Standard 5: Response Strategies

Inclusive education response strategies include a clear description of the context and of the barriers to the right to education, and strategies to overcome those barriers.

Key Actions

1. Evidence-based response strategies: Reflect the assessment findings accurately in response strategies.

See Guidance Notes:

2. Response planning: Ensure that the education response progressively enables the people affected to access inclusive and equitable quality education.

See Guidance Notes:

3. Do no harm: Design and implement response strategies in ways that do not harm the community or service providers.

See Guidance Notes:

4. Updates to response strategies: Regularly update information collected from the initial assessment and context analysis to guide the education response.

See Guidance Notes:

5. Donor response: Provide enough funds for the response to ensure that the minimum level of education access and quality can be met.

See Guidance Notes:

6. Education system resilience: Include activities in response strategies that support the education authorities, local and national actors, and community members to prepare for, prevent, and respond to future crises.

See Guidance Notes:

7. Harmonization with national programs: Ensure that EiE response strategies complement and align with national education programs.

See Guidance Notes:

8. Baseline data: Collect baseline data systematically at the start of a program.

See Guidance Notes:

Guidance Notes
Evidence-based response strategies

Response strategies must be based on evidence and driven by a needs analysis of both the demand side and the supply side. It is important to consider the assistance modality, such as CVA, in-kind, and direct service delivery. Education stakeholders should carefully analyze and interpret the assessment data, and their response strategies should reflect the key findings and major priorities. They should also be aware of biases and assumptions about what people need, and of the most appropriate way to meet those needs. To ensure that the learners’, educators’, and education systems’ specific needs are met, stakeholders may need to adapt and contextualize their response approach to be in line with the information gathered during the assessments.

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Response planning

Education stakeholders should develop a rapid response plan as soon as possible after the onset of a new crisis, or if an existing crisis suddenly worsens. A rapid response plan is typically a condensed version of a broader response strategy. It is implemented during the first phase of a response, usually up to three months. Education should be included in all multi-sectoral rapid response mechanisms. In some situations this may not happen due to contextual constraints, so a separate but complementary education rapid response should be planned, coordinated, and implemented through the education coordination mechanism. Rapid response activities should focus on essential services that address the immediate wellbeing and learning needs of learners and of teachers and other education personnel. These may include providing temporary infrastructure and recreational, creative, and academic materials; conducting initial assessments to determine learning levels to tailor the response; and interventions such as MHPSS, SEL, school meals, and child-friendly spaces. The rapid response services should connect with longer-term programming as soon as possible. It is important to base response strategies on preparedness or contingency plans or, if there are none, to develop these plans with the meaningful and inclusive participation of sub-national or local education authorities and communities (for more guidance, see Strengthening Rapid Education Response Toolkit).

After the first phase of a response, rapid response plans should blend into the broader education response programming. The voices and perspectives of all learners, teachers, and community members should guide the design and implementation of the response strategies. It is also important to acknowledge that programs are implemented within a national policy context which will also influence what response options are available. Increasing learning and protection should be a priority of response strategies. Response strategies can outline the different levels, languages, and types of education, identify the risks and hazards, and indicate whether other agencies or sectors are supporting education activities. The budget for implementing a response strategy should include essential education activities, including baseline data collection, monitoring, and evaluation.

Response strategies should be as flexible as possible to allow education stakeholders to carry out key activities, including the following:

  • Analyzing and working to remove barriers to access for all levels and types of education
  • Assessing learning levels
  • Adapting learning opportunities to meet the needs of all learners
  • Providing multiple learning pathways
  • Connecting to essential services beyond the education sector, such as protection, MHPSS, nutrition, WASH, health, and food security
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Do no harm

During an EiE response, resources like training, jobs, supplies, and food are introduced or distributed in what are often resource-scarce environments. To some, these resources can represent power and wealth. They can become a part of the conflict, worsen the effects of the emergency, or contribute to existing inequalities within the community, such as marginalization or discrimination. In a conflict situation, some people may try to control and use these resources to support their side and weaken the other side, or to gain personally. Stakeholders can use risk and conflict analysis to help ensure that resources are distributed equitably and that the EiE response maximizes positive impact and minimizes negative impact (for more guidance, see INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education).

