These standards focus on critical elements that promote effective teaching and learning, including curricula, training, professional development and support, instruction and learning processes, and assessment of learning outcomes.
Culturally, socially and linguistically relevant curricula are used to provide formal and non-formal education, appropriate to the particular context and needs of learners.
Formal curricula and examinations used in the education of refugees and internally displaced people are recognised by home and host governments
Curricula address the psychosocial well-being and protection needs of learners
See Guidance Notes:
Learning content, materials and instruction are provided in the language(s) of the learners
See Guidance Notes:
Curricula, textbooks and supplementary materials are gender-sensitive, recognise diversity, prevent discrimination and promote respect for all learners
See Guidance Notes:
Sufficient, locally procured teaching and learning materials are provided in a timely manner
See Guidance Notes:
A curriculum is a plan of action to help learners to improve their knowledge and skills. It applies to both formal and non-formal education programmes and needs to be relevant and adaptable to all learners. It includes learning objectives, learning content, assessments, teaching methods and materials:
- ‘learning objectives’ identify the knowledge, attitudes and skills that will be developed through education activities to promote the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of learners;
- ‘learning content’ refers to subject areas such as literacy, numeracy and life skills;
- ‘assessment’ refers to the measurement of what has been learned in the form of knowledge, attitudes and skills for the learning content covered;
- ‘teaching methods’ refer to the approach chosen for, and used in, the presentation of learning content to encourage the acquisition of knowledge and skills in all learners;
- ‘instructional material’ refers to books, maps and charts, supplementary study materials, teachers’ guides, equipment, toys and other teaching and learning materials.
Curricula should be age-appropriate and compatible with learners’ developmental level, including their sensory, mental, cognitive, psychosocial and physical development. Age and developmental levels may vary widely within formal and non-formal education programmes in emergency to recovery contexts. This requires adaptation of curricula and methods. Teachers should be given support to adapt their teaching to the needs and levels of the learners with whom they work.
Curriculum review and development is a long, complex processes and should be carried out by accepted and appropriate education authorities. If formal education programmes are being re-established during or after emergencies, recognised national primary and secondary school curricula should be used. In settings where none exist, curricula will need to be quickly developed or adapted. In the case of refugees, this may be based on curricula from the host country or the country of origin. In other cases, curricula adapted from comparable emergency settings may be appropriate.
In refugee situations, curricula should ideally be acceptable in both the country of origin and the host country, to facilitate voluntary repatriation. This requires substantial regional and inter-agency coordination, taking into account, for example, language competencies and recognition of examination results for certification. Refugee and host country perspectives and international law should inform these decisions. In emergencies through to recovery, the curricula of formal and non- formal education programmes should be enriched with knowledge and skills specific to the emergency context.
Special curricula may be needed for certain groups, such as:
- children and youth earning a livelihood;
- those formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups;
- learners older than their grade level or returning from long periods out of school;
- adult learners.
The development and evaluation of curricula and textbooks and the periodic review of education programmes should be led by the relevant education authorities. Learners, teachers and teachers’ unions, and affected communities should be actively involved. Textbook review panels, including representatives of different ethnic and other vulnerable groups, may help to avoid perpetuating bias and to build peace between different communities. They should take care not to incite tensions in the process of removing divisive messages from textbooks.
Core competencies should be identi ed before the development or adaptation of learning content and teacher training materials. ‘Core competencies’ of basic education are:
- functional literacy and numeracy;
- the essential knowledge, life skills, attitudes and practice required by learners to attain a life with dignity and to participate actively and meaningfully as members of their community.
Core competencies should be reinforced through practical application. Early childhood development interventions should be available for very young children. Strong foundations developed in early childhood form the basis for acquiring and mastering core competencies.
