the right to quality education of those affected by conflict and natural disasters.

As of September 2005, INEE had well over 1,000 individual members and more than 300 organizational members, representing a diverse array of organizations. At present, a steering group, composed of representatives from CARE International, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the International Save the Children Alliance, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Bank, provides direction and leadership for the INEE Secretariat.

This Guidebook is placed at the disposal of all INEE members on the IIEP website:



One of the most significant developments in the field of education in emergencies and reconstruction has been the recent definition and articulation (through a major consultative process by INEE’s membership) of Minimum standards for education in emergencies , chronic crises and early reconstruction (MSEE). The minimum standards are intended to increase

Chapter 1: Introduction




accountability of education providers to affected communities, government, the internal management of individual agencies and donors. Launched in December 2004, the standards are an expression of the commitment that all individuals - children, youth and adults - have a right to quality education during and after emergencies. In reality, however, more than half of the world's out-of-school children live in countries affected by emergencies, or recovering from them. Conflict and disaster are thus among the main barriers to achieving 'Education for Alf and the second of the Millennium Development Goals (see also the Guidebook, Chapter 4, 'Education for all in emergencies and reconstruction'.

This Guidebook, like the MSEE handbook, is intended to be an expression of that commitment to ensuring education for all - even in the midst of crises. It is meant to be a capacity building and training tool for governments, donors and international agencies to improve their contribution to this commitment. We hope that you find it a useful tool and look forward to receiving comments and suggestions for improvement. Please send your feedback on any aspect of the Guidebook to guidebook@uep*unesco*org - it will be taken into account in any future revision of the Guidebook .

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction




December2004 saw the launch of the first everglobal standards for education in emergencies and early reconstruction. The Minimum standards for education in emergencies, chronic crises and early reconstruction (MSEE) were the result of a two-year consultative process, facilitated by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), and involving over 2,250 individuals from more than 50 countries. The standards represent a universal tool to define a minimum level of educational quality and help ensure the right to education for people affected by crisis. It is thus both a practical handbook and an expression of the commitment that all individuals - children, youth and adults - have a right to education during emergencies. The minimum standards are built on the foundations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Dakar Education for All (EFA) framework, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter. Like the Sphere Project’s Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, the standards are meant to be used as a capacity building and training tool. They will also enhance accountability and predictability among humanitarian actors, and improve co-ordination among partners, including educational authorities.

The handbook offers a set of minimum standards, key indicators and guidance notes that inform humanitarian action in the context of education, from the development of educational programmes to their implementation and continuity, as well as government and community support. The minimum standards are presented in five categories. These are:

Minimum standards common to all categories: this section focuses on the essential areas of community participation and the use of local resources when applying the standards contained in the handbook. It stresses the importance of basing emergency education responses on an initial assessment that is followed by an appropriate response and continued monitoring and evaluation.

Access and learning environment: focuses on partnerships to promote access to learning opportunities and inter-sectoral linkages with, for example, health, water and sanitation, food aid / nutrition and shelter, to enhance security and physical, cognitive and psychological well-being.

Teaching and learning: focuses on critical elements that promote effective teaching and learning: (a) curriculum; (b) training; (c) instruction; and (d) assessment.

Teachers and other education personnel: focuses on the administration and management of human resources in the field of education, including recruitment and selection, conditions of service, and supervision and support.

Education policy and co-ordination: focuses on policy formulation and enactment, planning and implementation, and co-ordination.

The MSEE working group is currently moving the MSEE process forward through the promotion, training, piloting, monitoring and evaluation of the standards. By September 2005, 17,500 handbooks had been distributed all over the world. Training materials have been developed on the standards and a process is under way to pilot and test the impact and quality of the standards in various emergency and reconstruction settings. Information on the standards and related activities can be found on http://wwwJneesite*org

Source: INEE (2004).

Chapter 1: Introduction





Bird, L. 2003. Surviving school: education for refugee children from Rwanda 1994-1996 . Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2004. Minimum standards for education in emergencies , chronic crises and early reconstruction . Paris: INEE.

