Introduction to the Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery

Domain 1 – Foundational Standards

Community Participation



Domain 2 – Access and Learning Environment

Domain 3 – Teaching and Learning

Domain 4 – Teachers and Other Education Personnel

Domain 5 – Education Policy



What is education in emergencies?

Education is a fundamental human right for all people. Education is especially critical for the tens of millions of children and youth affected by conflict and disasters, and yet it is often significantly disrupted in emergency situations, denying learners the transformative effects of quality education.

Education in emergencies comprises learning opportunities for all ages. It encompasses early childhood development, primary, secondary, non-formal, technical, vocational, higher, and adult education. In emergency situations through to recovery, quality education provides physical, psychosocial, and cognitive protection that can sustain and save lives.

Education in emergencies ensures dignity and sustains life by offering safe spaces for learning, where children and youth who need other assistance can be identified and supported. Quality education saves lives by providing physical protection from the dangers and exploitation of a crisis environment. When a learner is in a safe learning environment, he or she is less likely to be sexually or economically exploited or exposed to other risks, such as forced or early marriage, recruitment into armed forces and armed groups, or organised crime. In addition, education can convey life-saving information to strengthen critical survival skills and coping mechanisms. Examples include information on how to avoid landmines, how to protect oneself from sexual abuse, how to avoid HIV infection, and how to access health care and food.

Education opportunities also mitigate the psychosocial impact of conflict and disasters by providing a sense of routine, stability, structure, and hope for the future. By strengthening problem-solving and coping skills, education enables learners to make informed decisions about how to survive and care for themselves and others in dangerous environments. It can help people think critically about political messages or conflicting sources of information.

Schools and other learning spaces can act as an entry point for the provision of essential support beyond the education sector such as protection, nutrition, water and sanitation, and health services. Coordination between workers in the education, protection, shelter, water and sanitation, health, and psychosocial sectors is important in establishing learner-friendly, safe spaces.

Quality education contributes directly to the social, economic, and political stability of societies. It helps to reduce the risk of violent conflict by enhancing social cohesion and supporting conflict resolution and peace-building. However, while the chances for long-term peace-building increase significantly if a conflict-affected population is educated, education can also have a negative impact on peace and stability. Education can contribute to conflict if it reinforces inequities and social injustice by denying access to education for some learners, or if curricula or teaching practices are biased. Education facilities can be targeted during conflict or students and education personnel can be attacked on their way to and from school. Well-designed education reform, which can start soon after an emergency, is necessary to help ensure the protection of education systems and set conflict-affected societies on paths to sustainable peace and development.

Crises can offer an opportunity for national authorities, communities and international stakeholders to work together for social transformation by creating more equitable educational systems and structures. Groups that are often excluded, such as young children, girls, adolescents, disabled children, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), can benefit from opportunities for education achievement. This can be a dividend of a crisis, resulting in improvements in access to and quality of education.

Crises provide an opportunity to teach all members of a community new skills and values: for example, the importance of inclusive education, participation and tolerance, conflict resolution, human rights, environmental conservation, and disaster prevention. It is imperative that education in emergencies through to recovery is appropriate and relevant. It should teach basic literacy and numeracy skills, provide curricula that are relevant to the needs of learners, and encourage critical thinking. Education can build a culture of safety and resilience through teaching about hazards, promoting schools as centres for community disaster risk reduction, and empowering children and youth as leaders in disaster prevention.

How does education fit within humanitarian response?

Communities prioritise education in times of crisis. Schools and other learning spaces are often at the heart of the community and symbolise opportunity for future generations and hope for a better life. Learners and their families have aspirations, and education is the key to increasing each person’s ability to participate fully in the life of their society – economically, socially, and politically.

Until recently, humanitarian relief entailed the provision of food, shelter, water and sanitation, and health care. Education was seen as part of longer- term development work rather than as a necessary response to emergencies.

However, education’s life-sustaining and life-saving role has been recognised and the inclusion of education within humanitarian response is now considered critical.

Education is an integral part of the planning and provision of humanitarian response, which goes beyond providing immediate relief. Coordination and collaboration between education and other emergency sectors are essential for an effective response that addresses the rights and needs of all learners. This is reflected in the Sphere–INEE Companionship Agreement and the work of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)’s Education Cluster (see section on Strategic Linkages).

Humanitarian response is described as a continuum involving disaster preparedness before a crisis and response in an emergency, extending into early recovery. In situations of chronic instability, this linear development is often not the reality. However, it can offer a useful framework for analysis and planning.

What are the INEE Minimum Standards?

The INEE Minimum Standards Handbook contains 19 standards, each with accompanying key actions and guidance notes. The handbook aims to enhance the quality of educational preparedness, response and recovery, increase access to safe and relevant learning opportunities and ensure accountability in providing these services.

