Key Issues

Roles and Responsibilities

The Camp Management Agency has a core responsibility to hold education providers accountable and to ensure the provision of quality and inclusive education for the displaced population. The Camp Management Agency should take on the following roles and responsibilities to facilitate educational provision:

  • Ensure that education is included in early multi-sector needs assessments, even if an education service provider is yet to be identified. The Camp Management Agency should ensure representation of key stakeholders in the assessment process and provide support to ensure that assessment questions are of quality, age and gender disaggregated and reflect key issues such as protection, inclusion and relevance of education services.
  • Quickly identify, in collaboration with the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster/Sector Lead Agency, an education service provider in the first phases of displacement. The education agency will normally assume the major responsibility for formalising agreements with national authorities and education ministries and institutions.


Different Actors for Different Education Components

In some situations it may be expedient, and/or necessary due to capacity constraints, to identify different agencies to manage different components of an education programme. For example, one agency might be identified to establish and run learning spaces, where another agency with relevant experience might take on teacher training initiatives. A further one might provide teaching and learning materials. Conversely one provider might lead on early childhood and primary provision, where another agency will focus on secondary education.


  • Facilitate coordination at camp level so that all initiatives by education actors, including national authorities and affected communities, are well functioning, effective and do not duplicate or discriminate. This is especially important if education is provided by multiple agencies in which case formation of a Camp Education Coordination Committee or other formalised coordination group is recommended.
  • Hold education providers accountable if education services do not meet internationally and locally agreed standards. Working with service providers, the community, and national authorities, define standards for the camp context based on the INEE Minimum Standards framework.
  • Work with all education stakeholders to agree on a set of indicators and gather baseline data to measure access, protection, safety and learning outcomes, and ensure that agreed standards are met.
  • Facilitate coordination so that all education programmes are well functioning, effective, and do not duplicate or discriminate.
  • Oversee the development of an education contingency and preparedness plan that accounts for increases in the camp population and other potential scenarios in the immediate and long term. Advocate for education for the displaced community: if education is not prioritised by the humanitarian community due to misperceptions about its value and urgency, if national authorities are unwilling or unable to accommodate displaced children in host schools, if documentation of previous education is demanded as part of the enrolment process or if attendance fees are being charged.


Child Labour

Steps should be taken to prevent involving children in labour activities, especially the most harmful and hazardous forms and labour that prevents school attendance. This has to be handled sensitively with the community. Access to education often removes pressure for children to become involved in dangerous labour activities.


Coordinating With Key Actors

National Authorities

It is critical that in all phases of an education programme in a camp setting the national education authorities are consulted and included in planning, implementation and monitoring. This ensures education programmes are as integrated as possible into the national system and supports sustainability and capacity development. In particular, the Camp Management Agency should be aware:

  • Ultimately, national authorities in both refugee and IDP contexts are responsible for upholding the right to education for children and youth in their jurisdiction. 
  • Any education programme should be planned in conjunction with the local education administration and communication and coordination undertaken with the Ministry of Education.
  • Negotiation to allow displaced learners’ access to local schools in the vicinity of the camp should be attempted as soon as possible.
  • Where local schools cannot be accessed, planning of learning spaces within the camp should be done in partnership with the Ministry of Education, especially with a view to eventual camp closure and handover of educational facilities.
  • It is crucial to liaise with national authorities when working on issues such as learner certification and teacher training and accreditation.
  • Including local education officials, head teachers and teachers in training opportunities offered by education service providers within the camp can be an excellent opportunity to develop national education capacity, strengthen relations with national authorities and benefit the host community.

Affected Communities

For an education programme to be effective, inclusive community participation is essential. Here are some key strategies for working with and building upon the resources and knowledge available within the displaced community:

  • The Camp Management Agency should work with national authorities and the education service providers to ensure that the community is engaged in determining the education needs of all learners, highlighting security issues and identifying locally available financial, material and human resources.
  • Often displaced communities may already have organised educational activities prior to the arrival of external actors. Such efforts should be learnt from and built upon if at all possible. Capacities of the community should be identified and strengthened.
  • Communities should be supported to establish Community Education Committees, sometimes known as Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) or School Management Committees (SMC), that can take a leadership role in managing education in camp situations.
  • These committees can be an excellent resource for education programmes, ensuring that schools are safe and inclusive.
  • The Camp Management Agency should ensure that the gender balance and inclusion of vulnerable and minority groups is considered, including the identification and support of children with disabilities. The community is the Camp Management Agency’s best resource for ensuring gender-responsive and inclusive education.
  • Children and youth have a right to be heard in matters that affect their lives and should be invited to participate in educational planning and monitoring. Often children will know best who is not in school and what can be done to help everyone access education.
  • Camp Management Agencies should ensure that communication with affected communities about the current and future plans for educational provision are clearly and systematically explained through information campaigns.

