Standard 1: Participation

Community members participate meaningfully, transparently, and without discrimination in the analysis, planning, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the education response.

Key Actions

1. Inclusive community participation: Ensure that a range of community members meaningfully participate in prioritizing, planning, designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating EiE activities.

See Guidance Notes:

2. Do no harm: Promote community participation in a way that is transparent, equitable, and does no harm.

See Guidance Notes:

3. Participation in analysis: Ensure that a wide range of community members participate in the analysis of EiE activities, including assessments, context analyses, social audits, joint budget reviews, and DRR and conflict mitigation activities.

See Guidance Notes:

4. Capacity sharing: Engage in capacity sharing activities with community members, education authorities, and other education stakeholders.

See Guidance Notes:

5. Community education committees: Include representatives of all vulnerable and marginalized groups in community education committees, to the extent possible.

See Guidance Notes:

6. Community-based education action plan: Engage in a participatory process to create a community-based education action plan.

See Guidance Notes:

7. Participation of children and young people: Invite children and young people to meaningfully participate in the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of EiE activities.

See Guidance Notes:

Guidance Notes
Inclusive community participation

Education authorities and other education stakeholders should make sure that a range of community members participate in EiE activities so that education is delivered safely, effectively, and equitably. Any member of the affected community should be able to participate meaningfully, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race, social class, religion, sexual orientation, disability, displacement status, civil documentation, political affiliation, HIV status, health status, or other factors. In the early stages of an acute response, participation might only be possible with a limited number of the people affected. There should be more opportunities over time for more people and groups to become involved in decision-making.

No group of people should be excluded from participating because they are difficult to reach or need assistance. Different forms of participation should be available, based on age, ability, language, and culture. Education actors should pay special attention to accessibility issues, security conditions, or other local circumstances that can affect the participation of marginalized or vulnerable groups. Local community groups, such as women’s and men’s organizations, elders and community leaders, faith leaders and organizations, refugee-led organizations, youth-led organizations, and OPDs can help to identify and remove barriers that may prevent vulnerable community members from participating in decision-making (for more guidance, see Sphere Handbook, Commitment 4; Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities, education inclusion standard 3; and INEE Guidance Note on Gender).

Community members’ knowledge is key to identifying appropriate and protective education services. It should guide education authorities and other education stakeholders when identifying the following:

  • The education needs and economic barriers to education access for all children and young people, and the preferred modality of assistance to address these (CVA, in-kind, and direct service delivery)
  • The financial, material, and human resources that are available locally
  • Existing and changing gender relations
  • Power dynamics in the community, including between dominant groups and marginalized groups
  • Security issues, risks, threats, and ways of protecting education institutions, staff members, and learners
  • Protection concerns in the learning environment, including SRGBV
  • Local hazards, safe and accessible locations for schools and other learning spaces, and approaches to DRR
  • Ways of including life-saving and conflict sensitive messages into the education response, including messages about major health issues in the community
  • Strategies to promote social cohesion, build peace, and address the root causes of conflict and disasters

Education authorities and other education stakeholders should work with local stakeholders to strengthen or develop links between families, the community, schools, universities, or other learning environments in a participatory, inclusive, and consultative way.

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Do no harm

External stakeholders should promote community participation in EiE activities in a transparent and equitable way to avoid contributing to existing inequalities or conflicts. This requires a thorough understanding of community dynamics. Education actors should conduct a community-level context analysis to help determine the most relevant and appropriate ways to promote community ownership of education activities.

Understanding the dynamics within a community is key to taking a “do no harm” approach. Where multiple communities are present in the same geographic location, it is important to understand and work with the network of communities. For example, in situations of displacement, the community members may include refugees or migrants who are living in a host community.

Make sure that participating in EiE activities does not harm any person or group, especially vulnerable groups or those most at risk of discrimination, such as women and girls, people who are LGBTQIA+, or ethnic and linguistic minorities. Identify who is at risk of discrimination or exclusion and why, and determine how to include them safely.

Community members must be clear about what is involved in participating and why particular groups are asked to be represented in planning and decision-making. Education actors must make it clear to communities and individuals how the information they gather will be used and if there will be any follow-up actions. People should understand that they can share information freely and confidentially, but also that they do not have to participate. If participating will expose people to risks or inconveniences, that must be made clear to all (for more guidance, see INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education; Minimum Standards for Child Protection, Standard 17; Sphere Handbook, Commitment 3).

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Participation in analysis

Local communities and groups are important partners in understanding barriers to participation in education. Analyzing educational activities is an essential way for the community to participate in education planning and problem-solving.

