Rapid Evidence Review: Education in Emergencies

Key findings

  1. EdTech has the potential to help children continue to access education during periods of disruption and school closures caused by emergencies. Radio and tablets have demonstrated promise in filling in educational gaps in previous emergencies, including in conflict and post-conflict settings and the Ebola epidemic.
  2. Leveraging technology to convey key messages to families and communities, as well as to children themselves, can play a critical role supporting children’s transitions back to school in post-crisis contexts. Limited evidence from the Ebola epidemic highlights the particular role of radio in this.
  3. Community participation is important for contextualised interventions. In times of conflict, conflict-sensitive and culturally appropriate EdTech is particularly critical in ensuring education supports peacebuilding, rather than exacerbating conflict.
  4. Blended approaches, promoting interactions and connections with teachers and peers, and self-directed approaches, allowing greater autonomy and pacing, each have the potential to promote positive learning outcomes for children in emergencies. To successfully facilitate these approaches, teachers must be willing and able to navigate and use EdTech effectively, and without the adaptation to new technologies leading to additional stress during crisis periods.
  5. There are positive examples of initiatives supporting teachers and educators with their continuous development and teaching, although these are mostly limited to protracted and post-conflict settings. There is very limited evidence on the transferability of such projects to acute conflict, epidemic or disaster settings.
  6. Technology has been widely used to support the coordination and effectiveness of EiE responses. The use of technology to support data collection is particularly significant in this context. Digital data collection can be important in informing institutional-level monitoring of students’ and schools’ performances, as well as shaping wider educational policy planning and identifying critical education needs during emergencies. Data protection and safeguarding must be held at the fore when considering the expansion of EdTech in emergencies.
  7. The selected literature demonstrates the ways in which technology can support the protection of children from risks resulting from an emergency. These include: warning teachers and students of risks around schools in conflict; mitigating against negative coping strategies imposed when children are out of school; and supporting children’s learning about disaster risks in areas vulnerable to natural disasters and, thus, their disaster preparedness.
  8. EdTech has the potential to directly support children’s psychosocial well-being, and there are notable examples of projects that embed well-being outcomes into project design. EdTech can also indirectly support well-being, with some evidence that engaging with EdTech during emergencies can have positive results, particularly if it allows children to remain connected with their peers and teachers when schools close, and enhances their self-esteem and confidence.
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