Nicolai, S. 2004. Learning independence: education in emergency and transition in Timor-Leste since 1999 . Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Nicolai, S.; Triplehorn, C. 2003. The role of education in protecting children in conflict (Humanitarian Practice Network Paper 42). London: Overseas Development Institute.

Obura, A. 2003. Never again: educational reconstruction in Rwanda . Paris: IIEP- UNESCO.

Sinclair, M. 2002. Planning education in and after emergencies (Fundamentals of educational planning, no. 73). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Sommers, M. 2004. Co-ordinating education during emergencies and reconstruction: challenges and responsibilities . Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Sommers, M. 2005. Islands of education: schooling , civil war and the Southern Sudanese (1983- 2004). Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Sommers, M.; Buckland P. 2004. Parallel worlds: rebuilding the education system in Kosovo . Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction





United Nations [ International

Educational, Scientific and j Institute for

Cultural Organization * Educational



The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this review do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO or the IIEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.

The publication costs of this study have been covered through a grant-in-aid offered by UNESCO and by voluntary contributions made by several Member States of UNESCO.

Published by:

International Institute for Educational Planning 7-9 rue Eugene Delacroix, 75116 Paris e-mail: IIEP web site:

Layout and cover design: Sabine Lebeau Typesetting: Sabine Lebeau Printed in IIEP’s printshop ISBN: 92-803-1288-X ©UNESCO 2006



All parts of this Guidebook deal with the challenges involved in providing quality education in situations of emergency and reconstruction. The challenges range from physical destruction of school buildings to lack of funding, materials and qualified teachers, to discrimination against minority groups, security issues or problems of co-ordination. Each Guidebook chapter gives detailed explanation of the issues that must be tackled in relation to the topic of that particular chapter, and suggests strategies for how this can be done. For example, providing education for former child soldiers will pose different challenges to dealing with children with disabilities. Education for early childhood development requires different strategies to tackling post-primary education.

However, certain challenges (such as poverty or problems with security) are generic to all of these issues. Such generic challenges are analyzed here, not in relation to a particular group of children, or a particular task within the management of the education system, but in relation to the type of emergency, the larger population group concerned and the phase of the emergency. The figure below is an illustration of this typology.

This figure shows the interrelationships between types of emergency (scenarios) , affected popula- tions and phases. These matters are discussed in detail below.



Source: IIEP (2005). Adapted from a model developed by Rob Fuderich of UNICEF and Peter Buckland of the World Bank.



Emergency scenarios include civil conflicts, complex chronic emergencies, which involve multiple civil conflicts with international involvement, natural disasters and development- induced displacement, which is not specifically covered in this Guidebook .

Population groups affected by emergencies include refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and non-migrants, people whose lives and schooling are disrupted by conflict, but who do not flee.

Phases Of emergency include contingency planning and preparedness, to which this whole Guidebook seeks to make a contribution, the acute onset, protracted emergencies (which may be referred to by some as care and maintenance’), return and reintegration and early reconstruction.

The different categories used in this typology are neither fully exhaustive nor discrete. The phases of an emergency are very rarely sequential. International conflict may be entangled in civil conflict. A natural disaster may be exacerbated by a conflict rising in its aftermath. IDPs may become refugees as the emergency evolves, or vice versa. Both refugees and IDPs may eventually become returnees. Moreover, one population group that is not specified in this categorization concerns those who are neither migrants nor themselves living in the emergency-affected area, but who are none the less affected by it (e.g. inhabitants of a neighbouring country or province suddenly faced with a large influx of refugees or IDPs).

Similarly, emergency phases overlap and recur. An acute emergency may turn into a so- called protracted emergency, or into what some humanitarian agencies call the ‘care and maintenance’ phase. This phase may then be disrupted by the sudden outbreak of a new, acute crisis. One part of a country may be facilitating the return of its inhabitants and organize efforts at reconstruction whilst another part is faced with a new upsurge in a conflict, or is hit by a new natural disaster.

This three-dimensional categorization is still useful when dealing with the planning and management of education in emergencies and reconstruction. The same challenge - be it poverty or lack of funding - will require different interventions and strategies in different types or phases of an emergency or with different population groups. Moreover, agencies operating in emergencies and reconstruction will generally be using some variation of this categorization in their work.

