Instructional Strategies and Engaging Pedagogies

1 Education in Emergencies

Education for children in crisis

Mursal Amanzai and Fatima Qasemi


Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter, the readers will be able to understand:

  • Definition/background and aims of education in emergencies.
  • The value and importance of education in emergencies.
  • Implementation of Education in emergencies.
  • Strategies, subjects, and equipment needed for education in emergencies.





More than 500 million of the world’s 1.2 billion school-age children live in countries where there are humanitarian crises including wars, natural disasters, and disease outbreaks. Approximately 75 million children are already falling behind in their education, are receiving insufficient instruction, or are in danger of quitting school completely. They run the risk of being forced into child labor, child marriage, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups in the absence of safe venues to learn. Between 2013 and 2017, there were over 12,700 attacks against schools, which resulted in injuries to over 21,000 students and staff across at least 70 countries. (Their World, December 27, 2018).

Education is typically the first service to be interrupted after a conflict or natural disaster and the last to be restored. Governments are frequently overburdened by the needs, and traditional relief assistance prioritizes the basic needs of the population (food, water, shelter, and protection), with just 2 to 4 percent of funds going toward education. There is an $8.5 billion annual budget shortfall for education in times of need. (Education cannot wait)

Higher education is sometimes viewed as a luxury in times of Crisis, while being one of the areas of humanitarian help that receives the least funding. In contrast to the global average of 34%, barely 1% of the more than 65 million individuals who have been displaced by war and strife in the world now attend university. However, in areas of war, where it is essential for establishing new civilizations and preserving stability, the demand for higher education is particularly essential. Higher education is closely associated with more opportunities, stronger economic growth, better public health, and safer neighborhoods. It provides young people with inspiration and a way to build self-sufficient futures.

No child is spared in wars, epidemics, or natural disasters. Today, more countries than at any time in the past thirty years are involved in conflict. Many of these problems last throughout an entire childhood. Children in emergency countries lose their loved ones and their homes. They are deprived of access to food, medicine, and clean water. They lose routine and safety. And they are at risk of losing their futures if they lack access to education. Besides food and shelter which are the first priority, education too is an important factor of their lives in crisis. Children must continue their education despite the challenges and conflicts that that might face, since education is the only path of a better and brighter future. In other words, Education in emergencies can be defined as a set of linked project activities that enable structured learning to continue in times of acute crisis or long-term instability.


Despite the huge benefits education provides for children, societies, and entire nations, it is frequently the first service to be interrupted during a crisis and the last to be restored. Humanitarian help goes to the education sector at a rate of less than 3% on average. The lack of funding is not the only issue. The lack of teachers and personnel makes it difficult for educational institutions to satisfy the diverse requirements of children in emergency situations. Data gaps make it difficult for decision-makers to assess the situation and take appropriate action. Additionally, coordination issues prevent humanitarian teams from responding as effectively as they should. Education in emergencies can provide children with learning environments that are secure, child-friendly, and furnished with amenities like water and restrooms to help them learn how to deal with the trauma of crises and this comes under the psycho-social support.

Education itself can be defined as a learning process that starts at birth and occurs as much in the home and community as it does in the school. This means that initiatives to assist education are varied and may concentrate on igniting change wherever children learn within a particular neighborhood.  An emergency is characterized as a crisis scenario that is more severe than what a society can manage on its own. Acute or chronic emergencies with causes ranging from armed conflict and political instability to a natural disaster may need the implementation of an emergency response. Education activities in emergencies vary greatly according to the nature of the crisis.
and the cultural context of the country.

Education for children in desperate circumstances involves more than just the right to learn. Schools protect children from the physical dangers they face, such as abuse, exploitation, and being recruited by armed groups. They give children access to food, water, medical treatment, and hygiene products that can save their lives. Additionally, they provide children with stability and routine as psychosocial support, enabling them to better deal with the trauma they encounter on a daily basis. Education is frequently mentioned as a high priority by parents and children who have been impacted by a crisis. The education of children benefits entire communities.