Transferring resources and conducting an EiE response can also strengthen local actors’ capacity to build peace or promote social cohesion. Awareness raising activities can lessen division and tension by building on or creating ties that bring a community together. For example, teacher professional development programs can unite teachers in their professional identities as educators that bridge ethnic divides. Ensuring the inclusion of marginalized groups in community activities can promote more equitable community relations. Awareness raising efforts also can improve attitudes about the education of persons with disabilities and the contributions they make to the community.

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Updates to response strategies

Education stakeholders should regularly review and update their response strategies during emergencies, and through to recovery.  Updates should reflect the state of learner’s learning and protection, changes in strategy and what has been achieved, as well as changes in the emergency and security situation. Feedback from learners and teachers on how the response has or has not met their needs and rights should guide the strategy updates. Changing needs should also be reflected in the updated strategy. Education programming should promote progressive improvements in learning, inclusion, equity, coverage, sustainability, and shared ownership. To ensure that education activities are gradually handed over to the relevant parties, updated response strategies should have transition plans and exit strategies in place at levels of education.

Reviewing and updating response strategies can provide opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration. This may include coordinating and identifying common activities between child protection and the education response, between the ECD response and nutrition programming, or between TVET programs and economic recovery activities.

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Donor response

Humanitarian partners and donors need to regularly review the quality and coverage of the EiE response to ensure that it meets the minimum levels of access and quality. They should pay particular attention to how many learners from vulnerable groups enroll and continue to go to school to ensure that they have equal access to education. “Equal access” means that all children, young people, and adult learners have equal education opportunities, particularly those marginalized because of ethnicity, language, gender, disability, race, or class. Funding for the education response should be available as early as possible when a crisis occurs and should be given the same priority as the water, food, shelter, and health responses. Donors and humanitarian partners must adhere to do no harm principles to ensure that their assistance does not negatively impact communities hosting refugees and/or IDPs, for example by contributing to social tension through unequal support. Adequate funding is critical to fulfilling the right to education for all. Short-term funding cycles should not limit the run of EiE programs, which should continue well into the recovery period.

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Education system resilience

The EiE response should include activities led by education authorities to build a more resilient system for the future. They should strive to create an inclusive education system for all learners, including those from marginalized groups.

Education authorities, local and national actors, humanitarian and development partners, and donors should work together through coordination mechanisms to promote and support activities for disaster risk management and emergency preparedness. Local and national actors are in the best position to lead an emergency response from preparedness through to recovery, and to guide the transition from a rapid response to a longer-term response. Investment in disaster risk management and preparedness will enable education authorities and their partners to plan, coordinate, and respond more effectively. Measures taken before a crisis and during recovery can include:

  • Providing support for education authorities to update or create emergency preparedness plans and contingency plans
  • Working with school communities to choose safe sites and buildings, or to repair, rebuild, and retrofit schools, early childhood centers, and other learning environments
  • Helping set up early warning systems at the community level

Response strategies should include capacity sharing between education authorities, local and national actors, communities, and external stakeholders. In order to prepare for, prevent, and respond to future crises, capacity sharing should build on challenges and goals identified by communities. This can include:

  • Supporting local stakeholders, community members, and young people to implement response activities, such as assessments of the education sector that include data collection and analysis
  • Creating professional development opportunities with teachers and other education personnel that focus on comprehensive school safety, teaching social and emotional skills, training learners in DRR, and educating them on climate change at every level of education
  • Capacity sharing between local and national actors and international actors and donors to adapt funding policies and procedures to increase partners’ access to direct funding and support continuity and sustainability between crises or programs
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Harmonization with national programs

It is important to harmonize the EiE response with the national education policies, strategies, and programs reflected in the existing ESP, transitional education plan (TEP), or other national education plans. This is key to ensuring the continuity of learning processes and practices, to creating sustainable exit strategies and/or transition plans, and to supporting the leading role of education authorities. Harmonization can involve national and local education planning, analysis, assessment, coordination, administration and management, and physical infrastructure. For example, the amount spent to compensate teachers and buy equipment should be harmonized across organizations so that spending levels are sustainable over the long term.