Some agencies and organizations have a mandate to work only in the early phases of an emergency or with one particular population group, such as refugees. Their so-called entry or exit strategies and their funding and evaluation mechanisms are likely to be built on some form of categorization of emergency type or phase, or population group concerned. The examples given above demonstrate how phases, types and groups overlap, recur and/or blend. This fact points to the obvious complexity of emergencies and reconstruction, but also to the need for holistic approaches to these challenges. Quick fixes, short-term strategies or strategies that address the challenges of one emergency-affected group, or one phase only, will never meet the overall challenge of providing education for all in emergencies and reconstruction.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction



The Guidebook focuses on the impact of war and natural disaster on the education of children, youth and adults affected by the crisis. It does not directly cover the so-called 'silent emergencies', such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, street children, etc. This is to maintain its focus on responding to conflict and disaster. However, issues of poverty and health among populations affected by conflict or disaster are considered in almost every section of the Guidebook .

Civil conflict

Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of armed conflicts within countries, called civil conflicts here. By far the largest portion of the worlds 36 conflicts in 2003 were civil conflicts. These severely disrupt education, and may lead some people to move away from the affected areas. Challenges include the following:

Because the unequal or biased provision of education is often one of the elements that provoke civil conflict, schools, teachers and students themselves may become targets in such conflicts.

According to the fourth Geneva Convention (1949), military occupation forces must facilitate institutions devoted to the care and education of children. Its first Protocol (1977) states that schools are guaranteed protection from military attack. Nevertheless, schools may be destroyed, damaged or looted during the conflict - making them unusable for educational activities.

Some children may have been subjected, or may be vulnerable in the future, to military recruitment, forced labour, rape or prostitution. Some may have contracted H1V/A1DS, which spreads more rapidly during armed conflicts. Access to schooling may help protect them.

Educational authorities may be unable to physically access some parts of the country to determine whether children have access to schooling.

Teachers may have been killed or have fled.

Complex chronic emergencies

Countries may also suffer chronic insecurity and intermittent civil conflict, with international intervention, which means that the administration of education becomes very difficult, either through fighting in some parts of the country or through the economic impacts, which reduce the funds available for education. Challenges include the following:

Most challenges listed for civil conflict apply, and are intensified as the conflict is prolonged.

Children and families may lack sufficient food and be unable to afford clothing suitable for attending school, or other school-related costs.

Chapter 2: Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction




Families may not be able to afford the opportunity costs associated with their children attending school rather than earning money by scavenging, etc.

Schools may be in use or have been used as temporary shelters for displaced people or may be taken over and used by military forces.

Schools, and the route to and from schools, may be hazardous due to landmines, unexploded ordnance, etc.

Rapid education response may be impeded by poor roads and by limited capacity for handling freight at airports.

Natural disasters

Natural disasters will also carry serious challenges for the education system. The devastation of floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, storms, tsunamis and other natural disasters can cause the destruction of schools and other educational institutions, and may kill or isolate a large number of teachers and students. According to the World disasters report , published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (1FRCRC, 2004), the number of natural and technological disasters is dramatically increasing. From 1994 to 1998, reported disasters averaged 428 per year. From 1999 to 2003, this figure shot up by two thirds to an average of 707 disasters each year. The biggest rise was in countries of low human development, which suffered an increase of 142 per cent. There is also strong correlation between a country’s level of development and that country’s vulnerability in natural disasters. In other words, people living in conflict or poverty-ridden countries are likely to suffer the most when a catastrophe strikes. Over the past decade, disasters in countries of high human development (HHD) killed an average of 44 people per event, while disasters in countries of low human development (LHD) killed an average of 300 people per event (1FRCRC, 2004). Particular challenges for the education system include the following:

Families may have lost all their assets and be unable to send their children to school due to lack of food, clothing, etc.

Schools and their contents may be damaged or destroyed, making them permanently or temporarily unavailable for learning activities.