Responding to Refugees’ Basic Needs

  1. Health, Nutrition and Hygiene
  2. Medium of Language
  3. Student-Centered classrooms
  4. Conflict resolution approaches

Versatile Curriculum

  • Language:¬†Teaching the children the language of the host country to help them understand their environment better.
  • Science subjects:¬†Basic science subjects for the primary level students to familiarize them with their future formal school subjects.
  • Social studies:¬†Social studies can cover general topics.
  • Using ICT:¬†Since technology is a life-saving tool it is crucial for students to learn the use of technology as part of their studies and as well as for their surroundings.
  • Health Ed:¬†Health education is a very important subject for children, they need to learn about their health, preventions, precautions, and sanitarian studies.
  • DRR:¬†Disaster Risk Reduction is perhaps the most crucial subject to be taught in crisis, (DRR) aims to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks and to contribute to strengthening resilience and this helps the children cope with the situation.
  • In below link you could find Schedule for mentioned subjects.!Av_QHMeUWo3vhHl5T1eL9o4YL6H-?e=MLUMaX 

Psychosocial Support

  1. Socio-emotional support:¬†At times of crisis or emergencies, the vulnerable people especially children need socio-emotional support throughout their journey. Children’s go through traumas caused by the emergencies; hence, their mental health must be taken good care of.
  2. Physical activities: Besides the mental health comes the physical health which should be a top priority as well, physical activities not only keep them in shape but will help their brains produce the endorphins that helps them stay happy.
  3. Arts and Innovation: Art and innovation is another happiness therapy for children in crisis, this activity helps them be creative and busy. Playing with colors is a very useful and unique way of therapy for children experiencing trauma.


We prepared a short and general overview for the chapter ‘Education in Emergencies’ and this is the infographic:



                                                          Education in emergencies

Education is a fundamental human right that all children, especially those who are affected by natural disasters or other man-made situations, must have access to. This raises the issue of how to educate kids who are living in such challenging conditions. After food and shelter education is one of the most essential part of children in crisis, since education is the only right path that helps these children have a secure future, live a normal life, and bring a significant change not only in their personal life but in their community too. Education in any country can also serve as a saving mechanism for contributing to the prevention of emergencies.

Education is deemed to be an unalienable right by several conventions, including the Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also an enabling right because it makes it easier for both adults and children to exercise their other rights. Regardless of the situation a child finds themselves in, they all have the right to it. The same “core” of abilities, information, competencies, values, and attitudes that make up a basic education and to which the world agreed in 1990 at the Jomtien conference on Education for All must be available to children in emergency situations (pigozzy, 1999)

Please refer to the following videos about education in emergencies:



types of emergencies:

  • Natural¬†

Severe Weather (Tornadoes, Thunderstorms, Hail):

Tornadoes are a risk that could cause significant losses of life and property, especially when combined with very vulnerable populations gathered at big events like college football and baseball games. Severe thunderstorms are also significant concerns because they are the most probable natural cause of emergencies or disasters for the University. Designated in-place building shelters have been identified in the event of an emergency.


  • Technological¬†

Hazardous Materials Accidents:

Fuel and chemical spills are the most widespread materials likely to create accidents. Chemicals used in laboratories, water treatment and at the Wade Utility Plant are also sources of possible hazardous incidents. There is a central hazardous materials waste facility for the temporary storage of these materials until they can be safely transported off-campus.

Chemical/Biological/Radiological (CBR) Emergencies:

When properly stored and handled, CBR materials pose no extreme threat. They are commonly present in academic buildings housing scientific experiments and research. However, during times of natural or human-caused disasters, these materials become a special hazard to the campus and to emergency personnel.

Aircraft Crashes:

Small private planes and charter aircraft are common in the air space over the Greater Lafayette area due to the location of the Purdue University Airport. Crashes may occasionally occur.


  • Human-caused

National Emergency (War, Terrorism):

A state of emergency resulting from a danger or threat of danger to a nation from foreign or domestic sources and usually declared to be in existence by governmental authority.

Civil Disorder:

Planned or unplanned demonstrations may become large and uncontrollable. In some cases, participants could become violent.