Life skills learning content and key concepts should be appropriate to the age, different learning styles, experience and environment of the learners. They enhance learners’ capacity to lead independent, productive lives. Content and concepts should be context-specific and may include:
- health and hygiene promotion, including sexual and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS;
- child protection and psychosocial support;
- human rights education, citizenship, peace-building and humanitarian law;
- disaster risk reduction and life-saving skills, including education on landmines and unexploded ordnance;
- culture, recreation, sports and arts, including music, dance, drama and visual arts;
- livelihoods skills and vocational and technical skills training;
- local and indigenous environmental knowledge;
- protection skills related to the specific risks and threats faced by girls and boys.
Learning content lays the foundations for learners’ livelihoods. The content of vocational training programmes should be determined by employment opportunities and should include workplace practice such as apprenticeships.
In conflict affected communities, conflict resolution and peace education content and methodologies may enhance understanding between groups. They can provide communication skills to facilitate reconciliation and peace-building. Care is needed in the implementation of peace education initiatives to ensure that communities are ready to address contentious or painful issues.
The psychosocial needs, rights and development of learners, teachers and other education personnel should be addressed at all stages of emergency through to recovery. Education personnel need training to recognise signs of distress in learners. They should be able to take steps to address distress, including using referral mechanisms to provide additional support. There should be clear guidelines for teachers, education support staff and community members on providing psychosocial support to children inside and outside the class. Learners who have experienced distress need teaching within a predictable structure, using positive disciplinary methods and shorter learning periods to build concentration. All learners can be involved in cooperative recreational and learning activities. Appropriate teaching methods and content give learners increased self-confidence and hope for their future.
Teachers and other education personnel, often recruited from the affected population, can face the same distress as learners. This should be addressed through training, monitoring and support. Teachers should not be expected to take on responsibilities that could prove detrimental to their own psychosocial well-being or to that of learners.
Language of instruction can be a divisive issue in multilingual countries and communities. To minimise marginalisation, decisions about language(s) of instruction should be made on the basis of consensus, involving the community, education authorities and other relevant stakeholders. Teachers should be able to teach in language(s) understood by learners and to communicate with parents and the broader community. Deaf and blind students should be taught using the most appropriate languages and methods to ensure full inclusion. Supplementary classes and activities, especially early childhood learning, should be available in the language(s) of the learners.
In refugee situations, host countries may require refugee schools to comply with their standards, including the use of their language(s) and curricula. It is important to know the rights of refugee learners. Their future opportunities and what is needed to allow them to continue their education in host or home communities after an emergency need to be considered. In situations of extended displacement, opportunities should be provided for learners to learn the language of the host community or country. This enables them to function within the host community and to continue to access education and opportunities.
Diversity should be considered in the development and implementation of educational activities at all stages of emergency through to recovery. This means including learners, teachers and other education personnel from different backgrounds and vulnerable groups and the promotion of tolerance and respect. Specific aspects of diversity may include:
- mental and physical disability;
- learning capacity;
- learners from diverse income groups;
- classes containing children of different ages;
- culture and nationality;
- ethnicity and religion.
Curricula, instructional materials and teaching methodologies should eliminate bias and reinforce equity. Programmes can go beyond talking about tolerance and begin to change attitudes and behaviours. This leads to better recognition and respect of the rights of others. Human rights education should be supported through formal and non-formal education to promote diversity in ways that are age-appropriate and culturally sensitive. Content can be linked with international human rights and humanitarian law and with life skills. Teachers may need support to modify existing materials and teaching methods if textbooks and other materials need revision.
Locally available learning materials for learners should be assessed at the beginning of an emergency. For refugees or those who are displaced, this includes materials from their country or area of origin. Materials should be adapted or developed if necessary and made available in sufficient quantities for all. This includes accessible formats for learners with disabilities. Relevant education authorities should be supported to monitor the storage, distribution and use of materials.
Teachers and other education personnel receive periodic, relevant and structured training according to needs and circumstances.
Training includes knowledge and skills for formal and non-formal curricula, including hazard awareness, disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention
See Guidance Notes:
‘Teacher’ refers to instructors, facilitators or animators in formal and non-formal education programmes. Teachers may have different experience and training. They may be older learners or community members.
