EiE and Crisis-Sensitive Planning

(c) UNICEF 0439728

The crises facing our world are complex and ever-evolving. Conflicts, natural hazards, climate change, as well as pandemics and epidemics can have severe consequences on the economic and social development of affected countries and threaten the future of a generation of learners. Effects on education include the destruction of school infrastructure, the use of schools as temporary shelters, a reduction in the number of teachers, diminished wellbeing among teachers and learners, an increase in gender disparities and other forms of inequity, and overall system dysfunction. Furthermore, more and more countries, particularly in protracted crises, are faced with multiple risks at once. Additionally, it is estimated that 128 million primary and secondary aged children are out of school in crisis-affected countries.[i] The detrimental effects of crises on education systems and school-aged children cannot be underestimated and planning for education in crises context is therefore key to ensure educational continuity and strengthen the resilience of education systems, education personnel and learners.  

In recent years, crisis-sensitive educational planning has become a priority for education authorities in many countries affected by crises. Crisis-sensitive educational planning involves identifying and analysing the risks to education posed by conflicts, natural hazards, climate change and epidemics among others.[ii] This means understanding how these risks impact education systems in order to ensure that education systems can better prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from crises, and ultimately ensure educational continuity. The aim is to lessen the negative impact of risks on education service delivery while at the same time fostering the development of education policies and programmes that will help prevent future crises arising in the first place.

Crisis-sensitive educational planning also entails analysing capacities and existing resources for risk reduction and the emergency response in the education sector, including the capacities of teachers, school leaders and other education personnel, as well as educations stakeholders at the central and sub-national levels. To reduce risks of conflict and violence, crisis-sensitive educational planning also requires identifying and overcoming patterns of inequity and exclusion in education. This is particularly important as these risks may have longer-term consequences on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, exacerbating already-existing disparities within the education system. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for more significant investments in prevention of and preparedness for all types of crises within the education sector.[iii] The challenge today is to avoid what the World Health Organization has termed, a cycle of “panic-then-forget” once a crisis is under control.[iv] Adopting crisis-sensitive planning and risk reduction strategies has therefore been recognised by  governments and humanitarian and development partners as a key element in safeguarding education and learning of children and youth in times of crisis. This will also help countries attain Goal 4 of the SDGs to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

What We Know

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Get the facts:

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

Access to quality education for displaced children remains limited

Crises disproportionately affect girls and women, denying their right to education

Crisis-sensitive planning can protect investments and ensure continuity in education


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

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, 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.[v]

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.

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


[i] GPE. Education in Crisis Situations.

[ii] IIEP. Crisis-sensitive educational planning.

[iii] IIEP (2022) COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response

[iv] IIEP (2022) Leadership: Strong Ministries of Education at the Heart of resilience

[v] UNISDR (2009) UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction

[vi] Plan International (2019) Let Out, Left Behind: Adolescent girls’ secondary education in crises.

[vii] UNESCO (2015) Global Education Monitoring Report

[viii] ECW. Facts

[ix] UNHCR. Refugee Data Finder

[x] UNHCR. Refugee Data Finder

[xi] UNHCR. Refugee Data Finder

[xii] UNHCR (2021) Mid-Year Trends 2021

[xiii] UNHCR (2021) Staying the Course: The challenges facing refugee education

[xiv] World Bank. Girls’ Education

[xv] World Bank. Girls’ Education

[xvi] World Bank. Girls’ Education

[xvii] ODI, UNDP (2015) Finance for reducing disaster risk.

[xviii] UNDRR. Funding

[xix] IIEP. Planipolis.

[xx] World Bank. (1999) Doing well out of war (Paul Collier)

[xxi] GPE (2020) Supporting countries affected by fragility and conflict.

[xxii] GPE (2020) Supporting countries affected by fragility and conflict.

[xxiii] IIEP (2020) Effective leadership in crisis: What it takes for ministries of education