Social audits are community-based evaluations of an education program. They can help to do the following:

  • Work out which people, funding, and materials are available
  • Identify gaps in services
  • Monitor how effective a program is

It may not always be possible to carry out social audits at the beginning or in the middle of an emergency. However, in protracted or chronic crises or in the early recovery stages, social audits can help communities improve their ability to monitor education programs and keep a record of rights violations. Participating in social audits is particularly important for young people, especially girls, learners with disabilities, and learners who are not participating in formal or non-formal education. Education actors should share the results of social audits with all community members and the relevant authorities (for more guidance, see A Practical Guide to Social Audit as a Participatory Tool to Strengthen Democratic Governance, Transparency, and Accountability).

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Capacity sharing

Capacity sharing is a key part of community participation that involves respecting and building on the knowledge and expertise already present in a community. Community members can help to identify education experts, including teachers and other education personnel, who can share their cultural and contextual knowledge with external stakeholders. Their diverse knowledge and strengths should guide the planning and implementation of programs. If contextual expertise cannot be found, or if people are not able or willing to support the (re)establishment of the education system, community members and external stakeholders should then work together to develop capacity sharing activities.

Assessments should look at the different capacities, needs, and responses of children, young people, and adults in the community. This includes vulnerable groups such as girls, gender diverse children and young people, and persons with disabilities. External stakeholders also should assess their own capacities and gaps to identify where the expertise of local actors and communities can guide them. Capacity sharing activities among education personnel and community members should focus on roles and responsibilities for the long term. These activities should promote the community’s ownership of the education program, help to maintain it, and promote coordination with other sectors. Capacity sharing activities may cover areas such as resource mobilization and management, facility maintenance, disability awareness, and special measures taken to ensure the participation of children and young people. External stakeholders should prioritize using contextually relevant training resources, and working with institutions within the community that can provide recognized credentials for those who are participating in training.

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Community education committees

Communities organize themselves in a variety of ways. One forum for community participation is a community education committee, which refers to a group of community members who identify and try to meet the education needs and rights of all learners in a community. This includes learners in non-formal education. These committees may also be called parent-teacher associations and school management committees. In some contexts, they may be formally recognized in national laws as part of school governance structures. A community education committee or similar group is key to making sure that education approaches come from and are led by the community. External stakeholders should support existing community education committees. If one does not exist, external stakeholders should encourage the community to form one, in collaboration with education authorities and the inter-agency coordination mechanism.

The community education committee should represent all groups in the community, which may include:

  • Teachers, head teachers, and other education personnel
  • Parents and caregivers
  • Children and young people
  • Representatives from tertiary education, including learners, faculty, and staff members from higher education and TVET programs
  • Representatives from local NGOs, CSOs, and CBOs
  • Representatives from local and indigenous communities
  • Cultural, religious, and community leaders
  • Staff members from other sectors, including health, protection, etc.

It is essential to include representatives of all marginalized and vulnerable groups. Formally recognized groups may need to add members to be truly representative. Community education committee members should be chosen through a participatory process that is locally accepted and allows all community members to participate equitably.

During complex crises, where distinctions like ethnicity, tribe, religion, and race can be divisive, the community education committee should work with all parties in a way that does not risk harming any person or group. The committee members’ aim should be for everyone in the community to receive an education that is safe, impartial, and appropriate. They should have firsthand knowledge of changes in the socioeconomic, political, and safety and security context and share this with decision-makers at all levels.

The roles and responsibilities of community education committee members should be clearly defined and aligned with national and sub-national education systems, where they exist. The roles and responsibilities may include:

Communicating with local and national education authorities and the duty bearers who are responsible for providing access to quality education

  • Defining the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of humanitarian actors in community-led education activities
  • Negotiating education approaches that consider age, gender, language, ability, and culture so that education programs respect learners’ needs and rights; examples include flexible school calendars and age-appropriate curricula
  • Organizing financial and in-kind contributions from communities
  • Identifying what is needed for capacity sharing and helping to design these activities
  • Monitoring who is and is not participating in learning opportunities, and the quality of teaching and learning
  • Strengthening the safety and security of staff members and learners going to and from school
  • Including DRR, conflict sensitivity, and climate risk management in the provision of education, including disaster preparedness plans that are disability-inclusive
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Community-based education action plan

A community-based education action plan should build on the education sector plan (ESP), if there is one. It should have a framework for improving formal and non-formal education programs that are in line with the country’s education policies, strategies, and plans. It should reflect the needs, rights, concerns, and values of the affected community, particularly those who belong to vulnerable groups, so it should be developed in a participatory manner. Community-based education plans can be developed through the community education committee with support from local education authorities and humanitarian partners.