Active Shooter:

An active shooter would place the campus community at risk by either targeting specific individuals or mass groups.

Andrew Swindell is a PhD candidate in international and comparative education at UCLA. He currently works as an instructor for the global and international studies departments at UCLA and as an editorial assistant for the Global Commons Review. His research interests include how to achieve quality education for all people in emergency settings, global citizenship education, and how international migration and globalization impact education globally. and for one semester he was teaching subject under title of Globalization and Education for master students at Asian University for Women (AUW) in 2022 he worked in many countries as an instructor and researcher.

Podcast interview through zoom meeting with Sir Andrew Swindell Three questions were answered by him.

1.     Do you think education is the first priority for children in crisis?

  1. podcast.Q.A-1

2.     What is the basic equipment to establish education for children in crisis?

3.     How do you think we can ensure a positive outcome of the provided education for those children?

  • Implementation of Education in emergencies

Education is a life-saving tool for children who are in crisis, education can save them from abuse and war traumas that they may experience, thus, education or particularly primary education for primary and secondary children is very crucial. A non-formal program could help the children cope with the situation and continue their formal education later in life. Implementation of such education in emergencies may need a lot of equipment, determined teachers, and a strong curriculum, however, it is possible through training programs for the teachers and financial support. Millions of children are being denied an education worldwide. This ought to cause outrage among individuals. There is, however, also cause for optimism. We can increase access to education for students in emergency and crisis situations by using creative techniques, which increasingly demand adjusting to changing technologies. These innovative methods foster safer conditions for all parties involved as well as new chances for learning. But that raises the issue of what access actually looks like in the world today. Is the environment a typical school setting with playgrounds and classrooms filled with books? In the context of high-risk environments, are those conditions ideal? Nearly 10,000 attacks on educational institutions occurred between 2009 and 2013 in more than 70 different nations (BBC). Children of primary school can return to school and continue their education after numerous natural disasters and when tense situations pass. But as crises have dragged on, it has taken longer and longer for refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) to resume some sort of normal life. The average length of displacement nowadays is 17 years, which is longer than the whole time spent in primary and secondary school. Today’s conflicts and natural disasters are real obstacles to education. Even those children who are able to attend school encounter challenges due to overcrowding in the classes, language problems in the host nations’ curricula, and frequently inexperienced, underqualified, and overworked instructors hired to handle the increasing demand. Innovative methods are crucial in these situations to ensure that kids and teenagers keep learning even when faced with emergencies. Particularly in situations where it is no longer safe for kids to travel to school, we need to make sure the access we want to offer is relevant to changing requirements. As with other interventions, the more successfully we innovate in one context, the more likely it is that these innovations will be adapted and applied to other conflicts and disasters.

Providing access to education is a moral and legal requirement for nations that take in refugees (Convention on the rights of the Child, Section 22). The lack of access that we observe might be less a result of a lack of will than an inability to satisfy rising demand. In the past, access meant having access to a physical learning environment. This has frequently involved developing new infrastructure or making informal learning facilities during calamities. Is this the only method to provide access to education, we must wonder?

Accessing physical learning places can be risky due to the targeting of schools, the destruction of roads, and the risk of mobility in conflict-affected areas. As a result, taking alternatives into account has become even more crucial.

   Here is a short video on education for disaster preparedness:


Implementing education in emergencies can always be challenging due to the lack of facilities, however, it is possible is we have a strong team with determination and will to help the children in crisis get the right education they deserve. The following strategies can be followed to implement education for children in crisis:

  1. Financial Aid: The first and foremost important step in implementation of education is financial aid or financial support. To provide and prepare the environment for a teaching context and have all the resources needed for the project ready. Besides the resource or study materials we need teachers and training for those children.
  2. Teachers and Trainers: When we prepare the environment for a learning context, we need to hire professional teacher or held trainings for the teachers to better assist the children and look out for any need they have.
  3. Socio-psychological support:  Its crucial to remember that the children are going to tough phase of life and must be support emotionally for which we need professionals to children to reach them and consult. Children must be supported emotionally to make life easier and guide them through out their journey.

