ACEI Challenge 2017
Supporting Children’s Education During Emergencies and Crisis

Message from the Executive Director

During times of crisis, children are extremely vulnerable and at risk. They need the protection of adults and need to know that although they may be surrounded by disruption and chaos, calm and continuity can be restored to their daily lives. Establishing schools and finding ways to help children continue their learning can be a critical element of shoring up stability and social cohesion during times of crisis.

On this page, we offer suggestions about direct ways you can volunteer your time to help children when they are faced with emergencies and crisis in their communities. We have also offered suggestions that help you to become better versed in helping children during emergencies. This is also information you can share with others. These suggestions will help everyone, no matter where you live or the capacity you have to volunteer, to be involved in this critical issue.

We want to hear from you.

As you work to support children in emergencies and crisis, we want to hear about your experiences. Please send your reflections, thoughts, or stories to

In support of children’s education,
Diane Whitehead, ACEI Executive Director


Children’s Education During Emergency and Crisis

Our message today is not that children need education even in emergencies, it’s that children need education especially in emergencies.
—Queen Rania of Jordan at the 2013 Education Cannot Wait event.

Education is a human right and should be guaranteed and protected for all children at all times. However, the right to education is at risk during crisis and emergencies. Emergencies lead to an increased likelihood that the right to education will be disregarded and violated.

Emergencies and crisis can strike any part of the world at any time. No nation is immune from experiencing a humanitarian disaster, which can come in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, wars, and protracted conflicts.

Emergencies are not always single time-bound crisis events, but can play out in ways that extend and deepen over time. Prolonged social and economic stresses can also result in the creation of emergency and crisis situations. When social supports in communities break down, the poor, the elderly, children, and those with disabilities are disproportionately affected. Children may be subject to extended periods of homelessness, hunger, illness, and poverty, which affects their ability to attend school and to learn.

While these “silent emergencies” may be less visible than more typical crisis situations, such as wars and earthquakes, they can be just as damaging to the lives of children. “Silent emergencies” left unaddressed can also have incredibly destabilizing effects on communities at large. All crisis situations are disrupting to children’s education, delaying or preventing their access to school and their ability to learn.

To ensure continuity in children’s education, education must be a principal part of any humanitarian response. Education can save and sustain lives, offering physical, cognitive, and psychosocial protection when delivered in safe, neutral spaces. Education restores routine to children’s lives and gives them hope for the future. Schools can also serve as a channel both for meeting other basic humanitarian needs and communicating vital messages to children and parents that promote children’s safety and well-being.


10 things you can do to support education in emergencies & crisis in your community and beyond

  1. KNOW the work of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), read the INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery. This is the only global tool that articulates the minimum level of educational quality and access that should be in place from the emergency through to recovery. 
  2. JOIN your local emergency planning team or a committee working for the rights of children. Ensure that the needs of children are considered. Ensure that in a longer term crisis and extended emergencies there is a plan to construct safe spaces for children that include opportunities to learn.
  3. DONATE much needed financial support to organizations that are working in the areas of children’s education in emergencies and crisis.
  4. DELIVER books and school supplies to children. Some international organizations, such as the International Rescue Committee, send supplies and teddy bears to children in emergency situations, but you should also look to local organizations that are providing educational supplies and comfort to children in crisis in your community.
  5. SEEK and share resources and toolkits with others who are involved in helping children in emergencies. Save the Children has a toolkit, which can be found at This kit covers the process of emergency education, from planning and setting up a program, to running it on a day-to-day basis and preparing for future emergencies.
  6. VOLUNTEER to help during an emergency or crisis. Many NGOs need volunteers during times of disaster. Individuals who have expertise in working with children in crisis and in education can be extremely valuable to crisis support teams.
  7. PRESENT a forum on Education in Emergencies to colleagues or friends. Individuals need to understand the extremely negative impact and sometimes lasting damage that living through an emergency or crisis situation can have on children and their ability to learn and develop.
  8. CREATE a welcome committee for refugee families who are settling in your community. Many of these children have experienced crisis and disaster. Their families need support and assistance as they settle in a new country.
  9. SUPPORT children in crisis who live in your community. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a local community organization that helps children in crisis.
  10. LEARN the facts and statics that are relevant to a crisis situation and about international laws that support the protection of education in times of insecurity and conflict and provides the basis for holding to account those who fail to do so. Share this information with others. This resource has been compiled by Education Above All: