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

EiE Crisis Spotlight: Nepal Earthquake

***** This crisis profile is related to the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Visit the Nepal Crisis Profile for information about the ongoing conflict. *****  

Location of Crisis


Timing of Crisis

On 25 April 2015, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 77 kilometres (48 miles) northwest of Nepal's capital Kathmandu at 06:11 GMT, toppling office blocks and towers and killing hundreds of people. Strong aftershocks, including a 6.7 magnitude quake on 26 April, then continued to threaten the lives of thousands of people and to further damage buildings and infrastructure. On 12 May 2015, a new earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude struck Nepal at 12:50 local time. The epicentre was southeast of Kodari (Sindhupalchowk District), 76 km northeast of Kathmandu, an area already affected by the 25 April earthquake.

The Flash Appeal for the Response to the Nepal Earthquake April - July 2015 was launched on 29 April, calling for US$415 million to reach over 8 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in the next three months. The appeal has since been revised, now seeking $423 million to further scale up the ongoing relief efforts.  


Affected Populations/Brief Description of the Situation

A total of nearly 9,000 deaths were reported. On 12 May, just 17 days after the initial earthquake, the country experienced a powerful aftershock that claimed 100 lives and left about 1,900 injured.  Government reports confirm that 30 out of 75 districts in the country have been affected in the Western and Central Regions, including Kathmandu Valley districts. This includes mountain and hilly areas, in areas where rural populations are dispersed, as well as some very densely populated districts and Nepal’s two largest cities, greater Kathmandu and Pokhara. According to initial estimates, 8 million people are believed to have been affected, of which over 2 million people are estimated to live in the 11 most critically hit districts of Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Ramechhap. In the weeks following the earthquake, OCHA reported that 284,455 houses were destroyed and another 234,102 damaged, causing immense displacement. Initial estimates assumed that 2.8 million people were displaced.

UNICEF estimates 1.7 million children to be in urgent need of humanitarian aid in the areas worst-hit by the earthquake. Children are particularly vulnerable within this crisis, as limited access to safe water and sanitation will put children at great risk from waterborne diseases, while some children may have become separated from their families (UNICEF, 29 Apr 2015).

Altogether, both earthquakes claimed the lives of roughly 9,000 individuals and left about 22,200 injured.  



Impact on Education

Students sit in a destroyed classroom at Shree Kalika Secondary School, in Nuwakot District, 1 of 12 districts that have been severely affected by the massive earthquake. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1152/Panday
According to the Office of the Resident Coordinator Situational report No. 5, there are an estimated 3,353 schools in the severely affected districts, 2,903 schools in the most affected districts, and an additional 9,762 in the partially affected districts. As of 6 May, the Department of Education has reported that 14,541 classrooms were destroyed and 9,182 were damaged (UNOCHA, 6 May 2015). In the severely-affected districts of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot, UNICEF estimates that "more than 90 percent of schools have been destroyed, while around 80 percent of school buildings have collapsed in Dhading" and "in some areas, including Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, approximately nine in ten surviving school buildings have been used as emergency shelters (UNICEF, 7 May 2015)." With schools set to reopen 15 May, UNOCHA estimates that at least 950,000 children in Nepal will not be able to return to school unless urgent action is taken to assess schools in the affected districts and provide temporary learning spaces where schools are destroyed (UNOCHA, 11 May 2015). 

Within a crisis, affected children need to access safe places to play, receive psychosocial support and lifesaving messages. Going to school allows children to regain a vital sense of routine as well as minimizes the disruption to children’s education and protects them from exploitation and abuse. 

UNICEF states that there are also concerns that the "great strides made over the last 25 years in increasing primary school enrolment in Nepal – from 64 percent in 1990 to more than 95 percent today – could suffer a serious setback in the aftermath of the earthquake." They further state that Nepal's dropout rate was already a major concern with around 1.2 million Nepali children between the ages of five and 16 to have either never attended school or have dropped out and "UNICEF’s experience shows that children who are out of school for extended periods, including during emergencies, become less and less likely to ever return to the classroom (UNICEF, 7 May 2015)."

Following the devastation of both earthquakes, Nepal rebuilt 1600 schools by April 2017 through a collaboration between the Nepalese government and various international non-governmental organizations. Organizations have been helpful in re-opening temporary learning spaces and diversifying the skills of teachers, in terms of disaster preparedness.  


