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

Education in Emergencies Planning

What is Education Planning?

Education sector planning is a technical, political, and participatory process which should be led by government, typically the Ministry of Education (MoE). The first step of the process is to conduct an education sector analysis (ESA) in order to highlight the main challenges and opportunities for the education sector.

Following the ESA, an education sector plan (ESP) is developed. An ESP usually covers a 5-year timeframe and contains medium or long-term objectives and desired outcomes for educational sub-sectors. The ESP also describes the strategies and activities that will be used to reach these objectives. Projection and simulation models are then used to determine the costs of the human and material resources needed to implement the plan and finance the activities.



In crisis situations, if long-term planning and implementation are compromised, national or regional authorities can develop a Transitional Education Plan (TEP), of 3 years duration. A TEP is often used to structure the priorities to maintain the same progress achieved prior to the crisis and might include anticipating the future needs of a specific community (e.g. internally displaced persons or refugees). A TEP maintains the long-term vision of the education sector, and focuses on the immediate issues in achieving these long-term goals.


What is Crisis-sensitive Education Planning?

With the global increase in the number of humanitarian crises including violent conflict, drought, food insecurity, flooding, and others, millions of children and youth have been displaced.

These phenomena have also led to an increasing need of education partners to include strategies for refugees and IDPs in sector planning process. In September 2016, 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. This Declaration calls for a more predictable and more comprehensive response to these crises, known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, or CRRF.

Crisis-sensitive educational planning involves identifying and analysing existing risks of humanitarian crises and addressing the forced displacement that may result. This entails identifying both conflict and natural hazards and understanding the two-way interaction between these risks and education to develop strategies that respond appropriately. Crisis-sensitive planning aims to contribute to minimizing the negative impacts of risk on education service delivery and to maximize the positive impacts of education policies and programming on preventing conflict and disaster or mitigating their effects. It also requires identifying and overcoming patterns of inequity and exclusion in education, including for forcibly displaced populations.

In order to prevent hazards from becoming disasters, planners must analyse the risks to education. These risks can be reduced when communities have capacities to withstand the hazard, the ability to reduce physical, social, and environmental vulnerabilities, and sufficient response capacity. In addition, crisis-sensitive educational planning can enable countries to better manage their education system before, during, and after crises, thereby ensuring that investments and, most importantly, children’s rights to education and safety are protected.


Key messages

Good educational planning anticipates and analyses risks, which prevents or reduces the impact of conflict or disaster.  Conflict and disaster risk reduction can be mainstreamed at the level of the education system by:

  • Reinforcing or upgrading physical infrastructure for more resistance and resilience
  • Ensuring ministry personnel’s capacities and the integration of C/DRR in educational policy, planning and implementation processes
  • Protecting educational information, ensuring backup of education data
  • Ensuring teacher support and management in case of a crisis
  • Ensuring that the language and content of the curriculum, textbooks and teacher training programmes promote peacebuilding, human rights and citizenship

Education planners can mainstream conflict and disaster risk reduction in education institutions by:

  • Developing the capacity of staff and students to anticipate and be better prepared to respond to crisis
  • Ensuring that the school management personnel has been trained in emergency response procedures
  • Ensuring that teaching methods promote peacebuilding and tolerance
  • Ensuring that safety policies are implemented and regularly updated
  • Ensuring education institutions are located so as to enable equitable access


Key Activities

Who is involved in crisis-sensitive education sector planning?

As a national policy instrument, ESPs or TEPs are first and foremost the responsibility of national governments. MoEs have to make the final decision and take the responsibility for committing resources and for its implementation. ESPs and TEPs are most likely to succeed if they are the result of a process led by the government and internalized by all national stakeholders. The planning process should be a participatory process that includes selected ministries (especially the ministry of finance), stakeholders in the education sector and civil society, non-governmental education providers, and international partners. In order to ensure that the process is crisis-sensitive, it is also important to involve actors such as the Education Cluster, UNHCR, and other stakeholders that support the provision of education in emergencies. The involvement of these actors can be through consultations during the plan preparation process and through structured discussions on drafts of the plan document.

UNESCO - International Institute for Education Planning

UNESCO-IIEP supports crisis-sensitive planning processes and in doing so, helps to ensure coherence between humanitarian and development worlds. Despite the differences in mandates, funding streams, planning cycles, coordination structures, and perhaps organizational cultures, humanitarian and development actors can cooperate to provide a coherent response. This is especially the case in the increasing number of protracted crises and mixed situations with a combination of for example: armed conflict and disaster; refugees and IDPs; aid agencies and government. Humanitarian and development planning processes must be aligned to develop sustainable and self-reliant systems that are able to mitigate the impacts of crises. (Read more about UNESCO-IIEP’s activities in this domain.)

Guide to Developing Education Cluster Strategies

Humanitarian actors including the Global Education Cluster and UNHCR are increasingly engaging with educational planning processes. The recently released Guide to Developing Education Cluster Strategies shows, from a humanitarian coordination perspective, how an Education Cluster Strategy helps ensure alignment and continuity of education across the humanitarian-development continuum. This includes alignment between the Education Cluster strategy, and (1) (intersectoral) Humanitarian Response Plans, (2) government/MoE emergency plans, and (3) ESPs and TEPs. Likewise, one of the key pillars of UNHCR’s work through the CRRF is to ensure the inclusion of refugees and IDPs in education sector plans.  

Grand Bargain and New Way of Working Initiatives

Aligning the humanitarian and development work in the education sector through crisis-sensitive planning supports the World Humanitarian Summit’s call for reform in humanitarian aid architecture. Initiatives such as the Grand Bargain and the New Way of Working are encouraging governments if possible, to take the lead in coordination efforts in order to reduce risk, vulnerability and overall levels of need.

Key Resources


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