Education in Emergencies & Health Crises

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the biggest crisis for education systems in recorded history, worldwide. At the height of the pandemic, mandatory school closures due to COVID-19 affected 1.6 billion children1 and young people globally. For many of the 127 million school-aged children and young people already living in emergencies2, this meant not only losing access to learning, but often also access to food, protection, water and sanitation, and mental health and psychosocial support provided through schools.

Education is critical to protecting the wellbeing of all children and young people suffering from the pandemic, but the need is greatest in humanitarian settings. While use of remote-learning strategies has soared worldwide, these are often not accessible for the youngest children, girls, children with disabilities, ethnic and language minorities, and displaced children. Violence against children – including child marriage, child labour and association with armed groups – is more likely among children not attending school.

Although previous health emergencies such as Tuberculosis, Malaria, ZIKA, SARS, and HIV/AIDS impacted education systems, these emergencies have also shown that the sector can be an ally in the response. Coordination between the Education sector and Nutrition, as well as Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), enabled, for example, the provision of critical health and hygiene information, psychosocial support, vaccinations, water and food.

Despite its detrimental impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for innovation in education. It has accelerated, for example, the development of new education technologies and skills in learners and teachers. It has offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mobilise minds and resources to co-create the long-term transformations in education needed to safeguard the right to education of every child and young person, regardless of their context and status.

What We Know

Urgent Actions

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COVID-19’s impact on education can further disrupt progress for an entire generation

Potential effects on learning and beyond


Further Reading

*The members of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies contributed their knowledge and expertise to this document, which was developed in consultation with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Contact us

SOURCES
  1. The World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF (2021). The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery.
  2. INEE (2020). 20 years of INEE: Achievements and Challenges in Education in Emergencies
  3. The World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF (2021). The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery.
  4. UNICEF 2020. Covid-19: Are Children to Continue Learning During School Closures? A Global of the Potential Reach of Remote Learning Policies Data from 100 Countries 
  5. Borokowski, Arthur, Donald A.P. Bundy, Carmen Burbano, Shika Hayashi, Edward Lloyd-Evans, Jutta Neitzel, and Nicolas Reuge. 2021. COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The Impact of School Closures on Children’s Nutrition.
  6. Save the Children (2020). The Hidden Impact of COVID-19 on Child Protection and Wellbeing.
  7. World Vision (2020). Act Now: Experiences and recommendations of girls and boys on the impact of COVID-19
  8. The World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF (2021). The State of the Global Education Crisis
  9. Malala Fund (2020). Girls’ education and COVID-19: What past shocks can teach us about mitigating the impact of pandemics
  10. UNICEF (2021a). COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage
  11. UNICEF (2021b). Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward
Additional Sources