Education Actors Responding to the Crisis 

  • Asia Onlus
  • National Campaign for Education Nepal
  • Partnership Nepal
  • Plan International
  • Planete Enfants
  • Save the Children
  • Voluntary Service Overseas
  • We World Onlus
  • World Education
  • World Vision International
  • Salesian Missions
  • ​Street Child

Needs and Challenges

Three young boys in a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space look out in Bilaune Danda Village in Dhading District, 1 of 12 districts that have been severely affected by the massive earthquake. © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1199/
There is a desperate need to get children back to school as soon as possible, which will include working to set up child friendly spaces and temporary learning spaces, repairing buildings and encouraging parents to send their children back to school. The Flash Appeal for the Response to the Nepal Earthquake April calls for $20 million in order to reach 1.5 million school aged children. This number has since been revised to $21,444,633, with only 1.3% being funded, as of 12 May 2015 (FTS Nepal Earthquake, 12 May 2015).   

The Education Cluster was activated in Nepal on April 26th in response to the first earthquake. According to the Flash Appeal for the Response to the Nepal Earthquake April, the Education Cluster will coordinate across sectors to provide early childhood development (ECD) and access to protective learning spaces, including psychosocial support and life-saving messages, for school-aged children (3- 18 years of age) in 21 districts. Learning material, including ECD kits, ‘school in the box’ and recreation kits will be provided and teachers will also be oriented on psychosocial support and life-saving messages. As of 11 May 2015, the Education and Protection clusters have established 45 Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) for displaced communities in the Kathmandu Valley, serving over 4,500 earthquake affected children. Art activities, games, sports, and psychosocial support and key life-saving messages relating to WASH, Nutrition, Health, and Child Protection are also currently being provided through these CFSs (UNOCHA, 6 May 2015). 1,100 teachers have been oriented on back-to-school messages, psychosocial first aid for children in nine districts and over 200 volunteer facilitators have been trained to support the CFSs. 

On 7 May the ECU organised a global partner call with the Nepal Education Cluster staff on the Nepal education response, to provide an update on the situation and on support needs. The call also gave global members an opportunity to provide updates on their own agency's response and plans in Nepal.  The minutes from this call are located here.



In the years after the initial earthquake, Nepal’s government played a larger role in expanding the education sector and providing more quality education. Nepal’s School Sector Reform Plan, which spanned the years 2009 to 2016, saw the primary net enrollment rate for grades 1-8 increase from 73% in 2009 to 89% in 2016. Furthermore, over 90% of educators within the schools benefited from professional development courses and training (Source:

The plan’s initial success resulted in the “Nepal School Sector Development Plan” for the years 2016-2023. The multi-layered initiative fostered basic education by “develop[ing] physical, socio-emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and moral potential for all 4-12 year old children by ensuring school readiness and universal access to quality basic education and to promote life skills and value-based education”.

The plan will also diversify and professionalize secondary school institutions through technical and general secondary education opportunities. As a disaster preparedness strategy, the plan also calls for the mainstreaming of school safety regarding natural disasters and aims to develop greater resilience and disaster management techniques in the event of another disaster. Through this framework, the government will foster educational development, while also providing resources that will allow students and teachers to be more equipped to handle unforeseen catastrophes.

Though investments towards Nepal’s education sector have traditionally been low, in January 2018 the World Bank agreed to invest a portion of a $440 million agreement to Kathmandu for greater vocational and educational training. The collaboration between the Government of Nepal and the World Bank is a 3-part agreement plan that will direct funding towards an Earthquake Reconstruction Project, a Livestock Sector Innovation Project, and an Enhanced Vocational Education and Training Project. With a $60 million credit, the Enhanced Vocational Education and Training Project will build on the work of its original phase, which tackled issues of pre-employment preparation and training deficiencies. To combat the negative consequences of natural disasters on educational stability, the second phase of the project will widen its scope to include more youths and create an environment that offers diverse and challenging training programs.

At the Global Partnership for Education conference in February 2018, the Government of Nepal vocalized its ongoing commitment to youth education by planning to allocate 20% of its total national budgets to the public education sector. Previously, only about 11% of the total national budget was provided to the education sector.


Tools and Resources

The following key INEE resource in English and Nepali can be used to support EiE efforts in Nepal. 

  • INEE Minimum Standards Handbook (English 2010 editionNepali 2004 edition)
  • Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education (English)
  • Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning (English)
  • Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation (English)
  • Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction (English)
  • Pocket Guide to Gender (English)
  • Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education (English
  • Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities (English)
  • Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies (English)
  • Reference Guide on External Education Financing (English)
  • To access other EiE tools and resources in over 20 languages, please visit the INEE Toolkit.

The following additional resources can also be used to support EiE efforts in nepal.

  • IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (English and Nepali)
  • Nepal Earthquakes 2015: Desk Review of Existing Information with Relevance to Mental Health & Psychosocial Support (English)
  • Nepal Education Cluster Contingency Plan: Jan 2015 (English)
  • Key Messages for Child Friendly Space Facilitators and Teachers (English and Nepali)

Key Information Sources


Key Words

Nepal, earthquake, education sector


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