Education Clusters

Education Clusters are often activated in large scale or protracted emergencies. If an Education Cluster is activated, the Camp Management Agency or a designated representative from the camp education coordination group should coordinate closely:

  • The Education Cluster at local and national levels will often be an excellent resource of information and technical support for the Camp Management Agency and education service providers.
  • Education Cluster Coordinators support identification of service providers and provide basic information about the education system and contacts with the Ministry of Education and other national authorities.
  • The Education Cluster has responsibility for developing education preparedness and contingency documents. The Camp Management Agency should refer to these documents as relevant.
  • The Education Cluster will also be able to advise the Camp Management Agency and education service providers on supply issues, such as information about United Nations Children's Fund's (UNICEF's) School in a Box, school tents, and other locally and internationally procured materials that might be necessary to establish safe learning spaces quickly.
  • The Education Cluster manages funding for the education sector in many large scale and protracted emergencies, and can be a key body for advocating for the right to education for displaced children and other related policy issues with national authorities and within the humanitarian community.

☞ For more information on the roles and responsibilities of a Camp Management Agency, see Chapter 2, Roles and Responsibilities.

☞ For more information on information management, see Chapter 5, Information Management.


Cross-sectoral Coordination

Education serves as a key entry point for several other sectors and there are many cross-sectoral linkages to be made. In its supportive role to the education provider, and as part of their coordination role, the Camp Management Agency should be aware of some of the linkages between education and other sectors in order to ensure the overall effectiveness and quality of education programmes for displaced communities


  • Work with health service providers or local clinics to provide health information and, when appropriate, treatment for children and teachers in learning spaces.
  • Hold vaccination campaigns at learning spaces to ensure maximum coverage.
  • When health services cannot be provided at schools, work with health providers to ensure learners and teachers are referred promptly to clinics or psychosocial support services so they miss as little schooling as possible.

Food and Non-food Items (NFI) Distribution

  • Establish a way for teachers to receive their food rations after school hours or in a way that will not interfere with their responsibilities at school.
  • Ensure that distributions are not disrupting learning for children, who may leave to help families carry goods or to demonstrate family size.
  • Establish school-feeding programmes as a way to reduce drop-out rates and increase participation of underserved groups. Some research studies suggest that school feeding programmes persuade parents to enroll their children, especially girls, who would otherwise not attend at all. The Camp Management Agency could consider coordination with the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide high energy biscuits until a school-feeding programme can be established.

Water and Sanitation

  • Construction of water and separate latrines for boys, girls and teachers is essential even in temporary learning spaces.
  • Good hygiene messages can be established and taught in schools, especially hand washing with soap after toilet use. Soap should be available at each hand washing and latrine site.
  • Schools can also teach good sanitation practices such as cleaning classrooms and the school environment, which can have an important impact on moral and impact on wider camp sanitation.


  • Shelter specialists can be consulted on location of learning spaces to ensure appropriate and safe sites are selected, considering issues such as drainage.
  • Shelter colleagues can also advise on safe construction practices to ensure learning facilities are child-friendly and weatherproof.


  • Protection actors can work within schools to ensure they are safe spaces and train teachers on key child protection principles.
  • Learning spaces can also be places where protection staff can identify children, including those absent, at risk of various protection concerns and make referrals to relevant social, health or legal services.


Learning Environment

Phases of an Education Response

To ensure access to education from the earliest stages of displacement, it is important for Camp Management Agencies to be aware that education does not have to immediately comprise uniformed children learning a formal curriculum in a school building. In the first phase of an emergency, non-formal safe learning spaces and recreational activities are established as quickly as possible. This can be as simple as a temporary shelter made from local materials and supervised by trusted volunteers from the affected community. Key messages can be transmitted, reassurance provided and children will be safe and protected while their parents are often busy establishing themselves, building shelter, registering or collecting food and NFIs.

Ideally, where the displaced population shares a language with the host community, learners living in camps should be admitted into local schools as soon as possible. This can happen as part of a first phase response, if possible, but it may take longer to negotiate access with education authorities. If conditions in local schools are crowded, it may be necessary to operate several shifts a day and to extend buildings with additional temporary classrooms.