Schools may be used as shelters for people who have been displaced from their homes due to the natural disaster.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction




A refugee is a person who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country . .

The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees

Particular challenges facing refugees seeking education include:

Refugee families have suffered unforeseen displacement and sometimes traumatic circumstances. Many families are keen to admit their children into school but some are traumatized, and others too preoccupied with subsistence problems to do this.

The host government may refuse or be unable to admit refugee children to local schools. However, even when refugee children are admitted into local schools, there may be access problems. For example, local schools may already be overcrowded, especially in urban areas; the refugee population may be too large; teachers may not speak the same language/the languages of instruction may be different, the curriculum will likely be different, etc. In these conditions, separate schools are needed for refugee children, especially at primary level.

Educational access is generally greatest for refugees when they live in camps or settlements (rather than scattered among the host populations). UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, has the mandate to support education for refugees, as a contribution to a durable solution to their problems, and to help the host country government meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights instruments. UNHCR has issued Education field guidelines, specifying its education policy commitments, and giving guidance to its implementing partners and other service providers of education to refugees (UNHCR, 2003).

Refugees may be unable to pay the fees normally charged to foreigners for admission to university or other courses. As a humanitarian principle, some governments admit refugee students to university for the same fees as nationals.

Humanitarian agencies often do not allocate large budgets to secondary or tertiary education, and cannot afford expensive scholarships for refugees. For this reason, it is often cheaper to support separate schools for refugees.

Chapter 2: Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction




However, if refugee numbers are small, it is more economical for them to attend local institutions of higher education. The net effect of high fees will be fewer students. Yet, acceptance of a good number of refugee students in national schools will help build good relationships for future co-operation between the host country and the refugee students' home country.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs)

For the purposes of these Principles, internally displaced persons are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.

Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

Particular challenges for the education of IDPs include the following:

As with refugees, 1DP families have suffered forced displacement and sometimes traumatic circumstances. Many families are keen to admit their children into school but some are traumatized, and others too preoccupied with subsistence problems to do this.

Security concerns are usually considerable, both for the IDPs and for agencies that would like to support education programmes. IDPs may not be welcomed by the local population or government.

In countries with multiple languages, 1DP children and youth may be unable to integrate into local schools if they do not know the language.

1DP camps and settlements may not receive attention from national or international authorities or organizations for some time after a crisis has occurred. Therefore, access to schooling may be delayed.

No United Nations body has the mandate to ensure education for IDPs - in camps or dispersed throughout the country.

Usually there are fewer resources for 1DP education - both from the international community and the government.

For IDPs in reasonably secure situations, educational authorities generally try to provide education in existing schools. This puts an extra burden on local schools, if enrolment increases substantially. For large 1DP camps or settlements, additional schools will be needed.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction


In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, governments should assist NGOs, United Nations agencies or communities in organizing schools for IDPs, if children are out of school.


It is possible for a whole area to become deserted, but often part of an emergency-affected population may not be able or may not wish to leave their homes during conflict or insecurity. This may include those who are too poor, old or sick to migrate. People may be trapped by warfare. In the Guidebook , these are referred to as non-migrants. Particular challenges include the following:

Non-migrants’ access to education may be completely cut off for reasons of security, the flight of local teachers, lack of school materials, or the lack of resources to sustain education in the community.

Administration of the national school system is extremely difficult in areas of conflict and insecurity.

Resentment may occur if agencies give particular assistance or preferable treatment to refugees, IDPs or returnees. Those who ‘stayed behind’ may feel they carried the brunt of the burden of the emergency.


Another category referred to in the Guidebook are returnees - refugees or IDPs who have made the journey back to their home country or area. Some particular challenges and issues are listed here:

Some returnees may not want to return to their original home areas for reasons of safety and security. This may concentrate the number of students into fewer areas of return, leading to pressure on facilities in those areas.

Some returnees find that schools in their home areas have been badly damaged or destroyed during the conflict or after a natural disaster.

Returnee families may not have the resources to pay for their children’s education. In some cases, the international community may be present and providing resources for returnees, which may be resented by local communities. Assistance should be directed to broadly defined returnee-receiving areas.

