programmes can help address not only the psychological and social needs of the
children, but also the well being of the whole community, by helping to organize
the population and by providing structure for the children and their
programmes can provide important support to lifesaving activities;
· Every child has
the right to education. Even in an emergency, start providing appropriate
education as soon as possible;
· The priority is to
make primary schooling available to all. Special efforts will probably be
necessary to ensure the proper participation of girls in the
· Refugee schools
should be organized and run by the refugees themselves, to the extent possible,
with proper outside support.
73. Establishing an education system is important for the
well-being of the whole refugee community, as well as for the social and
psychological well-being of children and young people. Setting up basic schools
will give a structure and sense of normality to a dislocated and traumatized
community. Refugees are dislocated not only from their homes and families but
also from their community - the old community is disrupted while new community
structures are only gradually evolving. Schools can be the initial community
focal points, and a sense of well-being may be created if the new community is
partly structured around institutions which are as familiar as schools, rather
than around, for example, distribution points, registration and health centres
which may be more representative of the problems of their current situation.
74. In addition, schools can be initiated and managed by the
community itself much more easily than other refugee institutions, again
enhancing self-esteem and self-reliance. Refugee teachers and parents often
establish informal schools even in an emergency - as soon as basic needs in food
water and health are met, because they recognize the importance of a school
system for the reasons set out above.
Informal schools started by the refugees themselves should be
supported, and can be used as a basis to begin the programme.
75. In addition to community building, other important functions
of the education system in an emergency are:
i. To disseminate survival and life skills messages.
Simple messages can be spread through the school system, on issues such as
health, sanitation, nutrition, and looking after the local resources (fuelwood
for cooking) so they do not become too rapidly depleted;
ii. To provide parents with extra time to work on
family survival needs;
iii. To serve as an important protection tool in
certain circumstances, e.g. through providing an alternative to military
iv. To provide continuity of education which can
help reintegration in the country of origin.
Every child has the right to education, as set out in the
Convention on the Rights of the Child.
76. Detailed information on planning education programmes and on
standards for refugee schools is set out in the latest edition of NHCR's
Education Guidelines. These guidelines are essential reading for those
establishing an education programme.
Setting up an Education Programme
77. Basic education must be provided and, although priorities in
the emergency phase may mean that the full implementation of an education
programme is difficult, a start must be made. An education programme should only
be delayed if the emergency is clearly going to be short-lived.
The emergency education programme should provide free access
to organized activities and basic education for all refugee children and young
78. Identify teachers from the refugee population who can
organize recreational and educational activities, and identify agencies to
support the development of basic education programmes.
79. In the beginning, the aim is to establish a simple programme
of structured recreational and simple educational activities for children and
young people. This is possible even with limited educational supplies - simply
gathering the children together for a set period each day and keeping them
occupied is a valuable first step. Identify teachers from the refugee population
who are willing to do this. The activities should support the lifesaving
measures underway in other sectors by including simple messages on health,
sanitation etc. appropriate for the children's level, and by providing parents
with extra time to work on family survival needs. Recreational and activity
materials of the type listed in Annex 3 could be used to support such a
80. The initial activities should then be developed into a
primary school system, based on the curriculum of the country of origin. The
timing of the transition from the simple activities to the more formal primary
education will depend on the evolution of the emergency. Where the school system
in the country of asylum is similar to that of the country or area of origin and
refugee numbers are limited, resources may be provided to local schools to
enable them to accommodate refugee students, provided this is cost-effective.
81. A single, unified primary school system should be developed
as soon as possible. Educational materials of the type described in Annex 4 can
be used to establish a basic education programme. The materials on this list
would meet the initial needs of 1,000 refugees, and include sufficient writing
materials for two classrooms of students in the earliest stages of primary
school plus one classroom for students who have completed 2 or 3 years or more
of primary schooling. If each classroom is used initially for separate morning
and afternoon shifts, then a total of 240 students can be catered for. Typically
there would be two or more writing materials kits (of the type specified in
Annex 4) per school, according to the number of classrooms on each site.
The curriculum should initially be based on that of the
country or area of origin, to facilitate reintegration upon repatriation.
82. Where possible, contact should be made with the Education
Ministry of the country of origin, initially to obtain school textbooks and
teachers' guides and later regarding certification of education and training
received by refugees and teachers. In order to open schools as early as
possible, temporary shelters may be erected using plastic sheeting. The
community should be mobilized to help build and maintain school buildings. Other
items required for simple classroom structures, latrines etc. should be
constructed, using local materials where possible.
Smaller, decentralized schools are generally preferable to
large schools. Primary schools should be established within walking distance for
83. Recreational and sports programmes for children and
adolescents should be included as part of the education programme, and necessary
space should be allocated at the time of site planning. The likelihood that
additional classrooms may be needed at a later stage should likewise be borne in
mind at the time of site selection and demarcation.
It is probable that young refugees will have had their formal
education disrupted. There Should therefore be no limitation of entry to
schooling according to the age of the children or adolescents.
84. Initial budgets should provide for the printing or
photocopying of classroom materials for pupils and teachers, based on core
elements of the country of origin curriculum as well as for the initial purchase
of school and recreational supplies. Budgetary provision may also be necessary
for the translation and reproduction of materials supporting health,
environment, peace education and other messages.
agencies to be responsible for educational assistance in each location and to
establish and train community education committees and parent/ teacher
Identify school sites, and
erect temporary shelter, ensure construction of latrines;
Provide writing and
recreational materials to support community initiatives (see Annexes 3 and
Convene a refugee education
committee. Include refugees, local education authorities, relevant UN agencies,
implementing partners and refugee educators, at appropriate (district and/or
Consult UNHCR Headquarters
and the local UNICEF office regarding availability of educational materials and
Arrange the timing of
educational and recreational activities around other household and family
activities to get maximum participation and cooperation of
Establish schooling in all
refugee locations with refugee education advisers and teachers. Make plans for
moving to a normal system of education as soon as possible;
Aim at a realistic level of
service which can be sustained over the longer term;
Organize in-service training
of teachers. Training should cover: school organization; basic teaching methods;
review of basic subject matter; and dissemination of messages regarding health,
sanitation, environmental conservation and peace;
Monitor participation of
girls in educational programmes and promote girls' enrollment and attendance in
school. Identify what are the root causes of non-attendance by girls. Promote
recruitment and training of female teachers (at least 50 per cent);
children and youth in school or non-formal education. Causes of school drop-outs
and non-participation in community activities should be monitored.
85. An education specialist may be needed to advise on programme
development. Liaise with UNHCR Headquarters, regarding materials and expertise
available internally and through standby arrangements (see Catalogue of
Emergency Response Resources, Appendix 1).
86. The provision of education may give the refugees a privilege
not enjoyed by the local population of some locations. If the government is in
agreement and there is a common language of instruction, it is usually
appropriate to open the schools to the local population. Some assistance may be
provided to national schools located very near to refugee