Improvements to Schools

When displaced children are integrated into local schools, efforts should be made to improve schools in order to properly accommodate displaced learners and bring schools up to internationally agreed standards. This might include expanding and/ or upgrading water and latrine facilities or rehabilitating infrastructure. Provision of materials such as pencils and exercise books are also often appropriate. This will not only ensure a better quality of education for all learners, but could mitigate potential tension between host and displaced communities that overcrowded poor conditions may cause.


Where integration into local schools is not feasible, once service providers are established and operating, phase two should see safe learning spaces transitioning to more formal education activities, with a focus on minimum literacy and numeracy and key life skills messages. In the third phase, the Camp Management Agency should work to ensure the full resumption of formal schooling that is relevant and recognised by home and/or host governments, considering language and certification issues.


Education and Camp Closure

Although not immediately evident, it is important for Camp Management Agencies to consider a range of issues relating to camp closure at the outset of an education programme:

  • The Camp Management Agency must plan for phaseout and closure from the outset of an operation. Education facilities and services should be included in any planning documents.
  • Actors must consider how provision of services and infrastructure will benefit host communities after the displaced population has returned should be planned for, and agreed with, all stakeholders from the outset.
  • Early consideration should be given to the capacities of national education authorities and, if necessary, training and capacity development undertaken to ensure they are able to take on the management of camp education facilities. This further highlights the importance of working with national education authorities at all stages of a camp's life cycle.
  • Education facilities should be handed over in good working order.
  • Schools and Community Education Committees or PTA should be involved in participatory discussions about camp closures and return. They can also serve to share information and help prepare children, their families and the wider community for the closure.
  • Children, like adults, should have the opportunity to raise questions and express their aspirations and insecurities about return. Learning spaces can provide an excellent space for these discussions.
  • Education must be an integral part of any durable solution found for displaced people. Camp Management Agencies and other humanitarian actors should establish partnerships to support the establishment or rehabilitation of education services in areas of return.
  • In cases of repatriation of refugees, education, certification and teacher accreditation issues should be included in tripartite agreements.
  • Certification of learning achievements is a critical element of camp closure for learners. The Camp Management Agency must ensure that education service providers supply all students with leaving or completion certificates in a format that will be recognised in their area of return. Working to ensure certification will be recognised by national authorities should begin at the outset of education programming.
  • Documentation and certification of training undertaken by teachers must also be provided and recognition of teaching accreditation by national authorities negotiated.

☞ For more information on camp closure, see also Chapter 7, Camp Set-up and Closure.


Voice From the Field - Planning for Closure

When Aisha Camp in Ethiopia was officially closed after the last Somali residents returned home in 2005, the camp school was formally handed over in good condition to the national authorities by the Camp Management Agency. However, the local administration and elders requested the agency to help run the facilities for an interim period until the local government developed management capacity. This request could unfortunately not be granted as the camp was already closed and the Camp Management Agency was ceasing local operations. This experience highlights the need to work with national authorities throughout a camp operation and to ensure local capacities are developed with the perspective of eventual camp closure.


Equal Access

Whether a learning space is accessed in the camp or in the host community, some key issues relating to equal access for all children and youth need to be addressed by education providers and monitored by Camp Management Agencies:

  • In situations of displacement, girls and boys, young women and young men, experience different protection risks and face different barriers to accessing education. Needs assessments should include gender analysis to determine the different needs of boys and girls. All education stakeholders should plan programmes that aim to meet those needs.
  • Other inclusion issues must also be analysed and addressed in assessments, implementation and monitoring. Children with disabilities, and members of other vulnerable groups such as orphans, child-headed households, young mothers or children associated with fighting forces can all face discrimination and challenges in realising their right to education.
  • Often displaced learners will not have documents such as grade completion certificates, report cards or ID cards, which are sometimes required for school enrolment or exams. Working with national authorities, the Camp Management Agency must ensure that lack of documentation does not prevent access to education.
  • Other barriers to education might include issues such as language of instruction, school fees, uniforms, gender, religious or ethnic background or distance to travel between home and school. The Camp Management Agency should work with education providers, the community and national authorities to address these issues.
  • Regular disaggregated monitoring of attendance and completion rates and numbers of out-of-school children and youth should be undertaken in order to identify barriers to education and any associated protection concerns. Camp Management Agencies should request this data from education providers, monitor trends and follow-up as necessary to ensure issues relating to inclusion and equal access are addressed.


