What do Children Want in Times of Crisis?

They want an education

June 2015


When children living in emergency and crisis are asked what they need most, time and time again they tell us they want to continue their education.

According to 8,749 children caught up in 17 different emergencies – ranging from conflict to protracted crises and disasters – who took part in 16 studies by eight organisations covering 17 different emergencies, 99% of children in crisis situations see education as a priority.

In eight studies surveying 4,713 children in nine emergency-affected countries where children were asked to rank their needs in order of priority, 38% identified education as their first priority, and for 69%, education was among their three highest priorities.

Yet, the international community consistently fails to answer their call. Instead, education is regularly under-prioritised in humanitarian responses and is significantly underfunded by humanitarian donors.

This inaction has left at least 28.5 million primary school-aged children living in crisis without an education. They now disproportionately constitute half of the world’s out-of-school children.

We need to start listening to what children affected by emergency and crisis want. They have a right to be heard and they have the right to learn. They are telling us that their learning cannot be delayed and they are right.

If we fail to listen to children and to prioritise and protect their education in times of emergency and crisis, they will lead less prosperous, healthy and peaceful lives and the impact on global economic development, prosperity and stability will be significant.

Donors, humanitarian actors and national governments need to start listening and better prioritise, fund and deliver children’s continued education in all emergency and crisis contexts.


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