Education in Emergencies & Disability Inclusion

Education in emergencies (EiE) can offer an opportunity to promote the rights of children and young people with disabilities in humanitarian contexts. A disability-inclusive education is a critical dimension of inclusion in EiE, not least because violence and disasters can cause physical and psychological injuries, leading to or aggravating disabilities among children and young people. Globally, children and young people with disabilities have been among the most excluded from all levels of education – a situation that is compounded during emergencies and protracted crises. These children and young people are more likely to have never attended school or to drop out, as well as to be illiterate at the age of 15 or older,1 compared to those without disabilities. Multiple complex barriers, including segregation, discrimination, financial barriers, stigma, lack of trained teachers, inadequate learning materials, and inaccessible facilities prevent them from fully participating in education.

Ensuring a disability-inclusive education in emergency contexts is key to preventing or stopping the exclusion of children and young people with disabilities from their right to quality education. Through an emphasis on equity in access and participation, disability-inclusive education can improve the learning experiences and outcomes of all children and young people. It fosters diversity, agency and understanding. It protects children and young people with disabilities from discrimination and violence, and it helps them develop the skills to actively participate in society.

Lilian Agesa, Project Officer (Inclusive Education), Voluntary Services Overseas

What We Know

Urgent Actions



Children and young people with disabilities face multiple compounded barriers to their right to education

Children and young people with disabilities are less likely to get an education

In emergency contexts, the number of children and adolescents with disabilities often increases, but education responses keep excluding them

Further Reading

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

  1. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) (2018). Disability and Development Report: Realizing the Sustainable Development Goals by, for and with persons with disabilities.
  2. UNICEF (2022). Seen, Counted, included: Using data to shed light on the well-being of children with disabilities
  3. ECW (2022.) Global Estimates: Number of crisis-affected children and adolescents in need of education support
  4. UNICEF (2022).
  5. UNESCO (2020). Global Monitoring Report 2020 – Inclusion and Education: All Means All
  6. UNESCO (2020).
  7. UNESCO (2020).
  8. UNESCO (2020).
  9. UNDESA (2018). Disability and Development Report
  10. UNICEF (2018a). Children with disabilities in situations of armed conflict: Discussion Paper.
  11. UNICEF (2018b). Guidance: Including children with disabilities in humanitarian action – Education.
  12. UNICEF (2018b).
  13. UNICEF (2018b).

Additional Sources