Education in emergencies: EU and UNICEF call for increased commitments to invest in safe and quality education for children in crisis

European Commission

Growing levels of displacement and protracted conflicts are having a severe impact on children and youth worldwide, with an estimated 222 million school-aged children and adolescents in need of education. This figure includes 78 million who are out of school.

Given this, the European Commission and UNICEF are calling for strengthened collective engagement and for an increase in public funding to help children caught up in fragile humanitarian settings to stay in, or to return to, learning. The call comes during the joint High-Level Conference on Education in Emergencies held on 22 March 2023 in Brussels, held back-to-back with the European Humanitarian Forum.

The destruction of schools and attacks on students and teachers are common in many conflict-ridden parts of the world.

Since the beginning of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, for example, more than 3,025 educational institutions have been bombed or shelled. In the Sahel, millions of children are kept away from school because of conflict. More than 2.6 million Syrian children live in camps, informal settlements and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Türkiye.

The EU aims to provide €158 million for education in emergencies projects globally in 2023.

Despite the enormous benefits to children, societies and entire countries, education is often the first service to be suspended and the last to be restored during crises. On average, the education sector receives less than 3% of humanitarian aid.

The EU dedicates 10% of its initial humanitarian aid budget to education in emergency situations. The same is true for development aid: with 10% of its initial budget allocated to education, the aim is to ensure a solid basis that will allow children to develop their talents and fulfil their potential.

Between 2015-2022, the EU allocated €970 million for education in emergencies, benefitting over 20 million children and young people. The EU has now been funding education in emergencies projects for over 10 years in its humanitarian aid programmes, since the Children of Peace initiative was established from funds received from the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.....