The EU aims to help children affected by humanitarian crises to have access to safe, quality and accredited primary and secondary education. Education in emergencies projects focus on helping children who are out of school back into education. They also ensure their retention through various formal and non-formal education pathways. As the quality of education greatly depends on teachers, EU action supports teachers with different types of training, coaching, and protection actions. In emergencies, education actions go hand in hand with protection, providing safe and healing learning spaces and, where needed, links to specialised child protection services. Over 65% of EU-funded education in emergencies actions have integrated protection elements. The EU is increasingly focusing on the protection of education from attack and the rollout of the Safe Schools Declaration. Every EU action takes into account the different needs of children based on their age, gender and other specific circumstances.
Some 127 million primary and secondary school-age children and young people living in crisis-affected countries were out of school in 2019. Among refugee children, only 77% have been enrolled in primary school and 31% in secondary school.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the negative trends and provoked a worldwide education crisis. The most vulnerable are facing the dire consequences, deprived of access to remote learning policies. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 24 million children are projected to drop out of school due to COVID-19.
Education is crucial to give every child a better future and develop its full potential. It equips children with skills, provide them with protection and restore their sense of normality and safety. It helps children to be self-sufficient and to have more influence on issues that affect them. Education is also one of the best tools to invest in the peace, stability and economic growth of their countries. Yet it is one of the most underfunded areas of humanitarian aid: only around 3% of global humanitarian funding is allocated to education.
The EU is one of the top donors and policy shapers in the field of education globally. By making education in emergencies a part of its humanitarian response, and linked closely with development cooperation, the EU makes full use of its humanitarian and development funding instruments to support children affected by crises. The following priorities help the EU support the continuity of quality education in crisis contexts:
1) partnerships for a rapid, efficient, effective and innovative education response
2) promoting access, inclusion and equity
3) championing education for peace and protection
4) supporting quality education for better learning outcomes.
They are set out in the European Commission’s Communication on Education in Emergencies and Protracted Crises of May 2018, endorsed by EU Member States in Council Conclusions in November 2018. In March 2019, the Commission published its guidance document on Education in Emergencies in EU-funded Humanitarian Aid Operations.
The total amount spent on education in emergencies reached €600 million between 2015 and 2020.
The share of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid budget allocated to education in emergencies has substantially increased in the last years (starting from 1% in 2015) and is maintained at 10% of the humanitarian aid budget as of 2019.
Over 9.5 million girls and boys in 59 countries around the world have benefited from EU-funded educational projects between 2015 and 2020. The Commission's funding is delivered through its humanitarian implementing partners, notably NGOs, United Nations agencies, and international organisations carrying out humanitarian projects.
The EU supports a variety of education in emergencies actions, with over half of them promoting education for girls. The EU has supported children and teachers in both formal and non-formal education, including through accelerated education programmes that condense several years of curriculum to help children reach the grade corresponding to their age faster. The projects focus on children living in host communities (65%), internally displaced children (55%) and refugee children (50%).
Common activities of EU-supported actions include:
EU-funded actions also support parent-teacher associations, community-based school management, student/children clubs, as well as peer-to-peer training and activities. About one-fifth of all actions include innovative solutions for students and/or teachers.