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Capacity statement: Education in emergencies


Capacity statement: Education in emergencies

Education in emergencies is a priority sector for Plan International’s disaster risk management work. This publication explains how we support girls and boys from preparedness to response, recovery and resilience building in conflict and natural hazard situations. 

Infographic from the education in emergencies capacity statement

Executive Summary

Our approach to education in emergencies

Comprehensive interventions 

We support education before, during and after disasters, through preparedness, emergency response and recovery programming. 

Working with communities and children

From the initial assessment to design and monitoring of programmes, we actively engage and consult communities and children, wherever appropriate. They help ensure the response is culturally relevant and meets the needs of children. 

Integrated programming

Educational spaces and programmes provide an ideal opportunity to provide protection and psychosocial support for children. Programmes are also linked closely with water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition interventions. 

Creative solutions

Plan International strives to solve problems in emergencies through innovative approaches. These include mobile multi-sectoral teams going to the hardest to reach areas, using mobile phones to send key messages about education to parents, or using cash transfers to encourage children’s access to learning.

Build on existing education work

Our emergency programmes build on our existing education work in a country. If Plan International is new to a country, we look at the existing local approaches to ensure our support is culturally relevant. Education in emergency programmes can be the starting point for long-term education support. 

Working with government

Governments are responsible for ensuring children’s right to education. We work in close collaboration with ministries of education to ensure children in emergencies can access high quality and relevant education. We support ministries through capacity building and deploying technical staff.


Our education in emergencies interventions

Improving access to education

  • Establishment of temporary learning spaces to restart formal primary and secondary schooling.
  • Provision of teaching and learning materials (including adapting materials to local contexts).
  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed classrooms.
  • Non-formal education such as accelerated learning, bridge and summer programmes, peer to peer learning circles, mobile learning for the most marginalised children (including adolescent girls, overage, out-of-school, dropout children and pre-school children).  
  • Early childhood care and development (ECCD) including pre-school education for children 3-6 years; early learning and stimulation for 0-2 years; support in transitioning to primary school for 6-8 years; parenting education. Plan International often links ECCD to educational support for adolescent mothers so two generations can access learning at the same time.
  • Targeted outreach to find and support the most vulnerable and marginalised groups: girls, children with disabilities, and ethnic and religious minorities. 
  • Advocacy and awareness raising at the local, national and global levels for education in emergencies (including Back to School campaigns at the country level).

Increasing quality of education 

  • Strengthen capacity – training of teachers and other education personnel (including ministry of education staff), school management committees, parent teacher associations, local partners and parents to ensure long term sustainability.
  • Integrate a gender and inclusion lens into all education programmes so they particularly meet the needs of girls and children with disabilities in helping them obtain their right to education.

I have lived long enough to see a generation of children, armed with education, lift up a nation. (Ms. Graça Machel, Mozambican politician and former first lady of South Africa)

Disaster and conflict risk reduction

  • Safe schools – activating communities and children to protect schools from natural hazards and conflict through the development of school safety plans, working with government on policy and curricula changes and making school buildings safe from natural hazards and conflict.
  • Integrate ways to promote peace, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in curricula and other activities.

Integration with other programme areas

  • Psychosocial support for students through teachers, and for teachers and parents.
  • Referral to child protection and health support – prepare teachers to identify children who are unaccompanied or separated, with high levels of psychosocial distress, and other child protection issues along with health issues so they can be referred to the appropriate child protection or health actor.
  • Constructing latrines and water points at schools and near temporary learning spaces (ensuring they are gender- and disability-friendly).
  • School feeding – where the lack of food is a major deterrent to children attending school.

Human Resources Capacity

Plan International has a global education in emergencies specialist and over a dozen deployable education in emergency specialists through an internal roster. Additionally, there are more than 25 education in emergency specialists on our external roster. Plan International has an online e-learning training based on the Education Cluster’s education in emergencies face-to-face training and a practical, simulation based face-to-face education in emergencies training. Hundreds of Plan International staff and partners have gone through the e-learning and face-to-face trainings.

Key partnerships

  • Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
  • Education Cluster
  • Education Cannot Wait (global EiE fund)
  • Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack 
  • UNHCR-led Accelerated Education working group
  • Global Consultative Group on ECCD
  • Asia Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC)
  • Children in a Changing Climate Coalition
  • Global Alliance for DRR and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES)

Case study: Support for Malian refugees in Niger

Children in classroom in Niger

During the crisis in Mali, thousands of children left the country, crossing into Niger. Plan International worked in UNHCR refugee camps to provide formal primary and secondary education through temporary learning spaces, accelerated learning and bridging programmes for overage, out-of-school and dropout children. There was a focus on reaching the most marginalised, including adolescent girls, pastoral communities and religious/ethnic minorities – many of whom accessed educational opportunities for the first time. 

Accelerated learning programmes have been critical for adolescent girls, many of whom have never been to school or dropped out very early on. Adolescent mothers and their small children have been supported by offering accelerated learning for the adolescent mothers, parenting education and ECCD support for their children. This has allowed Plan International to support 2 generations of children at once. 

  • Capacity statement