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

Practical Lessons from the Field: Part II

7 April 2014

An Interview with Gabriel El Khili, UNESCO

In Part II of this interview, Mr. El Khili speaks with Katie Zanoni, INEE Minimum Standards Team member, to discuss how the INEE Minimum Standards have influenced the Education in Emergencies (EiE) field.  In addition, Mr. El Khili offers specific ideas on how to address challenges to enhance the use of the INEE MS in the future.

See more interviews with INEE Working Group members here.

How have the INEE Minimum Standards strengthened the ability for education to be realized during crisis situations and/or development contexts?

The INEE Minimum Standards have been helpful in three ways: 1) INEE MS have been used as a tool in advocacy targeting policy makers and donors as well as establishing dialogue with development community; 2) INEE MS have helped with programmatic aspects, through fundraising, project design, monitoring and evaluation of projects; 3) INEE MS have also helped in coordination amongst the various stakeholders in the field and at the global level.

What impact do you believe the INEE Minimum Standards has had in shaping the Education in Emergencies (EiE) field?

Working in EiE is actually similar to a constant negotiation process because you have different interests among different stakeholders. Here you have two levels, the horizontal level where you have different actors including policy makers, technical people, academics, the private sector, donors, field oriented actors etc. On the other hand you have different approaches including EiE, recovery, reconstruction, development etc.  Therefore, it is essential to have a strong foundation to create a consensus within these groups. The INEE offers substance not only through the INEE MS but also through the other tools which gives INEE positive credibility.  I would note that the overall impact INEE has had in shaping the EiE field has been substantial; namely, a credible place to Education in Emergency and post-crisis.

Do you believe that the INEE Minimum Standards have the ability to bring people to the table with different cultural points of view about the right to education?

I think there are objective differences not only from a cultural point of view but also from a sociological point of view.  From a sociological point of view, INEE MS is a set of high standards and normative tools which are targeting different segments in the society including policy makers, practitioners, teachers, donors and others and this results in varied sociologically viewpoints.  The ultimate goal of INEE is to address these issues and respond to various expectations which is not an easy task, but it is possible.

In speaking about INEE as a normative tool there is also a kind of socio-cultural dimension.  It is true that some people might view education not as a priority for girls (Taliban in Afghanistan for example), but that remains very limited, as in general Muslims across the world are highly valuating education, as it is a duty according to the Koran.

What challenges have you witnessed in the application of the INEE Minimum Standards? Do you have specific suggestions in addressing these challenges you might offer?

One issue we have to highlight with regard to the EiE field of work is that the development community does not necessarily see INEE Minimum Standards as applicable for development, which is wrong. This tension between development and education in emergency must be addressed as we move forward.

There is also the issue of the prioritization of education in Humanitarian response lead by OCHA. A continued challenge is to ensure that education becomes a priority in the humanitarian response which should be addressed collectively through proper advocacy and funding initiatives.  This brings me to the major issue that is facing the INEE network, namely the future role of the INEE in the EiE field.  In fact, there are still many unanswered questions around defining the precise role and function of INEE as a network mainly in terms of upstream downstream work.

What do you envision for the future to enhance the use of the INEE Minimum Standards?

In the future, we need to use INEE MS as a tool to establish a more global comprehensive response to quality education that is inclusive of many different elements such as trainings and other activities.  We can also expand the use of the INEE tools beyond the immediate emergency response to more long-term initiatives to address preparedness, response and recovery efforts. By engaging in strategic planning focused on long-term programs, the EiE field based on INEE MS can continue a dialogue with policy makers and practitioners in the development field.  EiE professionals should work with the key stakeholders such as the Minister of Education and the development community because that is where we can enshrine INEE both at global level and in the field.  In this way, we can enhance our work in EiE while continually revisiting the role of INEE.

Do you have any concluding thoughts you wish to offer the INEE membership?

INEE is a joint project; it has been created jointly to support quality education in time of conflicts and disasters and it should be carried out and implemented jointly.  Lastly, I would like to appreciate the INEE Secretariat for all of their support and engagement.


Gabriel El Khili is the Education Program Specialist at UNESCO, located in Lebanon and represents UNESCO on the INEE Working Group on Minimum Standards. He graduated and trained in the Social Sciences, International Relations and Education. Since he joined UNESCO in 2008, Gabriel has worked on issues related to Education in development as well as in Emergencies and Post-Conflict, Post-Disaster (PCPD) situations. He has covered policies and planning, research, capacity development and advocacy, assisting UNESCO member states’ ministries of education in the most affected countries around the world. Before he joined UNESCO, Gabriel worked in several UN and non-UN organizations, mainly in Africa, the MENA region and Asia. He dealt with International Human Right, and humanitarian work, peacekeeping, Right to Education, Education and information management.  Gabriel currently leads UNESCO’s EiE program in Lebanon and in the MENA region where Right to Quality Education and INEE are key components.

The INEE Minimum Standards Team is currently conducting interviews to celebrate 10 years of the INEE Minimum Standards. If you are a practitioner in the field and wish to share how the INEE Minimum Standards have guided your work, please contact Katie Zanoni at [email protected].