Sexual And Gender-based Violence

Having children enrolled in school is an essential protection tool, particularly for those living in camps. However, schools can also bring a higher risk of abuse, particularly for girls. A Camp Management Agency can minimise risk by:

  • developing and publicly posting clear rules against sexual harassment, exploitation, abuse and other forms of gender-based violence, this could be part of a more general teacher code of conduct
  • working with partners to develop a code of conduct for learners and classroom and school rules. These can be a useful protection practice, especially where learners are of mixed ages and genders 
  • encouraging employment of female teachers and female classroom assistants, so that girls have access to contact persons of the same gender
  • setting up camp schools and education facilities in locations where children from all over the camp have easy and safe access
  • providing separate latrine and washing facilities for boys and girls and locating them within the school premises
  • regularly monitoring routes to and from school and encouraging children to walk in groups or with an accompanying adult
  • avoiding overcrowded classrooms and, as far as possible, not mixing different grades and ages in one classroom
  • monitoring the quality of education, including response mechanisms to possible protection threats, for school children, through interviews with children, youth and parents
  • making sure that the behaviour of school staff and learners is closely monitored
  • providing children, youth, teachers and parents with an accessible and confidential complaints reporting procedure and well-coordinated referral systems to offer health, psychosocial, protection and judicial support services.


Learning Environments

Camp Management Agencies have a significant role to play in ensuring that learning spaces are safe and secure for all children and teachers:

  • Choosing the location of learning spaces is critical, and can often make the difference between whether children attend classes or not, particularly for those from vulnerable groups. Learners, parents and other community members should be consulted on the location of learning sites and potential dangers.
  • For security reasons, schools and recreation areas should be relatively centrally located, cleared of surrounding thick bush and at a safe distance from roads used for heavy traffic or areas of the camp, such as distribution sites or markets where there may be violence, disruption or criminal behaviour.
  • Environmental risk factors should also be considered, ensuring learning sites will not experience sewage run- off, flooding or other natural hazards.
  • Considering the distance learners will need to travel to the learning sites is important, particularly for members of vulnerable groups or children with mobility issues. Access routes as well as the location itself should also be analysed, with a view to ensuring that learners do not have to walk through areas that pose protection risks.
  • Camp Management Agencies should work with WASH and education service providers to plan for the provision of water supplies, separate latrines for boys, girls and teachers, hand-washing facilities and areas for rubbish disposal.
  • Building school recreational areas, kitchen and feeding centres or fencing may not be part of early construction priorities, but should be planned for and established as soon as possible.
  • National authorities often have complex guidelines for school construction and furnishing. If possible, while adhering to international standards, keeping camp school facilities on a par with well-supported area schools will cause less tension with the host community and be easier to maintain. Using locally available materials or sourcing furniture locally is recommended. When purchasing local materials, environmental issues should be considered. Larger camp operations usually have a negative impact on tree density in the surrounding area.


Learning Spaces Tips

Learning spaces should be marked or fenced. Latrines and water facilities should not be used by people other than the learners and teachers. A lack of sanitation facilities and safety measures at learning sites may cause children to drop out, particularly girls.


Voice From the Field - Location, Location, Location

The importance of the location of a learning space in a camp is crucial. For example, in Za'atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, opened in 2012 to accommodate Syrians fleeing the war, the first school tents were established next to a food distribution centre. Learners explained that this created problems for them as there has been a lot of contention around the distribution centre, which led to the use of tear gas and other tensions. Children did not feel safe at school or in the surrounding area, as they were potentially in danger of being caught up in violent situations. As a result of concerns raised by learners, the school was moved to a different location inside the camp, improving access and reducing protection risks.


How Camp Education Programmes Can Support Host Community Schools

In well-assisted camps, the education system may receive greater support and attention from humanitarian organisations than the school system of the host community receives from its government. In these situations, the education provider together with the Camp Management Agency should seek to cooperate with local schools near the camp and help local children to benefit from camp educational programming. Good approaches to create constructive links between camp and local education systems are:

  • include local teachers in camp teacher training sessions
  • design joint education and recreational initiatives for both displaced and local children/youth, in cooperation with the local education administration
  • provide teaching and learning supplies such as chalk, pencils and exercise books to local schools. This can also lessen the chances of camp supplies being sold.


