About Education in Emergencies and Humanitarian Coordination

What is education in emergencies?

Education is a fundamental human right for all people. Education is especially critical for the tens of millions of children and youth affected by conflict and disasters, and yet it is often significantly disrupted in emergency situations.

Education in emergencies comprises learning opportunities for all ages. It encompasses early childhood development, primary, secondary, non-formal, technical, vocational, higher and adult education.

In emergency situations through to recovery, quality education provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection that can sustain and save lives. Every response is different, but the provision of education in emergencies can include the establishment or rehabilitation of learning spaces, essential teacher training, supply of teaching and learning materials and the creation of safe spaces where children can feel safe and play; spending time with friends and learn potentially lifesaving information with a responsible adult.  To learn more about what education in emergencies looks like in practice, visit our Multimedia Resources.

Schools and other learning spaces can act as a critical entry point for the provision of support beyond the education sector such as protection, nutrition, water and sanitation and health services. For more information about inter-sectoral and inter-cluster coordination, please click here.

The INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery is the foundational document for the work of the Education Cluster, and the education in emergencies sector more broadly. The INEE Minimum Standards Handbook contains 19 standards, each with accompanying key actions and guidance notes and is an essential tool for education in emergencies practitioners. For more information about education in emergencies and the INEE Minimum Standards in our Resources section, or visit the INEE website.

What is humanitarian reform?

The humanitarian reform process was prompted by significant changes in humanitarian operations: an ever-increasing number of humanitarian actors, greater competition for funding and resources, increased public scrutiny, and the changing role of the United Nations (UN). This led to an independent review of humanitarian response in 2005, commissioned by the Emergency Relief Coordinator through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) .

Subsequent changes to humanitarian sector operations aim to build a stronger humanitarian response system, with greater predictability, accountability and partnerships.

The changes were an ambitious effort by the international humanitarian community to reach more beneficiaries, with more comprehensive needs-based relief and protection, in a more effective and timely manner. The resulting humanitarian reform agenda addresses four inter-related areas.

  • Humanitarian Leadership
  • Humanitarian Financing
  • Humanitarian Coordination
  • Strong Humanitarian Partnerships

The cluster system was born out of this Humanitarian Reform process; established as a way to strengthen coordination and ensure greater predictability, accountability and partnerships within humanitarian sectors.

What is the Transformative Agenda?

Since the beginning of humanitarian reform efforts, various evaluations and lessons learned have informed work to further strengthen coordination mechanisms so that they best meet the needs of affected populations and the national governments and partners they seek to support. In December 2011, following an analysis of challenges to leadership and coordination, the IASC adopted the Transformative Agenda (TA), a set of actions to move forward humanitarian reform and substantively improve the humanitarian response model. The TA seeks to clarify operational questions about how clusters should operate as well as strengthen humanitarian leadership and accountability still further. The Transformative Agenda guides the work of the Education Cluster at the global level, in collaboration with the other global clusters.

For more information about the Transformative Agenda, see OCHA’s webpage here.

Download the TA protocols here.

Where can I find out information about other sectors and clusters?

In addition to the Education Cluster, there are 11 other Clusters focusing on other areas of humanitarian work:





To find out more about how the Education Cluster and education actors generally can coordinate and link with key sectors in humanitarian response, please visit the Inter-Cluster Coordination section.

Are the resource on this website only useful for those working in Education Clusters?

No, the resources found on this website could be useful for a wide range of practitioners.

You might be part of a group that is not called a “cluster”. If you are part of a sector group, education working group, or any other coordination body that provides education services in challenging contexts, you will find tools and information that might be relevant to your work

If you are in a development, rather than an emergency context, coordination of services is an important consideration, so many of the tools may be useful for you to consider, as well as the information relation to disaster risk reduction  and preparedness .

The resources on this site might also be useful for those working in other sectors or clusters, who wish to better understand education in emergencies and how education can support and link with other areas of humanitarian response. For more information on the linkages with other sectors and clusters, please see the Inter-Cluster Coordination section.


About the Education Cluster at country level

What is the Education Cluster?

The Education Cluster is an open formal forum for coordination and collaboration on education in emergencies. The Education Cluster brings together NGOs, UN agencies, academics, and other partners under the shared goal of ensuring predictable, well coordinated and equitable provision of education for populations affected by humanitarian crises.

At the global level, work is focused on providing operational support to country clusters, building response capacity and developing and implementing standards and policies. The Global Education Cluster also represents the education sector in the global humanitarian arena and other relevant fora. The Education Cluster is the only global cluster co-led by a UN agency and an international nongovernmental organization (INGO): UNICEF and Save the Children.

