Why is Education in Crisis Settings so important?

Access to education has been defined as “the ability to enroll in school and to continue one’s studies through to the end of a given level” (Dryden-Peterson, 2011, p.24) and is viewed by refugee communities as one of their highest priorities. Education, in the context of an emergency, especially that of conflict/crisis, can play a critical role in normalizing the situation for victims, especially children and youth, by minimizing the psychosocial stresses experienced when emergencies result in the sudden and violent destabilization fashion, disrupting the immediate family and social environment (Pigozzi, 1999). Education can be a support mechanism, supporting children and youth in their struggle to deal with their daily life challenges and with their future. When enrolled in an educational setting children and youth are able to deal with their worries, aspirations, and hopes more confidently and effectively.

When looked at from a pure economic perspective, researchers found out that for each year of schooling, an individual can add 10% to his or her annual earnings. Moreover, each additional year of education would reduce the chances of falling into civil war by 3.6%. A child born to a mother who can read stands a 50 % greater chance of surviving past age five (Center for Universal Education at Brookings, 2016). Therefore, access to education is linked to poverty reduction, economic growth, and better lives for children, families, and communities. There is a general consensus that education is at the heart of improving people’s lives all over the world, because it provides poor and powerless people with more economic opportunities.

However, education is much more than an opportunity to increase one’s income or live longer; it is simply a human right. A long series of international conventions has clearly expressed the right to access HE as a human right for all, e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN General Assembly, 1948,  art 26.2) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (The United Nations, 1989, art. 28c).