Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Education Sector Contingency Planning

An important and often overlooked element of emergency response is preparedness. Emergency preparedness planning within the education sector, outlining actions to respond to a range of threats, is a critical step towards ensuring access to quality education for all learners in times of crises. Preparedness planning involves creating a contingency plan. This articulates how the education sector will respond to a specific emerging or anticipated crisis prior to its occurrence. This can contribute greatly to the success of humanitarian response during an emergency.

What is a Contingency Plan?

  • Contingency planning is an on-going process to reflect upon and prepare for various emergency scenarios. The process occurs over a period of time with participation of key stakeholders.
  • A contingency plan can be developed at the national and/or local levels with key stakeholders involved in emergency response. For the education sector, this can include education coordination group or the IASC Education Cluster, Ministry of Education staff at the national and local levels, community-based organizations, teachers, youth and others. Contingency planning should always include the Ministry of Education, preferably in a leadership role.
  • A contingency plan document is one of the key results of the process. It is a living document whose activities should be implemented as part of emergency preparedness. The document’s plan should be reviewed and revised regularly, usually on an annual basis.
  • Even though contingency plans are developed for individual sectors, there needs to be coordination with other sectors to ensure there is not an overlap or gap in service provision.

Why should you have a contingency plan?

  • Experience shows that emergencies can be avoided or their effects can be mitigated when preparedness measures are taken. Contingency planning is a key to preparedness.
  • Contingency planning provides an opportunity to identify constraints and focus on operational issues prior to the on-set of a crisis.
  • An active, joint contingency planning process also enables involved actors to establish working relationships that can make a critical difference during a crisis.
  • A common understanding of common challenges and of each other’s capacities and organizational requirements helps to facilitate effective collaboration in a crisis and adds better predictability, coherence, coordination and professionalism to a response. It ensures there is no overlap or gaps in service provided.

Who should be involved in the contingency planning process?

  • Contingency planning is most effective when it is a participatory process that includes all those that will be required to work together in the event of an emergency. Who depends on the level of the contingency planning, whether national, regional, local/school.
  • Some examples include: Education cluster members, Ministry of Education staff from national and local levels, INGOs and United Nations agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations including parent-teacher associations, teachers, teachers’ unions, students.
  • It is important to include experts at different stages in the planning process (i.e. engineers for safe school construction, national disaster management authorities to ensure coordination with other sectors).


Helpful Information on Contingency Planning

For more information on contingency plans and how to develop a contingency plan, please see:


View Sample Education Sector Contingency Plans

Education Sector Plans for Influenza in Schools

Multi-Sectoral Contingency Plans


Submit Your Own Contingency Plan

Please email minimumstandards@ineesite.org. Your efforts will inspire and inform the work of other INEE members in the field and improve educational preparedness around the world.