An education action plan focuses on ensuring continuity of education. It may have several objectives, including the following:

  • Developing a shared vision of what the teaching and learning environment might become
  • Adapting curricula to the context, which may include conflict sensitivity, gender-responsiveness, DRR, and climate risk management
  • Agreeing on how to recruit, supervise, train, compensate, and support teachers and other education personnel, if there is not already a national system
  • Taking a human rights-based approach to reduce discrimination and promote a shared understanding that education must be inclusive and equitable
  • Reaching agreement on how to develop a safe and supportive learning environment and committing to do it, including protecting education from attack and SRGBV
  • Outlining tasks and responsibilities for the education authorities who are legally responsible for protecting the right to education, and other education stakeholders; this can include organizing resource mobilization, maintaining and developing infrastructure, and coordinating with outside agencies and other sectors, including protection, food security, health, nutrition, and WASH

Action plans should include regular community monitoring and assessment of EiE activities to maintain broad community participation in the response.

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Participation of children and young people

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children and young people have a right to express their views on issues that affect them. This gives children and young people the right to participate in all stages of the education response and to take part in decision-making around the development and management of the education system. Stakeholders should support children’s and young people’s participation in activities and discussions in a safe, secure, and welcoming environment that encourages constructive dialogue. Child-friendly engagement strategies should be used to help children and young people express themselves in ways that acknowledge and respect their age and culture, such as through art, music, and drama. Children and young people are experts in their own lives, and understanding their specific needs and experiences is essential to providing a quality education response. Education authorities and humanitarian actors should consult them when designing and conducting assessments. Young people in particular should meaningfully participate at all stages of data collection and analysis, monitoring, and evaluation. This will also give them an opportunity to learn skills such as data collection, communication, and evidence-based advocacy for themselves and their communities. Participation should be inclusive of gender, ability, and language to ensure that a diverse range of needs and voices are heard. It should be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of individual children and young people (for more guidance, see INEE Guidance Note on Gender; Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities, education inclusion standard 3).

Involving children and young people in any type of process should serve the best interests of the child, adhere to the principle of do no harm, and follow the basic requirements for children’s effective and ethical participation, as outlined in General Comment No. 12 (2009) The right of the child to be heard. Actors who work with children and young people must have safeguarding and referral mechanisms in place to address child protection concerns and any MHPSS needs that may arise. This is a standard requirement for anyone working with children, and important when working with vulnerable or marginalized groups, such as young women, gender diverse learners, learners with disabilities, and ethnic minorities (for more guidance, see Minimum Standards for Child Protection, Principles 3 and 4;  Supporting Integrated Child Protection and Education Programming in Humanitarian Action).

Education actors should encourage children and young people to participate in co-curricular activities and programs that teach them ways to protect and support their own and their community’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive wellbeing. Participation in these activities gives young people positive alternatives to becoming involved in armed groups or criminal gangs or other negative coping mechanisms. It also promotes personal development and enables the participating young people to develop useful skills, self-efficacy, and good interpersonal relationships. Such programs also encourage the community to appreciate the contributions their children and young people make.

Involving children and young people in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of their education programs, especially skills and livelihoods training, makes it more likely that the programs will meet their current and future needs. Youth-led organizations can help identify ways to engage young people in creating positive change, including peacebuilding, social cohesion, addressing the root causes of conflicts and disasters, and becoming part of climate change solutions. Opportunities for young people to participate can include the following:

  • Participating in structured volunteer activities and civic engagement
  • Engaging in peer mentoring, peer mediation, or conflict resolution
  • Helping to develop comprehensive school safety plans or age-appropriate learning activities on relevant topics such as climate change

(For more guidance, see Minimum Economic Recovery Standards, Enterprise and Market Systems Development Standards and Employment Standards.)

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Supporting Resources

Supporting Resources
1 May 2020 Manual/Handbook/Guide
Grand Bargain Localisation Workstream

Guidance note on capacity strengthening for localisation

This guidance note collates recommendations on capacity strengthening drawing from three regional workshops conducted by the Grand Bargain Localisation Workstream in 2019, including representatives of local and national NGOs, international NGOs, government and regional donors, and UN agencies.

1 November 2020 Manual/Handbook/Guide Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

With Us and For Us: Working with and for Young people in Humanitarian and Protracted Crises

These IASC guidelines provide a framework for working with and for young people throughout the humanitarian programme cycle (HPC), complete with tips, examples and case studies. In addition, humanitarian actors can use this guidance as a reference to design programmes that respond to their context

1 March 2013 Manual/Handbook/Guide Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education

Building upon the INEE Minimum Standards, the INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education offers strategies for developing and implementing conflict sensitive education (CSE) programmes and policies.

