EiE and Crisis-Sensitive Planning

(c) UNICEF 0439728

The world is currently facing a host of complex, often interconnected, crises. Conflicts, natural hazards, climate change, as well as pandemics and epidemics, have severe consequences on the economic and social development of affected countries. They can also have significant effects on education and so threaten the future of a generation of learners. Crucially, crises such as conflicts and natural disasters interrupt the education of millions of children and youth: it is estimated that currently, 72 million primary and secondary school-aged children in crisis-affected countries are out of school; another 127 million go to school, but do not reach the minimum proficiency level in reading or math.[i] Other effects of crises on education include the destruction or damaging of school infrastructure, a reduction in the number of teachers, diminished well-being among learners and teachers, and an increase in gender disparities and other forms of inequity.

One key tool to address the detrimental effects of crises on education is advance planning. In recent years, crisis-sensitive educational planning has therefore become a priority for education authorities in many crisis-affected countries. It serves to strengthen the resilience of learners, education personnel, and education systems, and ensure educational continuity. Crisis-sensitive educational planning supports the identification of risks that crises such as conflicts, natural hazards, and epidemics pose to education. It also helps to assess their potential impacts and determine how education systems can better prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from crisis, and so ultimately ensure educational continuity.[ii] At the same time, effective crisis-sensitive planning fosters the development of education policies and programmes that help prevent crises arising in the first place.

Crisis-sensitive educational planning entails the analysis of capacities and existing resources for risk reduction and emergency response in the education sector. It considers the capacities of teachers, school leaders and other education personnel, as well as education stakeholders at the national and sub-national levels. It also encompasses the identification and overcoming of patterns of inequity and exclusion in education, to reduce risks of conflict and violence. This last step is particularly important as conflict and violence, which often disproportionally affect the most vulnerable and marginalised populations, can themselves further exacerbate already existing disparities within the education system.

Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasised the need for more significant investments in prevention of and preparedness for all types of crises within the education sector.[iii] Crisis-sensitive planning, which has already been adopted by many governments and humanitarian and development partners, should therefore be promoted further and become a priority for education authorities in all countries. It is key to safeguarding education and learning of children and youth, ensuring educational continuity in times of crises. Furthermore, it will also help countries achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. *The members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies contributed their knowledge and expertise to this document. Contact us.

[i] ECW (2023). Crisis-Affected Children and Adolescents in Need of Education Support: New Global Estimates and Thematic Deep Dives.

[ii] See IIEP-UNESCO (2023). Crisis-sensitive educational planning.

[iii] IIEP-UNESCO (2023). Education4Resilience.

What We Know

Urgent Actions


* IIEP (2020). Effective leadership in crisis: What it takes for ministries of education.

Get the facts:

In addition to saving lives, crisis-sensitive planning is cost-beneficial and cost-effective. However, funding for it is currently still limited.

Millions of primary and secondary aged children remain out of school in crisis-affected countries.

Crisis-sensitive educational planning can help to ensure educational continuity during crises.

Investment in education generally, and crisis-sensitive educational planning in particular, remains low. Currently, education in emergencies only receives 3% of humanitarian aid.[ix] Crisis-sensitive educational planning only receives a negligible share of funds. More funding for education in emergencies and crisis-sensitive educational planning is therefore needed.

[i] UNDRR (2023). Our impact.

[ii] UNDRR (2022). Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022.

[iii] ECW (2023). Crisis-Affected Children and Adolescents in Need of Education Support: New Global Estimates and Thematic Deep Dives.

[iv] ECW (2023). Crisis-Affected Children and Adolescents in Need of Education Support: New Global Estimates and Thematic Deep Dives.

[v] See IIEP-UNESCO (2023). Crisis-sensitive educational planning.

[vi] World Bank (1999). Doing well out of war.

[vii] OECD (2020). Education Responses to Covid-19: Implementing a way forward

[viii] IIEP. Planipolis.

[ix] Educo (2023). EDUCO condemns the fact that aid for education in countries with humanitarian crises only covered 28.9% of needs in 2022.


Conflict: refers to armed conflicts or declared war as well as other insecurity events such as inter-community clashes.

Disaster: a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability, and capacity, and leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses, and impacts.

Hazard: a process, phenomenon or human activity that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation. If identified and addressed through good planning, a hazard may not lead to disaster or other harmful disruptions.

Conflict and disaster risk reduction (C/DRR): is defined as the concept and practice of reducing conflict and disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events. C/DRR includes prevention and mitigation measures as well as response activities.[i]

Preparedness: activities put in place to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from the impacts of hazards

Prevention: activities undertaken to avoid the adverse impact of disasters, including through physical risk reduction and environmental protection. This concept encompasses mitigation.

Resilience: can be defined as the ability of education systems and learners to withstand, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in ways that promote safety and social cohesion. Resilience is also the ability for the education system to continue functioning in crises, or to restart relatively quickly after an emergency.

[i] UNISDR (2009). UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction.

*The members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies contributed their knowledge and expertise to this document. Contact us.