Collective Centres in Education Facilities

School buildings should not be used as collective centres. As part of emergency preparedness measures, prior identification of alternative locations to be used as shelters should be undertaken to ensure that schools are only used as a last resort.

Where using schools as shelters is unavoidable, the Collective Centre Management Agency can work with national authorities and the community to minimise the negative impact of using learning spaces as shelters:

  • Avoid the dual use of a building for education and shelter. Where a school is being used as a collective centre, an alternative site for the school must be quickly identified. The reduction or cancellation of education as a result of displacement is not acceptable and must be avoided.
  • Under no circumstances should schools or other education facilities be appropriated as administrative offices for Collective Centre Management Agency staff or national authorities.
  • There must be a clear separation between the rooms used for education and those used for shelter, as well as for water and sanitation facilities.
  • The coexistence of education and shelter can result in new and serious protection risks for children and youth. Identifying and managing these risks is important.
  • School property must be protected so that it is not damaged during the use of the building as a collective centre. Moving libraries, files, laboratory materials, desks and chairs into a secure place designated for storage will avoid potential destruction.
  • Where possible, the education community should be involved in the administration of a school used as a collective centre. Education actors can work with the Collective Centre Management Agency to provide activities to improve the well-being of centre residents. Such activities can be psychosocially beneficial for both host and displaced communities.
  • Finding a way to compensate the education community with tangible benefits will help to mitigate bad feelings and potential conflict. Collective Centre Management Agencies should take opportunities to improve the school building or surrounding areas before they are returned to the education authorities. This may involve extending and improving sanitary provision, reinforcing structures or improving recreation areas.
  • Deadlines for returning the educational establishment to its original function must be established at the outset and fulfilled as far as possible. Efforts should be made to prevent entire families from living indefinitely in the school long after the crisis occurred.
  • At no time should a forcible eviction take place.

Adapted from Collective Centre Guidelines (CCCM Cluster, 2010), p. 108-9.


Teaching and Learning

During Acute Emergencies - Keeping It Simple, Safe and Supportive

Relevance is a key concept for education in situations of displacement. Relevance of learning content and curricula is highlighted because of the need to teach critical, sometimes lifesaving, skills.

During an acute emergency phase, a formal curriculum is usually not followed and the content of learning can include only the most simple key messages to keep children safe and reassure them. Displaced children will often be unfamiliar with their surroundings, and unaware of new dangers and risks. Messages might include:

  • how to avoid new dangers such as a fast-flowing river or landmines
  • what to do if further natural hazards occur
  • how to practice good hygiene by washing hands with soap after toilet use
  • how to protect oneself from sexual abuse and how to report protection concerns
  • how to access health care and food
  • conflict management skills
  • problem solving and coping skills.

Providing psychosocial support, through opportunities for children to play with peers and, if comfortable, to discuss fears, questions about displacement, future plans or past experiences can also be a very valuable component of a quality education response, particularly in the early phases of an emergency response.

Current guidance, outlined in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, warns that it is not helpful to over-medicalise the experiences of children in humanitarian situations. It emphasises that the vast majority of children and youth are extremely resilient and can recover from difficult experiences if they are supported, with access to basic services that provide stability and routine, such as education. Only a very small number will experience ongoing severe distress and may need to be referred to health professionals. It is important for teacher training to include guidance on how to recognise children who need further help and provide information about referrals.

Over time, a more formal curriculum is gradually adopted with greater concentration on academic subjects such as literacy and numeracy. At this stage, it is important for Camp Management Agencies to be aware of some of the complex and critical issues that surround more formal schooling during displacement.


Student/Teacher Ratio

For refugee schools, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recommends one teacher for every 40 pupils. The INEE Minimum Standards recommend that this standard is defined locally, based on realistic limits on class size which will allow the inclusion of all children and youth, including those with disabilities.


Forward Planning - Considering Curriculum, Language and Certification

When possible and appropriate, providing education programmes for children according to the host country’s curriculum is generally recommended. There should be community consultation and careful consideration on the issue of curriculum and language of instruction at all stages. Where feasible, displaced children should be integrated into the national education system, in host community schools. If necessary, additional language support or other catch-up classes should be considered to ensure that all displaced children can fully integrate into surrounding schools.

Providing appropriate education can be particularly challenging in refugee situations and where displaced children cannot be integrated into the local school system. Where integration is not possible, displaced children should receive formal education within camp schools. It is recommended that in most cases the camp schools follow the curriculum of local host community schools. The support and collaboration of national authorities should be sought within camp schools in order to facilitate integration of learners and teachers into the national system in the long term.

