Education is increasingly accepted as an integral part of humanitarian response in emergencies. It can help restore normalcy, safeguard the most vulnerable, provide psychosocial care, promote tolerance, unify divided communities and begin the process of reconstruction and peace building.
UNICEF supports education in all countries with natural disasters and civil conflict. Humanitarian response activities, including in education, are an essential part of UNICEF’s work because of its concern with children’s rights in all circumstances.
While education does not cause wars, nor can it end them, every education system has the potential either to exacerbate or to mitigate the conditions that contribute to violent conflict.
How can children-focused research enhance understanding of the role and impact of educational provision in conflict and post-conflict settings?
Armed conflict and natural disasters disrupt ways in which education is delivered and accessed. Disruptions may be traumatic but they provide opportunities.
There is an urgent need to improve understanding of education’s role in contributing to conflict. The Birmingham International Education Security Index is an attempt to generate qualitative and quantitative indicators to assess the contribution of education to human security/insecurity
Since the December 2001 Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan has adopted a new constitution, held democratic elections and established a national army. Education however has been treated as merely an ‘add on’ to the process of nation building.
Since independence, few African countries have been spared violence and armed conflict. Two West African research networks recently organised an international colloquium to assess the impact and develop linkages between education, peace and democracy.
After 14 years of on-off civil war, 150,000 deaths and the displacement of almost the entire population, Liberia’s education system lies in ruins. Donors must work with the recently-elected government to make education for all a reality.
UNHCR’s education challenges in South Sudan highlight the gap between relief and development.
The Government of Southern Sudan’s Go to School Initiative, supported by UNICEF, which seeks to get 1.6 million children back in school by the end of 2007, incorporates key elements of the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction.
Timor-Leste is a classic example of a post-conflict fragile state. Political will and popular enthusiasm rapidly restored a shattered education system but as donor interest wanes the new state cannot deliver services.
Development of a largely secular and modern education system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory over the past decade was mainly due to strong local leadership and external support.
Over the past five years USAID has learned lessons from critical education programmes in response to conflict and natural disasters in the Asia and Near East Region.
BEFARe – Basic Education For Afghan Refugees – administers the world’s largest and longest-running emergency education project for refugees.
In December 2004, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) launched the first global tool to define a minimum level of educational quality and help ensure the right to education for people affected by crises.
NGOs working in education in conflict-affected areas have realised the importance of listening to children, encouraging their genuine participation in programmes and publicising and scaling up the innovations which often arise in the aftermath of war.
I am a student at Comboni Secondary School in the south Sudan capital, Juba. I am a leader in the local chapter of the Girls’ Education Movement. GEM is a pan-African initiative to bring about positive change in the lives of girls.