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Education is an important sector within humanitarian response due to the role education plays in providing physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection to children, adolescents and youth affected and made more vulnerable by crisis; disseminating life-saving messages about environmental and health risks; and facilitating a return to normalcy and overall stability for children, as well as families and communities. Education is also a key sector in early recovery, as education services and infrastructure are often severely impacted by natural disasters as well as conflict-related emergencies.
While not initially included as part of the humanitarian reform agenda's cluster approach, education clusters or sector groups were formed in cluster roll-out countries. This led to a greater understanding and acknowledgment of the value of including education in the cluster approach, as a means to address capacity gaps and bring actors together at country level in order to ensure a more predictable, timely and effective education response, with inter-sectoral links to other relevant clusters/sectors.
Recognizing the importance of consistent, reliable and accountable educational programming in emergencies, the InterAgency Standing Committee (IASC) endorsed the creation of an education cluster. Education has a strong foundation to build on, through the work of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) on technical tools, information-sharing, capacity-building, and the normative, Sphere-compatible INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recover.
UNICEF and Save the Children co-lead the IASC Education Cluster, working in close collaboration with other leading agencies and INEE. UNICEF and Save the Children provide joint oversight and ensure joint organizational accountability through the IASC Education Cluster Steering Group. Collaborative Working Groups of representatives from many agencies take forward various elements of the IASC Education Cluster’s workplan.
An IASC Education Cluster Unit has been established by the co-lead agencies UNICEF and Save the Children. The Cluster Unit is made up of a handful of staff, who are based in Geneva.
The Work of the IASC Education Cluster
UNICEF as lead agency, and Save the Children as co-lead, have jointly facilitated a three-month gap analysis and strategy development process, working collaboratively with an inter-agency advisory group, and building on the existing INEE network, leading to the submission of a cluster appeal. The members of the Education Advisory Group include UNESCO, WFP, UNHCR, International Rescue Committee, ChildFund International and INEE.
Global and country-level gaps exist in the emergency education sector – in terms of human resources, technical capacity, financial resources and equity of provision, each with global and country-level dimensions. These gaps are due to a lack of human resource capacities and mechanisms for preparedness, response and coordination not keeping pace with the increasing prioritization of education within humanitarian emergencies, as well as the number of actors and the variety of approaches, lack of standardization, and gaps in increasingly important technical areas (including psycho-social support, gender analysis, physical re-construction etc).
Education Cluster aims to: