Education in emergencies: Improving the Education in Emergencies (EiE) data landscape

24 May 2024


Ruslana Iurchenko/
A young school girl running

Globally, 224 million crisis-affected children urgently need quality education, including 72 million who are out of school altogether due to conflicts, forced displacement, and climate events.

Ensuring their education is not only a fundamental right but also a key to building a more peaceful and resilient future. However, governments and their partners grapple with persistent obstacles in effectively planning for and responding to educational needs in emergency contexts.

A primary challenge is the lack of accurate, reliable, and timely data, which is crucial for guiding preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The prevalence of diverse data sources also leads to fragmentation and poor coordination between humanitarian and development actors. Not only can this miss vulnerable groups, but it can also result in ineffective policy interventions.

In response UNESCO, and its International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) created a toolkit to strengthen the guidelines and practices for Education in Emergencies (EiE) data.

The toolkit enables users to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the EiE data ecosystem, evaluating opportunities for integrating humanitarian EiE data systems with development and national institutional education information systems.

It encompasses methodologies and tools for identifying EiE data requirements, mapping existing relevant data sources and producers, assessing data source quality, and identifying strategies to address these gaps.

EiE data toolkit in action

The toolkit can be used in diverse country contexts. Let’s take Ecuador as a recent example. The toolkit was used to map primary risks and analyse key EiE data deficiencies. It also identified opportunities to bolster EiE data production and establish coordination mechanisms for essential EiE data sources.

"The diagnosis was crucial in outlining the various administrative data collection tools that currently support us in our goal of developing a single education data system that collects all information on students, educational institutions, teachers and administrative staff," said Galo López Lindao National Director of Educational Analysis and Information of the Ministry of Education of Ecuador.

"The single system will also allow interoperability with data on mobility, health, safety, security, evaluation, higher education, among others, that are relevant to education policy, including data on teenage pregnancy and vaccination rates," he explained.

Building upon this diagnostic phase, UNESCO-IIEP formulated a roadmap outlining strategies to institutionalize EiE data practices within the country.

The roadmap advocates for the incorporation of new data variables aimed at anticipating natural hazards, such as household location and distance learning modalities. It also identifies additional data elements to expedite responses to insecurity and internal vulnerabilities within the education system, including the availability of catch-up courses and students' migration backgrounds.

To address identified data gaps, the roadmap suggests ways to enhance existing data sources, such as including variables like nationality and the date of arrival in Ecuador within the annual school census tool.

The roadmap also proposes enhancing existing systems for rapid data collection and coordinating with other data sources. In this sense, information collected through the Education Management Information System (EMIS) would be consistently enriched with relevant and timely data, to ensure Ecuador can respond quickly to crises affecting the education sector and guarantee learning continuity for all.