The curriculum used should be reviewed to ensure, insofar as possible, that it incorporates considerations of gender equity, special needs, psychosocial support and peace education. In some situations, education has helped to fuel conflict by supporting the mutually exclusive historical narratives of groups in conflict or by portraying certain groups in a discriminatory fashion. It will therefore be important to ensure that the curriculum contributes to, rather than undermines, social cohesion.

The curriculum may need to be adjusted when bridging courses or accelerated learning programmes are used in order to compensate for the disruption to education. All too often, conflict and displacement will result in the presence of numerous over-age students who have been out-of-school for many years and who will require support to catch up with their peers. Where there are a large number of over-age students, it is recommended to establish a separate youth education or accelerated learning programme, rather than try to integrate youth into primary school classrooms with younger children. It may be appropriate to establish a school year according to the relevant school calendar, organise catch-up classes during holidays or, if needed, set aside a separate academic period as a catch-up year.


Documentation Should Not Be a Barrier

Camp Management Agencies and education providers should work with national authorities to ensure that documentation is not a barrier to entering or completing education. Sometime displaced children can be refused access to schools or final exams because they are not able to provide recognised identity cards or certificates of prior educational attainment.


Particular efforts may also be required to ensure learners receive certification of their achievements. For refugees and IDPs, certification may be a particular concern at the end of primary or secondary schooling. Additionally, if displacement or repatriation/return occurs in the middle of an academic year, refugees, IDPs and returnees face the challenges of documenting their incomplete year and having it acknowledged. Certification of learning is essential for displaced learners as it facilitates effective reintegration into the education system or job market in the home or host communities.

Recognition of learning certificates by national authorities is often a further challenge, and work should be done with the relevant authorities to ensure that the certificates received by displaced learners will be recognised. This will usually involve work at the policy level with national education ministries in the host and home countries. Partnerships with other education actors, such as UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Education Cluster/Sector Lead Agency and teachers' unions, should be encouraged.

Post Primary, Secondary Education and Youth Initiatives


Voice From the Field - “if They Don’t Have Schools, They Need to Marry at 12 or 13”

The absence of secondary education in the camp was identified in multiple groups as a major concern for women, particularly adolescent girls. While secondary schools were established in another refugee camp elsewhere in Unity State, families report that they prefer to send male, but not female, children due to cultural and safety concerns. Girls report that the lack of readily-available education for girls makes families more inclined to marry their daughters at an earlier age to minimise the burden they place on their families. One woman reported, “if they don’t have schools, they need to marry at 12 or 13.” This risk factor was confirmed by key informants, particularly those working with adolescent girls.

A Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence Rapid Assessment, Yida Refugee Camp, South Sudan, February 2012, International Rescue Committee (IRC).


Youth programmes are critical for young people and their communities. It is essential to offer youth a meaningful learning environment with access to formal and non-formal education, numeracy skills and vocational training. The Camp Management Agency should be proactive in advocating for the establishment of education and training facilities for those above the age of 12 such as secondary schools, vocational training centres and sports clubs.

Programmes should take account of the varying needs of young people of different ages and genders. Camp Management Agencies should ensure that service providers engage learners in an ongoing process to identify and address constraints to accessing education. Specific programmes for girls should include, where applicable, reproductive health services, pre and post-natal care, parenting support, life skills training and counselling services for gender-based violence.


Youth Programmes

Experience shows that adolescents and youth are often seriously underserved in camps, which can lead to their potential being wasted and their energy being channeled into anti-social activities. In many conflict situations, adolescent boys may be susceptible to recruitment by military forces, while girls are exposed to an increased threat of sexual abuse or forced marriage. Targeted youth programming helps minimise these risks.


Coordination around youth issues is critical. It is recommended that an inter-sectoral approach is taken to assessing and meeting the particular needs of displaced youth in camp contexts.


Voice From the Field - Youth Task Force in Za'atari Camp

In Za’atari Camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, a Youth Task Force has been established with support from the Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence Sector Sub-Working Group and the Education Sector Working Group. The Task Force enhances field level coordination to create safe and enabling environments for youth and to ensure effective youth programming. The Task Force also promotes youth participation in planning, designing and implementing both youth and non-youth specific programming.


