Education in situations of crisis and conflict

Nearly 27 million of the children who are currently out of school live in areas affected by crisis and conflict, according to Unicef. By assuming an international leadership role, Norway has helped to increase political awareness and provide concrete measures for education in situations of crisis and conflict.

The proportion of Norway’s humanitarian assistance that is channelled to education has increased significantly during the current parliamentary period. The Government has taken a leading role in advocating that at least 4 % of global humanitarian aid should go to education. More than 8 % of Norway’s humanitarian aid is now allocated to education.

Barn i flyktningleir for syriske flyktninger i Tyrkia

Children in a refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Credit: Frode O. Andersen, MFA

The right to education must be realised for all children, including those who have been forced to flee because of, or otherwise affected by, natural disasters, war, conflict or persecution. In working towards this goal, our most important partners are Unicef, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We also give priority to education in situations of crisis and conflict in our development efforts, in partnership with Unicef and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

In May 2015, Norway hosted the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools, an international conference on the protection of children and education during armed conflict. Norway led the work to develop a declaration on the protection of education in areas of armed conflict, together with Argentina, several other countries and a number of civil society organisations. The aim of the Safe Schools Declaration is to prevent attacks on educational facilities. Countries that endorse the declaration make a commitment to use the Guidelines for protecting schools and universities from military use during armed conflict. More generally, the declaration aims to raise awareness of the fact that armed conflicts today are preventing millions of children from having access to safe schools.

The list of countries that have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration includes several of the countries where attacks on educational institutions are most widespread. The Government will continue its efforts to gain support for the Safe Schools Declaration and to follow up the countries that have endorsed it, with a view to ensuring that the Guidelines are implemented in practice.

Norway was actively engaged in establishing the global platform and funding mechanism for education in situations of crisis and conflict Education Cannot Wait (ECW), which was launched in 2016. Its aim is to mobilise political will to strengthen education in crises through increased financial support and better coordination of efforts, including better coordination between humanitarian and long-term development efforts.

Norway is a major supporter of Unicef's humanitarian efforts in Syria and its neighbouring countries, particularly its work in the field of education. According to Unicef, nearly five million Syrian children had access to schooling in 2018. At the same time, there are nearly three million children who have been unable to attend school due to the crisis. In addition, more than 300 educational facilities have been attacked since the conflict began in 2011.

For more information about Norway’s efforts in the field of global education, see the white paper Education for Development.