Lessons on learning: Providing education in crises

By Liana Barcia 27 July 2015

Refugee children from South Sudan attend a class at a makeshift school at Kule Camp in Ethiopia. As a result of education being underfunded during crisis situations, 65 million children caught in conflict are out of school or at risk of dropping out. Photo by: UNICEF Ethiopia / CC BY-NC-ND

There are more refugees and displaced people in the world today than ever recorded, and more than half of them are children. For them, and for millions more living in conflict-ridden and fragile states, education is often their only protection against becoming a lost generation, unable to bounce back from adversity without any employment prospects or a secure place in society.

The value of education is widely recognized and understood among aid workers, world leaders and refugees themselves, but in crisis situations, the sector is the most underfunded, receiving only 2 percent of humanitarian aid in 2014. As a result, 65 million children caught in conflict or crisis are out of school or at risk of dropping out, and according to the Overseas Development Institute, the world needs an annual $4.8 billion more to ensure that no child really is left behind.

“It’s an issue of increasing numbers in a context where we are faced with decreasing funding levels,” Barbara Zeus, education specialist at the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told Devex.

The issue did, however, take center stage at the recent Oslo Summit on Education for Development, where there were talks of creating a global humanitarian fund for education in emergencies. The oft-neglected sector has long been searching for a global funding champion to pull it out of its funding slump, and many are optimistic about the European Union leading the way. The 28-member bloc recently pledged 4 percent of its humanitarian aid budget for education for children in emergencies — an action that will hopefully drive other donors to follow suit.

This article is for Devex Members
For full access to the content of the article sign in or join Devex.

About the author

034 devex%2520aug2015  pamstacruzphotography liana
Liana Barcia

Liana is a Manila-based reporter at Devex focusing on education, development finance and public-private partnerships and contributing a wide range of content featured in the Development Insider, Money Matters and Doing Good newsletters. She draws from her experience in business reporting and advertising to generate coverage that is engaging, insightful and relevant to the Devex community.

Join the Discussion