The development of formal training curricula and content is the responsibility of education authorities. Curricula and content should reflect the needs and rights of learners and the particular needs of education personnel in the context within budget and time constraints.
Training content may include:
- core subject knowledge, such as literacy, numeracy and life skills appropriate to the context, including health education;
- pedagogy and teaching methodologies, including positive discipline and classroom management, participatory approaches and inclusive education;
- codes of conduct for teachers and other education personnel, including condemnation of gender-based violence against learners and appropriate report and referral mechanisms;
- disaster risk reduction and conflict prevention principles;
- psychosocial development and support, including both learners’ and teachers’ needs and the availability of local services and referral systems;
- human rights principles and perspectives and humanitarian law, to understand their meaning and intention and their direct and indirect connection with learners’ needs and the responsibilities of learners, teachers, communities and education authorities;
- other content appropriate to the context.
Training initiatives should include how to address issues of diversity and discrimination. For instance, gender-sensitive teaching strategies encourage teachers of both sexes to understand and commit to gender equity in classrooms. Training of female education personnel and community members can reinforce positive changes in the classroom and the broader community.
Whenever possible, education authorities should take the lead in the design and implementation of formal and non-formal teacher training activities. When education authorities are unable to lead this process, an inter-agency coordination committee can provide guidance and coordination. Training plans should include in-service training and, where necessary, the revitalisation of teacher training institutions and university education facilities. These institutions play a vital role in rebuilding a sustainable education sector.
National education authorities and other relevant stakeholders should start a dialogue about curricula for in-service teacher training and mechanisms for its recognition at the beginning of an emergency response. Where possible, in-service training should be designed to fulfil national requirements for qualified teacher status. Additional elements relevant to the emergency, such as meeting psychosocial needs, should be also incorporated. Where refugee school systems are separate from the local education system, the in-service training of refugee teachers should build towards qualified teacher status in the country of origin or asylum.
Local trainers should be identified to develop and implement appropriate training for teachers. Capacity building of their facilitation and training skills may be needed. A balance of male and female trainers and trainees should be promoted. Where limited numbers of trainers are available, or they are inadequately trained, institutions providing in-service and pre-service teacher training may be strengthened. This should be a coordinated effort by national and regional institutions and external agencies such as UN agencies and NGOs. It may include:
- review of the teacher training curriculum and textbooks;
- inclusion of updated and emergency-related content;
- provision of practical teaching experience, such as serving as teaching assistants or interns.
Approval and accreditation by education authorities are crucial to ensure quality and recognition of teacher training in the emergency through to recovery. For refugee teachers, education authorities in the host or home country or area should determine whether the training is acceptable and adapted to the needs of learners and teachers.
Teachers should be trained on how to identify needs for specific teaching aids based on the curriculum. They should learn how to create effective and appropriate teaching aids using locally available materials.
Teachers need skills and knowledge to help learners and the community to prevent and mitigate future disasters. They may need support to integrate the promotion of risk reduction and conflict prevention into teaching and learning. This includes information and skills needed to identify, prevent and respond to potential hazards and disasters faced by communities.
Instruction and learning processes are learner-centred, participatory and inclusive.
Instruction and learning processes address the needs of all learners, including those with disabilities, by promoting inclusiveness and reducing barriers to learning
Parents and community leaders understand and accept the learning content and teaching methods used
Learners’ active engagement is important at every developmental and age level. Teaching should be interactive and participatory, ensuring that all learners are involved in the lesson. It makes use of developmentally appropriate teaching and learning methods. This may involve group work, project work, peer education, role-play, telling stories or describing events, games, videos or stories. These methods should be incorporated into teacher training, school textbooks and training programmes. Existing curricula may need to be adapted to accommodate active learning.
Young children learn through play. Their learning should be based on active play and interaction. Guided play may build skills and relationships with both peers and teachers. Parents and primary care-givers of very young children should be supported to understand and apply:
- the importance of being responsive and sensitive to the needs of the children;
- ways to care for younger children;
- play methods that actively engage children in the learning process and promote their development.