To find more information on Education Clusters at the country level, please see the Countries section.

To download the Global Education Cluster 2015-2019 Strategic Plan click here.

Who are the Education Cluster Global Partners (ECGP) and Associates (ECA)?

Education Cluster Global Partners (ECGP) and Associates (ECA) is a group of made up of representatives of humanitarian agencies directly or indirectly involved in the delivery of emergency education services or support of of education in emergency technical policies and guidances.

The global partners work together throughout the year on a number of areas, in particular field support, strengthening the framework and capacity building, and advocacy. When working on specific projects, global partners and ECU staff form Technical Working Groups (TWG).

For more information about the membership model under the 2015-2019 strategic plan, please visit the Education Cluster Global Partners section.

What is the Education Cluster Unit (ECU)?

Leadership of the Education Cluster is operationalized through the Education Cluster Unit, which is staffed by both Save the Children and UNICEF. The ECU facilitates the work for the Education Cluster Working Group and directly supports country level Education Clusters.

To meet the staff of the ECU and learn more about their work and how to contact them, please see the Education Cluster Unit section.

What is the Rapid Response Team (RRT)?

The Education Cluster Rapid Response Team is a group of education in emergencies experts who are rapidly deployable to support education coordination in humanitarian situations.

To meet the Rapid Response Team and learn more about what they do and how you can request support please see the Rapid Response Team section.

Who leads the Education Cluster?

At the global level, the Education Cluster is co-led by Save the Children and UNICEF. It is the only global cluster to be co-led by a UN agency and an NGO.

To date, there have been over 40 Education Clusters at  the country level, with UNICEF  leading or co-leading all except one, and Save the Children serving as co-lead in 19 Clusters. Wherever possible, Ministries of Education are invited to take on a strong leadership role in all Education Clusters. Other NGOs have taken on co-leadership at national level in two countries, and in many sub-national Clusters.  Some countries do not have formally activated clusters, but other education in emergency coordination mechanisms, where often the government takes the lead with support from UNICEF and/or Save the Children.

To find out who leads the Education Cluster in your country, visit the Country Clusters section.

Who oversees the work of the Global Education Cluster?

A Steering Group of senior managers from both Save the Children and UNICEF provide governance. The group has 3 main responsibilities:

  • To have oversight on the annual plan and budget by monitoring progress on a quarterly basis.
  • To actively support the work of the ECU by ensuring the engagement of the respective CLAs and securing funding for core activities and resources.
  • To ensure the day to day working relationship of the CLAs.

What is the difference between INEE and the Education Cluster?

INEE stands for Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (www.ineesite.org). The Education Cluster is mandated, through the co-lead agencies, to coordinate education in humanitarian crises, while INEE is a global hub for the development and sharing of knowledge and information across the entire community of education in emergencies practitioners.

The breadth of the INEE network and the strengths of the Education Cluster’s presence in the field are highly complementary. Similarly INEE’s competency in developing tools, standards and guidance is complementary to the cluster’s focus on developing operational and technical capacity and learning from field practice.

The Education Cluster encourages all practitioners working on education in emergencies to join INEE, which is free and open to all: www.ineesite.org/join.

For more information about INEE, visit their website and check out the INEE Links section here.

How can I contact the Education Cluster?

To contact the Education Cluster at the global level, please visit our Contact and Support section.

To contact an Education Cluster at a country level, visit the country clusters section and click on the interactive map to access the national Cluster Coordinator’s contact details.

How can I contact the Education Cluster in my country?

Not all countries have a functioning formal Education Cluster. To see whether your country coordinates education in emergencies work through a cluster, visit the country clusters section and see if your location features on the interactive map.

How can I access Education Cluster tools and resources?

All Education Cluster tools and resources can be found in the Resource  section of this website. You can search according to title or tag/key word. To help you navigate the database, we also have sub sections of resources focused on the following areas:

How can I attend an Education Cluster Training?

The Global Education Cluster organizes trainings for current or potential Education Cluster Coordinators. If you are a current or potential Cluster Coordinator and would like to find out about upcoming trainings and your eligibility, please visit our Contact and Support section.

Trainings are also organized by country clusters for education in emergencies practitioners and Cluster partners at national and sub-national levels. For trainings organized by country clusters, please visit the country clusters section and click on the interactive map to access the contact details for your country cluster.


2 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. Flink says:

    Interesting Read

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