Q&A – EU supports educational projects for children in situations of emergency

What is the situation of children in emergency-affected countries? What is the impact of crises on education?

Children are among the most vulnerable victims during and in the immediate aftermath of crises. They are at high risk of being separated from their families or forcibly displaced. According to the United Nations, around 9.9 million children are currently refugees and an estimated 19 million have been displaced within their own country due to conflict.

Caught up in emergencies, children can be injured or killed, recruited by armed groups or criminal gangs as combatants or as intelligence sources, or used for sexual exploitation and forced labour. They are also frequently victims of landmines and other unexploded ordnances and face greater risk of experiencing gender based violence, early marriage and pregnancy.

In emergencies, schools are often destroyed. Children's education is frequently of poor quality since qualified teachers might be lacking in such circumstances. Education is often disrupted. As many as 37 million children currently living in emergency situations do not have access to any form of education, according to UNICEF. Girls living in conflict-affected countries are 2 and a half times more likely to be out of school than boys.

Out of school, children are missing out on acquiring the necessary skills to build more prosperous futures for themselves and their countries. They also lose a safe place to regain a sense of normalcy, play with their peers, heal psychological trauma and build hope for a better life.


Why does the EU fund educational projects for children in emergencies?

Education is lifesaving. In schools, children can be accounted for and protected from risks. Education is crucial for both the protection and development of girls and boys affected by crises. It can restore a sense of normalcy and safety and provide them with important life skills.

It is also one of the best tools to invest in their long-term future and in the peace, stability and economic growth of their countries. When children do not have access to education, they are unable to contribute to their communities' recovery and are at risk of replicating as adults the violent pattern that they have experienced in their childhood. Education can prevent children, especially in protracted conflict-contexts, from becoming a 'lost generation'.

Furthermore, in schools children can have access to food and to important vital messages on health, nutrition, hygiene and risks prevention, which can be passed on to their families.

For these reasons, when the EU received the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, it decided to dedicate the monetary award (€930,000) to create the EU Children of Peace initiative - and doubled it to €2 million. This is an instrument that supports safe access to quality education and psychosocial support for children in emergencies, while raising awareness of the importance of supporting education in emergency settings. Since then, the Commission has increased the funding for education in emergencies every year.

What kind of Education in Emergencies activities is the EU funding?

The Commission funds humanitarian organisations to enable safe access to quality education for children in emergency situations, such as conflicts, natural disasters, criminal violence or epidemics.

Commission-funded actions range from the improvement of access to pre-school, primary and secondary level education to the provision of school materials and uniforms, the transportation to educational centres, the rehabilitation of damaged schools and the construction of new learning spaces and centres.

The Commission also funds projects facilitating access to non-formal education (accelerated learning programmes), life-skill and vocational training, psychosocial assistance and recreational activities. Humanitarian projects aiming at strengthening the quality aspects of education in emergencies, including the recruitment of qualified teachers and the provision of financial assistance and training to teaching staff can also be funded. Actions aiming at raising awareness among parents, caregivers and community leaders about their children's education are supported too.

EU-funded activities are always tailored to take into account the different needs of children based on their age, gender and other specific circumstances.

What is the global reach of EU education in emergencies projects?

Since 2012, more than 1,519,000 million children have benefited from EU-funded education projects in 26 countries: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela.

The additional €52 million released this year is expected to benefit over 2,330,000minors in 42 countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Pakistan, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Philippines, Somalia, the Republic of South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Ukraine and Yemen.

By the end of 2016, more than 3,800,000 children will have been helped in 46 countries around the world.

New Education in Emergencies projects for 2016 - 2017

The European Commission is funding projects carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and International Organisations to carry out education projects in 2016-2017 to meet the mounting needs of children in emergency contexts who are out of school or risk education disruption. The selected projects and beneficiary countries are:

  • ACTED: Afghanistan, South Sudan Republic
  • Adra: Myanmar
  • Concern Worldwide: Lebanon, Somalia
  • COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale: Chad, Niger
  • Croix Rouge: Armenia, El Salvador, Georgia, Honduras,Madagascar
  • DanChurchAid: Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Danish Refugee Council (DRC): Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Finn Church Aid: South Sudan Republic
  • Handicap International: Syrian Arab Republic
  • HOPE'87: Pakistan
  • International Medical Corps: Cameroon
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC): Ethiopia, Iraq, Mali
  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Mali, Palestinian Territory Occupied
  • Plan International: Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan Republic
  • Save the Children: Central African Republic, Colombia, Ethiopia, Iraq, South Sudan Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen
  • SOS Kinderdorf: Colombia
  • Terre des Hommes: India, Iraq
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM): Philippines
  • The Lutheran World Federation: Djibouti, Kenya
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Sudan Republic, Tanzania
  • Triangle: Central African Republic, Iraq
  • UNICEF: Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan Republic, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine
  • War Child: Democratic Republic of Congo


Humanitarian funding for Education in Emergencies: is the Commission leading by example?

Education in emergencies is one of the most underfunded areas in humanitarian aid worldwide. This is largely due to the fact that other life-saving emergency actions often take priority over education during a crisis. At present, less than 2% of the global humanitarian funding is allocated to education and there is a wide funding gap for this area of €4.3 billion.

Since 2012, the Commission has been scaling up its funding for educational projects for children in emergency areas every year. From an initial €2 million, the EU doubled the funding to €4 million in 2013. In 2014, the funding reached over €6.7 million, including the contributions of €500 000 from Luxembourg and €250 000 from Austria. Last year, €11 million were allocated to educational projects.

During the Oslo Summit on Education for Development that took place on 7 July 2015, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides committed to increasing the funding for this area to 4% of the EU's humanitarian budget by the end of his mandate. Thanks to the support from the European Parliament and EU Member States, the Commission has been able to increase the funding for education in emergencies to 4% already in 2016.

With the €52 million released this year, the total funding allocated for Education in Emergencies has reached €75,724,000 since 2012.

Overall EU support to education in emergencies and protracted crisis

Today's humanitarian aid announcement is part of overall EU support to education in third countries.

To date, €544 million has been allocated to address the educational needs of children affected by the Syrian crises, both inside Syria as well in the neighbouring countries, through various EU instruments as well as the EU Regional (Madad) Trust Fund.

Scholarships from the EU have also been granted through Erasmus Mundus for Syrian students to allow them to attend European Universities, and initiatives to provide Syrian refugees with Higher education opportunities in the region are also in the pipeline.

An estimated €4.7 billion of the EU development aid budget has also been allocated to support quality education and vocational training worldwide for the period 2014-2020.

For more information:

Press release: EU announces extra €52 million in humanitarian aid for education for children in emergencies

Education in Emergencies website

Factsheet on Education in Emergencies

Website of the European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection

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