Teachers should be supported to talk with parents, community members, education authorities and other relevant stakeholders about the importance of formal and non-formal education activities in emergency settings. They may discuss issues of rights, diversity and inclusion and the importance of reaching out to children and young people who are not taking part in education activities. These discussions are important to ensure that people understand and support the inclusion of all children and the provision of appropriate resource materials and facilities. Groups such as parent- teacher associations, school management and community education committees may be mobilised to help identify barriers to learning and to develop plans to address them at the community level.
Education in emergencies through to recovery should o er teachers in a formal education setting an opportunity for positive change. Teaching methods may be changed to be adaptable and acceptable to the context and should address the rights, needs, age, disabilities and capacities of learners. However, more participatory or learner-friendly teaching methods should be introduced with care and sensitivity. Implementation of new methodologies, particularly during the initial stages of an emergency, may be stressful even for experienced teachers. This may also affect learners, parents and community members.
Changes should be introduced with the approval, coordination and support of education authorities. It may take time for the school and the community to understand and accept these changes. It is important to ensure that the concerns of parents and other community members are addressed. Teachers need to be familiar with new content and with changes expected in their awareness and behaviour.
For non-formal education interventions, learner-centred approaches may be introduced through the training and continued support of volunteers, animators, facilitators and care-givers. Methodologies should be appropriate to the curriculum, addressing core competencies of basic education including literacy, numeracy and life skills relevant to the emergency context.
Appropriate methods are used to evaluate and validate learning outcomes.
Continuous assessment and evaluation of learners’ progress towards established objectives inform teaching methods
See Guidance Notes:
Learners’ achievement is recognised and credits or course completion documents are provided accordingly
Graduates of technical and vocational programmes are assessed to gauge the quality and relevance of the programmes against the changing environment
Assessment and evaluation methods are considered fair, reliable and non-threatening to learners
Assessments are relevant to learners’ future educational and economic needs
See Guidance Notes:
Effective assessment and evaluation methods and measures should be introduced and should consider the following:
- Relevance: tests and examinations are appropriate to the learning context and the age of learners;
- Consistency: evaluation methods are known and applied in a similar way at all locations and by all teachers;
- Opportunity: absent learners are offered another chance for assessment;
- Timing: assessment occurs during and at the end of instruction;
- Frequency: this may be affected by the emergency;
- Safe and appropriate setting: formal assessments are conducted in a safe place by education personnel;
- Transparency: assessment results are shared and discussed with learners and, in the case of children, their parents. External examiners are available for key stages of assessment where possible and appropriate;
- Accommodation of learners with disabilities: longer time is allocated, and skills and understanding are demonstrated through appropriate alternative means.
In formal education programmes, assessment is conducted so that learners’ achievements and examination results can be recognised by the education authorities. For refugees, efforts should be made to obtain recognition by the education authorities in the country or area of origin. For technical and vocational education and training, training service providers should ensure compliance with national certification standards. Course completion documents may include diplomas and graduation certificates.
Assessment and evaluation should be developed and implemented according to a code of ethics. This means they should be fair, reliable and conducted in a way that does not increase fear or cause distress. Learners should not be harassed in return for good marks or promotions within a school or programme. To help ensure that these conditions are met, monitoring, including spot- checking by supervisors and community members, may be helpful.
The content of assessments and the processes used should be directly linked to the materials that have been taught. Learning objectives and benchmarks should be identified from the curriculum. When possible, assessments should be modified to reflect materials taught rather than a standard curriculum, thereby reflecting actual learning rather than gaps in teaching.
Teachers and other education personnel should employ appropriate and easily used assessment tools and methods. Guidance and training in the use of assessment tools will enhance effectiveness. Community members may assist with assessment of learning progress and effectiveness of teaching. This may be particularly beneficial in large or multi-grade classes, or when learners need more individual attention.