Please watch to the following videos to better understand what Crisis management is? What is Crisis? Crisis Management Plans:







There are few questions intriguing to the mind that might help you want to research more on the topic: 

How can we lessen the risks that children encounter when entering buildings or other resources used in education? How can we offer education to anyone, anywhere? What ICT innovations will assist change education in times of crisis?


recommended readings:

  • Burde, D., Kapit, A., Wahl, R. L., Guven, O., & Skarpeteig, M. I. (2017). Education in emergencies: A review of theory and research.¬†Review of Educational Research,¬†87(3), 619-658.
  • Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2011). The rise of K-12 blended learning.¬†Innosight institute,¬†5(1), 1-17.
  • Staker, H. (2011). The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models.¬†Innosight Institute.


1. Burde, D., Kapit, A., Wahl, R. L., Guven, O., & Skarpeteig, M. I. (2017). Education in Emergencies: A Review of Theory and Research. Review of Educational Research, 87(3), 619‚Äď658.

2. pigozzy, m. j. (1999). education in emergencies and for reconstruction: a developmental approach. In m. j. pigozzy, education in emergencies and for reconstruction: a developmental approach (p. 30). new york: Working Paper Series.

3. INEE, 2004. Minimum standards for education in emergencies. Paris: Inter-agency
Network for Education in Emergencies.

4. Retamal, G.; Aedo-Richmond, R. 1998. (eds.) Education as a humanitarian
response. London: Cassell; Geneva: UNESCO International Bureau of

5. Kirk, J. (2006). Education in Emergencies: The Gender Implications. Advocacy Brief. UNESCO Bangkok. Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, PO Box 967, Prakhanong Post Office, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.

6. Valiathan, P. (2002). Blended learning models. Learning circuits, 3(8), 50-59.

7. Hancock, S., & Wong, T. (2012). Blended Learning. Retrieved July 31, 2012 from
8. Hofmann, J. (2011). Soapbox: Top 10 challenges of blended learning. Retrieved July 31, 2012 from

9. Kaur, M. (2013). Blended learning-its challenges and future. Procedia-social and behavioral sciences, 93, 612-617.

10. Hijazi, S., Crowley, M., Smith, M.L., and Schaffer, C. (2006, ‚ÄēMaximizing learning by teaching blended courses«Ā,

Proceedings of the 2006 ASCUE Conference, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Retrieved February 9, 2010 from ascue/Proceedings/2006 /Papers/p67.pdf

Zotero Group:

Key Terms

CRISIS : A time of intense difficulty or danger, a situation that is extremely difficult or dangerous, when there are many problems.

CONFLICT:  A serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.

 EMERGENCY:   A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

 EDUCATION: The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

ICT: The Information and Communication Technology

DRR: Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks and to contribute to strengthening resilience.

VULNERABLE PEOPLE:  A vulnerable person can be defined as someone who belongs to a group within society that is either oppressed or more susceptible to harm.

ENDORPHINS: Endorphins are chemicals (hormones) your body releases when it feels pain or stress. They’re released during pleasurable activities such as exercise, massage, eating and sex too. Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.

TRAUMA: A deeply distressing or disturbing experience.






About the authors

I am Mursal Amanzai from Afghanistan, I graduated from Osmania university in India with a bachelor’s degree and worked in government and international organizations, and in 2022 started my master’s in education at Asian university for women. I will dedicate my life to teaching future generations of students and cultivating their love of learning.

I am Fatima Qasemi, from Afghanistan. My native language is Farsi, however, I can Speak English, Hindi, and Turkish Fluently.
I have a¬† bachelor’s degree in BA (Journalism, OE, and Psychology ) from Bangalore University, India. I have taught English for three years in private courses.
My hobbies are swimming, traveling, shopping, reading books, etc. I have been to a few countries like India, China, UAE, and Turkey and would like to explore more in the future.
In the future, I would like to work with international NGOs, especially with refugees.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Strong Schools Copyright © 2023 by Mursal Amanzai and Fatima Qasemi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book