Humanitarian organizations with specific mandates and missions, such as supporting children, primary education, or refugees, should make sure that their education response complements those of the education authorities and other education stakeholders. The overall education response strategy should be equitable and inclusive and cover the following:

  • ECD and caregiver support
  • Primary education
  • Education opportunities for young people, including skills building, secondary, higher, technical and vocational, and livelihood education
  • Accelerated education and non-formal programs
  • Adult education
  • Disability-inclusive and gender-responsive education
  • Pre-service and in-service teacher training

Response strategies for adult learners should include education literacy and numeracy programs. Survival skills and awareness training are also important in terms of safety and security, such as landmine awareness. Response strategies in situations of displacement or areas with returnee refugees should include longer-term support, such as accelerated education, catch-up classes, bridging programs, vocational training, and higher education opportunities.

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Baseline data

Baseline data offers evidence-based insight into the education situation before EiE programs and activities began. The baseline data makes it possible to monitor and evaluate the effects of programs and should be collected systematically. The key data for a strong baseline includes disaggregated population data, school attendance rates, and teacher-student ratios. Data specific to an intervention can also be helpful. For example, if the aim of a program is to improve girls’ school attendance, the baseline is their attendance rates before the program began.

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Supporting Resources

Supporting Resources
30 June 2022 Manual/Handbook/Guide Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector (GADRRRES)

Comprehensive School Safety Framework 2022-2030

The CSSF 2022-2030 is an all-hazards, all-risks approach to protecting children and education, offering governments a practical framework to make urgent progress across a multitude of children’s rights and the sustainable development agenda.

14 September 2022 Manual/Handbook/Guide Education Cannot Wait (ECW), Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI)


The EiE-GenKit is a core resource package for gender in education in emergencies. The EiE-GenKit is the first resource of its kind, providing education practitioners with practical tools to promote gender-responsive programming  from crisis to peace and sustainable development.

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 January 2007 Manual/Handbook/Guide Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)

Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) issued these Guidelines to enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve peoples mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.

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.

1 October 2021 Toolkit
Education Cannot Wait (ECW), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), REPSSI

MHPSS and EiE Toolkit

The aim of this toolkit is to increase understanding between the two sectors, to encourage dialogue for planning and programming, and ultimately to strengthen the quality of MHPSS and education responses in emergencies.

1 May 2019 Manual/Handbook/Guide United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Risk-informed Education Programming for Resilience

This Guidance Note aims to help UNICEF education staff at all levels, who are working in humanitarian, transition, and development contexts, analyze risk and adapt education policies and programs to take risk into account, so that education populations and systems are more resilient and all children and youth are in school and learning.

30 November 2022 Toolkit
Global Education Cluster, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organziation (UNESCO)
European Union, REACH, Translators without Borders

Strengthening Rapid Education Response Toolkit

The first of its kind Strengthening Rapid Education Response Toolkit provides country or field-level Education teams practitioners and coordinators with a practical resource and advocacy tool to ensure education’s inclusion in first phase humanitarian response. This includes demonstrating and advocating for the importance of including education in RRMs for a holistic and child-focused response to non-education actors.

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.

23 June 2020 Assessment
Washington Group on Disability Statistics

Washington Group Short Set on Functioning (WG-SS)

The WG Short Set of six questions on functioning for use on national censuses and surveys was developed, tested and adopted by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG). The questions reflect advances in the conceptualization of disability and use the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) as a conceptual framework. 


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