The crucial element of youth participation is often ignored in programming, even in programmes targeting youth. In displacement situations around the world, youth are essential actors and key agents of change in emergency response and recovery either initiated by them or with the assistance of external actors. In times of crisis, a community’s youth may be its most abundant asset and the Camp Management Agency should consider how to harness youth capacities and support youth initiatives.

Early Childhood Development (ECD)

Ensuring that young children have appropriate and adequate learning and development opportunities is crucial to their future academic and general well-being. Among other benefits, holistic ECD programmes and activities can help young children:

  • access important inter-sectoral services such as healthcare, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and psychosocial support
  • learn and play in a safe and protected environment
  • develop new skills, including social skills
  • prepare for formal education as well as increase their future academic performance and retention.

For young children, learning occurs all the time and should be maximised through creative learning spaces for movement and play, both at home and within the community. Within a camp, child development centres which provide early learning activities through play can integrate essential services such as health care, nutritious meals, availability of clean water, latrines, and adopt child-safety initiatives. Along with providing young children the opportunity to learn and socialise with peers and caregivers, secure learning spaces also provide children with a sense of routine and protection from physical harm.

Early childhood care can also support girls’ enrolment and attendance in schools. Setting up a day-care facility on or near school grounds frees up time for education, particularly for adolescent girls, that might otherwise be devoted to caring for younger siblings.

The Camp Management Agency should apply an early childhood lens to ensure young children’s needs are addressed by various sectors, including education, in integrated ways, and are put into place right from the start of a child’s life and right from the start of a displacement. Often child protection agencies set up child-friendly spaces for both physical and psychosocial protection. Therefore the Camp Management Agency must encourage cooperation between education and child protection actors.


Voices From the Field - Baby Tents

Several agencies provided baby tents in earthquake affected areas and camps after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Local facilitators were trained in early child development, hygiene promotion, breast-feeding and good nutrition. They facilitated mother and babygroups in well ventilated tents which were equipped with UNICEF Early Child Development kits and designed to provide a safe, clean space for mothers and babies attending the nutritional support programme to play together, while learning about good nutrition and infant stimulation.


Adult Education

Often in camp situations, a percentage of the adult population is non-literate. Women may have been left behind in the education system prior to displacement. The Camp Management Agency should be aware that child and adult learners need different approaches. Adult learning programmes require specific methodologies and techniques that are best implemented by specialised humanitarian agencies or government institutions. If basic literacy and numeracy classes for adults are established, it is recommended that topics also include:

  • human rights
  • hygiene and sanitation
  • gender awareness
  • peace building
  • environment awareness
  • sexual and reproductive health.

Both literacy and numeracy materials are available in many languages and countries, and can often be ordered. Special consideration should be given to the time of day each class is offered to accommodate the schedules of women. Offering accompanying childcare assistance may facilitate participation.


Teachers and Other Education Personnel

Identification and Compensation

Generally, camp teachers and other education personnel, such as school administrators or vocational trainers, should be recruited from the displaced population. Teachers speaking the mother-tongue(s) of learners should be recruited whenever possible. Special efforts should be made to recruit female teachers in order to provide role models to encourage girls’ enrolment and attainment.

When feasible, the Camp Management Agency should consider identifying qualified teachers during the registration process of the camp population. They should note what level of experience teachers have, their own level of educational attainment, the languages they speak and their gender. Further identification or assessments can also be done through formal announcements and job advertisements. Recruitment and selection of teachers should be non-discriminatory, participatory and transparent. Although often not possible in the first phase of an emergency, it is recommended to evaluate teacher candidates’ capacity and ability through classroom observation and a short interview prior to having them commence work, even if they have diplomas and documentation.


Make Teaching More Attractive

Within a displaced community, teachers are often amongst the most educated people and may therefore be well regarded and listened to. Humanitarian organisations working in the camp may therefore wish to employ them for jobs in other sectors or administration. Where school teachers cannot be paid with regular salaries, they should at least receive some incentives or NFIs to make teaching more attractive. Otherwise, too many teachers may leave the camp school system for other jobs, with serious impacts on its quality and functioning.


If qualified teachers are not available, camp residents with the highest level of basic education should be identified in order for them to be trained to work as teachers. The education provider and the education authorities from the host government should assess whether teachers from outside the camp can be integrated into the camp education system.


Voice From the Field - Innovative Recruitment Strategies

UNICEF Pakistan attracted female teachers – in a context where only female teachers are permitted to teach girls – to teach in a school for IDPs by paying them higher salaries than men. Their male relatives were recruited for other school jobs so that it was considered appropriate for the women to work outside of their homes and communities. This strategy of positive discrimination is context-specific and should not be applied as a blanket policy.