9 July 2019 Manual/Handbook/Guide Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI)

INEE Guidance Note on Gender

The INEE Guidance Note on Gender provides strategies to ensure that girls, boys, women, and men in contexts of conflict and crisis equally enjoy the protection and learning outcomes that quality education can provide.

5 December 2022 Manual/Handbook/Guide Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

Supporting Integrated Child Protection and Education Programming in Humanitarian Action

This guidance note by INEE and the Alliance aims to promote integration and collaboration across the two humanitarian sectors of education and child protection. It orients stakeholders in both sectors to principles, frameworks, opportunities, and resources for program integration in order to ensure efficient, targeted, and effective interventions that result in improved outcomes for children and young people.

1 January 2016 Toolkit United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation

The Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation is a package of guidance, tools, activities, and supplies to support adolescents ages 10-18, especially those who are affected by humanitarian crises.

1 March 2024 Manual/Handbook/Guide
Sphere Project
CHS Alliance, Group URD

Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) sets out nine commitments to ensure that organisations support people and communities affected by crisis and vulnerability in ways that respect their rights and dignity and promote their primary role in finding solutions to the crises they face.

1 July 2021 Manual/Handbook/Guide Save the Children

The Nine Basic Requirements for Meaningful and Ethical Children's Participation

The Nine Basic Requirements serve to ensure quality child participation in ‘all processes in which a child or children are heard and participate’. They help us improve quality across our global programmes, advocacy and campaigns. Further they help ensure children’s voices are heard and respected and they hold us to account as the world's leading independent organisation for children.


Untitled Spreadsheet
INEE Domain INEE Standard Indicator/Program Requirements Clarification Numerator Denominator Target Disaggregation Source of Indicator Source of Data Available Tool Crisis Phase
Foundational Standards Community Participation Participation (FDN/Community Participation Std 1)

Community members participate actively, transparently, and without discrimination in analysis, planning, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of education responses.
1.1 Percentage of parents actively participating in the conception and implementation of education in emergencies services Number of parents consulted Number of parents To be defined by program Gender Based on OCHA Indicator Registry Program documentation No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient All stages
1.2 Percentage of parents satisfied with the quality and appropriateness of response at the end of the project Number of parents satisfied with the quality and appropriateness of response at the end of the project Number of parents 100% NA Based on OCHA Indicator Registry Program documentation Tool required All stages
Resources (FDN/Community Participation Std 2)

Community resources are identified, mobilized and used to implement age-appropriate learning opportunities.
1.3 Analysis of opportunity to use local resources is carried out and acted on Scale 1-5 (1 = low, 5 = high) 5 NA New Program/procurement documentation Tool required All stages
Coordination Coordination (FDN/Coordination Std 1)

Coordination mechanisms for education are in place to support stakeholders working to ensure access to and continuity of quality education.
1.4 Percentage of regular relevant coordination mechanism (i.e., Education Cluster, EiEWG, LEGs) meetings attended by program team Number of regular relevant coordination mechanism (i.e.; Education Cluster, EiE Working Group (WG), Local Education Group (LEG) meetings attended by program team Number of regular relevant coordination mechanism (i.e. Education Cluster, EiEWG, LEGs) meetings held during organizational presence 100% NA New Meeting records No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient All stages
Analysis Assessment (FDN/Analysis Std 1)

Timely education assessments of the emergency situation are conducted in a holistic, transparent, and participatory manner.
1.5 Percentage of education needs assessments, carried out by the relevant coordinating body the program has participated in These include initial rapid and ongoing/rolling assessments Number of assessments organization contributed to Number of possible assessments organization could have contributed to 100% NA New Assessment records No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient All stages
Response Strategies (FDN/Analysis Std 2)

Inclusive education response strategies include a clear description of the context, barriers to the right to education, and strategies to overcome those barriers.
1.6 Strength of analysis of context, of barriers to the right to education, and of strategies to overcome those barriers Scale 1-5 (1 = low, 5 = high) 5 NA New Program documentation Tool required All stages
Monitoring (FDN/Analysis Std 3)

Regular monitoring of education response activities and the evolving learning needs of the affected population is carried out.
1.7 Percentage of education needs assessments carried out in defined time period Frequency to be defined by organization. Monitoring measures should be relevant to the desired program outcomes Number of education needs assessments carried out per year Number of education needs assessments required per year 100% NA New M&E plans and results No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient During program implementation
Evaluation (FDN/Analysis Std 4)

Systematic and impartial evaluations improve education response
activities and enhance accountability.
1.8 Number of evaluations carried out Number of evaluations carried out NA NA New M&E plans and results No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient Program completion
1.9 Percentage of evaluations shared with parents Number of evaluations shared with parents Number of evaluations 100% NA New M&E plans and results No tool required; INEE MS and indicator definitions sufficient Program completion