20 Years of INEE: Achievements and Challenges in Education in Emergencies
INEE turns 20-years old this month and there is much to celebrate. And challenges remain.
Two decades on from its establishment by UNESCO, UNICEF and UNHCR in 2000, the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) has grown from a small group of dedicated education in emergencies (EiE) actors, to a global network of nearly 18,000 members around the world. INEE has been part of significant changes in the field of education in emergencies that have led to increased coordination, a greater focus on financing for EiE, and the setting of standards for education in emergencies.
Yet celebrations of our achievements are tinged with sadness, at a time of a global COVID-19 emergency that affects the education of children and youth in almost every nation in the world. As the world responds to the global education emergency caused by the pandemic, it is imperative that children and young people living in crisis-affected countries are not left further behind.
New data show that, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 127 million primary and secondary school-age children and young people living in crisis-affected countries were out of school in 2019. This is equivalent to almost half of the global out-of-school population, even though only around 29% of children and young people in this age group globally live in crisis-affected countries. These figures are based on new data provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
These data are published today in INEE’s 20th Anniversary report prepared in collaboration with the REAL Centre, University of Cambridge, ‘20 Years of INEE: Achievements and Challenges in Education in Emergencies’, which highlights the continuing challenge to ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
The new analysis further identifies that girls are more likely than boys to be out of school in crisis contexts. In 2019, the out-of-school rate for children of primary and secondary school age living in countries affected by crisis was 31% for girls and 27% for boys. This gender gap is particularly pronounced for primary-age children; in 2019, around 20% of primary school-age girls living in crisis-affected countries were out of school, compared with 3% living in non-crisis countries. Around 16% of primary school-age boys living in crisis-affected contexts were out of school, compared with 3% of their counterparts in non-crisis countries.
The rights of children and young people are not suspended during an emergency. Quality education protects cognitive development and supports psychosocial well-being. In times of crisis, it offers children a sense of hope. Without a sustained focus on providing education in crisis-affected countries, the world will not meet the 2030 targets set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As INEE celebrates its 20th year, the imperative of ensuring that all individuals affected by crisis have the right to a quality, safe, relevant, and equitable education remains as critical as it was when the network was established.