Wherever possible, teachers should be paid or compensated for their work. Not only is their contribution essential for the protection and development of the displaced community’s children but also efforts must be made to ensure they are not forced to look for other paid employment. Ideally, in formal education settings teachers should continue to be paid by the government. This may have to be negotiated, especially in decentralised systems where teachers may have crossed provincial or other administrative jurisdictions. How, when, and how much teachers are compensated needs to be part of a coordinated and agreed cross-sectoral approach to issues of payment and compensation. Discussions with the national education authorities and the Education Cluster on issues of teacher compensation is key, to ensure displaced teachers can be formally recognised in their teaching role in the camp setting or at nearby schools.


Monitor Payment of Salaries

The Camp Management Agency should be aware of the potential for corruption around the payment of teacher’s salaries. They should ensure that education service providers carry out regular monitoring and checks to ensure that there are no ‘ghost’ teachers or unsanctioned or inappropriate people on the camp school payrolls.


Incentives for new/volunteer teachers should be broadly in line with other camp work programmes so that teachers are not pulled away from the profession. Alternative schemes such as regular training that includes an incentive or food baskets/ NFIs can also be utilised if the salary option is not immediately available. Communities can also be encouraged, and are often willing, to contribute in-kind to teachers’ remuneration compensation, through, for example, volunteering the labour necessary to cultivate the teacher’s garden on their behalf.

Teacher Training and Support

In many camp situations, it is challenging to identify a sufficient number of qualified teachers, so including capable volunteers with no official qualifications might be necessary. Additional support for untrained teachers such as mentoring or shadowing may be helpful before more formal teacher training is available. Even if teachers are officially qualified, they may benefit from enhancing their capacity and knowledge of:

  • up-to-date learning methodologies on learner-centred teaching that is interactive and participatory
  • managing mixed age and large classes and non-violent classroom management techniques
  • teaching bridging courses or accelerated learning programmes
  • child rights and child protection principles, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
  • psychosocial support concepts and strategies including the importance of play and recreation, teaching using a predictable structure, use of child-friendly teaching methods, teaching of life-skills and information about how and where to refer children in extreme distress
  • key life skills messages such as landmine awareness, HIV/ AIDS prevention, hygiene promotion, hazard awareness, risk reduction, response preparedness and health and nutrition knowledge
  • conflict resolution approaches
  • refresher courses on formal curriculum content.

The Camp Management Agency should liaise with the national authorities and other specialist agencies to ensure that teachers receive appropriate certification and documentation for any training undertaken. In longer-term displacement scenarios, education providers can work with national authorities to strengthen and utilise national teacher training processes and to facilitate the accreditation and recognition of refugee or IDP teachers within the host system.

Even trained and experienced teachers and other education personnel may find themselves overwhelmed by crisis events. They face new challenges and responsibilities and may experience distress. Their ability to cope and provide for learners depends on their own well-being and available support. Camp Management Agencies, working through education providers, can encourage teacher support structures such as regular peer-support focused staff meetings and close monitoring and mentoring systems.

Codes of Conduct

Camps are usually stressful environments for displaced persons, including teachers and other school staff. Inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power may occur frequently. As with all other camp staff, paid and unpaid, a code of conduct must be introduced to all personnel involved in education, whether school directors, teachers, classroom assistants, other support staff, administrators or monitors. The code of conduct should specify mandatory consequences for non-compliance.

As outlined in the INEE Minimum Standards, a code of conduct should set clear standards of behaviour for teachers and other education personnel, with clear consequences if standards are not met. It should include commitments that teachers and other education personnel will:

  • respect, protect and, within their ability, fulfil the education rights of learners
  • maintain high standards of conduct and ethical behaviour
  • actively remove barriers to education to ensure a nondiscriminatory environment in which all learners are accepted
  • maintain a protective, healthy and inclusive learning environment, free from: sexual and other harassment, exploitation of learners for labour or sexual favours, intimidation, abuse, violence and discrimination
  • not teach or encourage knowledge or actions that contradict human rights and non-discrimination principles
  • maintain regular attendance and punctuality.

Codes of conduct must be drawn up in close cooperation with the displaced community, particularly learners and teachers, as well as national education authorities. Agreed codes of conduct should be introduced through proper training, so that everybody involved clearly understands agreed aims, regulations and consequences of non-compliance.