The INEE website has moved to You are currently viewing the static archive of the former INEE website, established in May 2019.

Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Adolescents and Youth

In general, adolescents are much more likely to be out of school than children of primary school age - 17% are out of school globally compared to 9% of primary school aged children (UNESCO/UNICEF, 2015). 

Of the 263 million children and youth who are currently out of school, 60 million are young adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14 years), and 142 million are youth of upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17 years) (UIS/GEM Report, 2016).

Less than 1% of youth who become refugees due to conflict have access to tertiary education (UNHCR, 2015).

Upon reaching adolescent age, children face additional pressures that can cause them to drop out of school. As they get older, it becomes more likely that vulnerable families will choose to send them to work instead of school.

In crisis contexts, education and training play a critical role in creating an environment where all young people can develop a sense of agency and purpose, gain livelihood skills, and become actors for peace and stability. Just 79% of young people are literate in conflict affected states compared with 93% in other countries (UNESCO, 2011). And yet, all too often, even where education is available in emergencies, most programs target younger primary-aged children, with too little investment in the developmental and protection rights and needs of youth.

Emergencies can also open up opportunities for adolescent girls to have greater access to education. At 48%, gross enrolment ratios in secondary education are nearly 20% lower in conflict-affected countries and are far lower for girls (UNDP, 2015). In emergency response, the costs of education for girls may be reduced or eliminated; other barriers like sanitation may be eliminated; and additional issues may be addressed in education reforms.

The INEE Minimum Standards considers youth as people between 15 and 24 years and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19. Together they form the largest category of young people, those aged between 10 and 24 years. Definitions and age ranges vary from one context to another depending on socio-cultural, institutional, economic, and political factors. Within a country or culture, there can be different ages at which an individual is considered to be mature enough to be entrusted by society with certain responsibilities and tasks. In emergency situations, adolescents have needs and contributions to make that are different from those of younger children and adults. Youth refers to a period of progression towards independent responsibility. 


Key Messages

  1. Plan: Adequately funded education sector plans must include young people’s needs, focusing on the positive role empowered youth play in helping their communities mitigate crisis and move towards development.
  2. Prioritise: Diversified and holistic educational pathways that are age appropriate across the developmental spectrum of young people between 10 and 24 years old must be provided in order to address the large array of needs, while simultaneously harnessing the potential of young people in all circumstances, including in crisis and fragile environments.
  3. Protect: Engaging youth in decision-making processes is an efficient way for them to develop the life skills necessary to confront the threats encountered in crisis and fragile environments.


Key Activities


INEE Adolescents and Youth Task Team

The INEE Adolescents and Youth Task Team (AYTT) is composed of committed individuals from UN agencies, international and national NGOs, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers who work collaboratively on technical tasks. The team’s goal is to ensure a coordinated, evidence-based response to the educational rights, needs and aspirations of adolescents and youth affected by crisis. The INEE Adolescent and Youth Task Team is open to anyone who is interested in education for youth in crisis contexts. If you are interested in participating in this Task Team, please visit this page to learn more.

2015 Roundtable: Role of Education & Youth in Preventing Urban Violence & Violent Extremism

The INEE Working Group on Education & Fragility hosted a round table to share research and experience on education, urban violence, and violent extremism, in the hopes to identify areas of priority for research and engagement. A number of presentations and case studies were presented to the Working Group and external participants.

Webinar on Adolescents and Youth Programming in Crisis Contexts

Presentations, documents, and an audio-video recording of this 1-hour webinar from March 2012 are available through the links below. This webinar was organized by INEE and the Education Cluster.

2010 Policy Roundtable: An Enabling Right: Education for Youth Affected by Crisis

The 2010 Policy Roundtable brought together a diverse group of policymakers, practitioners, donors, and youth to strategize around how to close critical gaps in advocacy, financing, and service delivery for youth affected by crisis.

From the working group and plenary discussions, four foundational principles for work with youth emerged. These include: 1) the centrality of youth participation in all areas of work; 2) the need to take a balanced, sector-wide focus; 3) the importance of utilizing a cross-sectoral approach to ensure youth are seen holistically in terms of their physical, mental, social, developmental, and political needs; and 4) the necessity for evidence-based policy and programming to ensure access to quality opportunities for youth affected by crisis.

For more information on the 2010 Policy Roundtable and to download the Outcome Report and three Framing Papers, please visit the INEE website. Links to the three papers are also listed below.

Key Resources



Do you have something you think should be added to this page?
Let us know by writing to [email protected]. Thank you!