Both returnee families and those who never migrated may have lived through years of poverty due to war and insecurity. Consequently, they may find it difficult to support their children in school or provide resources to re-establish or operate schools.

Chapter 2: Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction





Organizations concerned with humanitarian response and development assistance have their own definitions of emergency, from a period of a few weeks during the onset of a crisis, through to the return to normalcy after a period of reconstruction (Sinclair, 2002: 21-23).

For the purposes of this Guidebook, ‘emergency’ is used in a broad sense to mean the entire period of crisis, and the early steps towards restoring normal functioning of the national education system. Different phases, albeit not discrete and very rarely sequential, will carry different challenges.

Acute onset

The Guidebook refers to the acute onset phase of an emergency. Particular challenges include the following:

Children may be cut off from their existing schools and communities; they will need safe spaces that are designated for educational activities.

Children and youth may have undergone horrific and stressful conditions as a result of displacement, and may even have become separated from their parents or family members; safe spaces for learning activities are essential for their protection.

Access for adolescents can also be critical in order to protect them from dangers such as military recruitment, child labour, prostitution, etc.

Insecurity and logistical problems may make it difficult for education supervisors or non-governmental providers to reach emergency-affected populations, or to ship educational materials to meet their needs.

In some cases, there may be many organizations acting to support education in acute emergencies; while in other situations, help may be lacking.

Protracted phases

An emergency becomes protracted if it continues for a long period. Particular challenges in such situations include the following:

Capacity-building events may be interrupted and/or cannot be followed up. Monitoring and assessment may be difficult.

Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction


Due to poverty as well as limited educational quality, it may be difficult to get all children into primary school and to retain them for the whole primary cycle.

If post-primary educational opportunities are insufficient, young people may be vulnerable to harmful activities. There will also be a disincentive to completing primary school if the ladder of educational opportunity terminates at the primary level.

Girls may see prostitution as the only way to earn money, including covering school costs.

For protracted emergencies, 1DP and refugee children and adolescents need access to education systems of quality not less than in their home country/ region, and suited to their eventual voluntary repatriation. The curriculum and examinations should be recognized by home and host country governments, so that children and youth can move to higher levels of education (as called for in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Return, reintegration and reconstruction

These phases occur when populations displaced to neighbouring countries (refugees) or to sites in their own country (IDPs) return home, and when the government initiates the process of renewal of the national or local education systems affected by the emergency. Particular challenges include the following:

There may be a backlog of unmet educational needs; this means that a large number of children and adolescents would be seeking to enter school at the same time.

At times of post-conflict or during post-disaster reconstruction, families may need the maximum labour for rebuilding homes, clearing farmland and earning enough to buy food, etc. Many will not be able to pay for school-related expenses. Insecurity may also be a factor limiting school enrolment.

Often there will be large numbers of children and youth who have missed out on schooling and who wish to enrol at the same time. Large quantities of textbooks and learning material will then be needed (for which international help may be requested) .

Many schools in emergency-affected areas may have been destroyed or badly damaged. Temporary shelter may be needed in order to open schools, while previous structures are rebuilt/rehabilitated/extended to accommodate the increased numbers of students.

Chapter 2: Challenges in emergencies and reconstruction




In post-conflict situations, landmines or unexploded ordnance may be present on school grounds and must be removed before education can be re-started in those places.

It is difficult to establish schools in advance of people’s return to deserted areas, which, in turn, may discourage return. Access for advance planning and reconstruction purposes may be hampered by insecurity, damage to roads, etc. Lack of well-functioning district/provincial education offices hampers action and co-ordination. Displaced teachers may be unwilling to return to rural areas.

It will be essential to ensure access in all areas and for all groups (e.g. ethnic, religious, etc.) in the country, especially those that were most affected by the conflict. Action will be needed to co-ordinate external assistance to ensure appropriate coverage for all affected areas, and that tensions are not created by a provision of resources that appears to discriminate between returnees and local populations that did not migrate.

There may be political pressure to focus national and donor funds on rebuilding large schools in politically favoured