The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) facilitated a consultative process that engaged national authorities, practitioners, policy-makers, academics, and other educators around the world in the development of this handbook in 2004 and its update in 2010 (see below for more details). The guidance in the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook is designed for use in crisis response in a range of situations, including disasters caused by natural hazards and conflict, slow- and rapid-onset situations, and emergencies in rural and urban environments.

The focus of the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook is on ensuring quality, coordinated humanitarian response: meeting the educational rights and needs of people affected by disaster through processes that assert their dignity. It is also important to coordinate humanitarian and development aid in the education sector. Particularly in conflict-affected contexts, periods of stability can be interrupted by conflict, instability, and humanitarian crises. In these situations, humanitarian and development organisations often act simultaneously in supporting education. Coordination and close collaboration between these stakeholders are critical to support education effectively, including during the transition from humanitarian aid to development assistance. The handbook provides guidance on how to prepare for and respond to acute emergencies in ways that reduce risk, improve future preparedness and lay a solid foundation for quality education. This contributes to building back stronger education systems in the recovery and development stages.

How were the INEE Minimum Standards developed?

In 2003–2004, the INEE Minimum Standards were developed, debated, and agreed upon through a participatory process of local, national, and regional consultations, online consultations via the INEE listserv and a peer review process. The highly consultative process reflected INEE’s guiding principles of collaboration, transparency, cost-effectiveness, and consultative decision-making. Over 2,250 individuals from more than 50 countries contributed to the development of the first edition of the INEE Minimum Standards. In 2009–2010, based on evaluation findings and recommendations received from users of the standards, the network began an update process to ensure that the handbook:

  • reflects recent developments in the field of education in emergencies;

  • incorporates the experiences and good practices of people using the handbook and adapting the standards to their context;

  • is more user-friendly than the 2004 edition of the handbook.

The 2010 update of the INEE Minimum Standards built upon the original consultative process and INEE’s strong relationships with education, humanitarian, and development practitioners and policy-makers. Key steps in this process, which involved over 1,000 people from around the world, included an analysis of feedback on the handbook, an online consultation, strengthening of cross-cutting issues through expert group consultations, consolidation of each domain of standards, a peer review, and an online review by INEE members through the network’s listserv.

A human rights framework for ensuring the right to life with dignity

Human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law is the body of international legal treaties and normative standards that guarantee and regulate human rights in peace-time and during crises caused by conflict and disasters. The INEE Minimum Standards are derived from human rights and specifically from the right to education, as expressed in key human rights documents.

The 1990 Jomtien Declaration, the 2000 World Education Forum Framework for Action promoting Education for All, and the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, though not legally binding, have reaffirmed and in some cases further developed the right to education. These declarations give specific attention to education in crisis situations, including those that give rise to displaced populations such as refugees and IDPs. They stress early childhood education, access to learning programmes for all young people and adults, and the enhancement of the quality of existing education programmes.

The INEE Minimum Standards are also derived from the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter. This is based on the principles and provisions of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, refugee law, and the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief. The Humanitarian Charter expresses the belief that all people affected by disaster and armed conflict have a right to receive assistance and protection to ensure the basic conditions for life with dignity and security. The Charter points out the legal responsibilities of states and warring parties to guarantee the right to protection and assistance. When the relevant authorities are unable or unwilling to fulfil their responsibilities, they are obliged to allow humanitarian organisations to provide protection and assistance (see

International legal instruments underpinning the INEE Minimum Standards

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (Articles 2, 26)

Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) (Articles 3, 24, 50) and Additional Protocol II (1977) (Article 4.3 (a))

Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) (Articles 3, 22) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (Article 2)

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) (Articles 2, 13, 14) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) (Article 10) Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (Articles 2, 22, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39)

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998) (Article 8(2)(b)(ix) and 8(2)(e)(iv)) Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (non-binding) (1998) (Paragraph 23) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) (Article 24)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Right to Education in Emergency Situations (2010)

Is there a right to education in emergency situations?

Yes. Human rights are universal and they apply even in emergencies. The right to education is both a human right and an enabling right. Education provides skills that people need to reach their full potential and to exercise their other rights, such as the right to life and health. For example, once a person can read safety warnings about landmines, he or she knows to avoid a field littered with mines. Basic literacy also supports the right to health. It enables people to read medical instructions from doctors and to correctly follow dosage directions on medicine bottles.

Providing quality education to all is primarily the responsibility of national authorities, delegated to ministries of education, and local education authorities. In emergencies, other stakeholders – multilateral organisations like the United Nations (UN), national and international NGOs, and community- based organisations – also undertake education activities. In contexts where the relevant local and national authorities are unable or unwilling to meet their obligations, these stakeholders can assume responsibility for education provision. The INEE Minimum Standards Handbook provides a framework of good practice for all stakeholders to help achieve quality education.

‘Quality education’ is education that is available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable. The INEE Minimum Standards take the language and spirit of human rights law as the basis of education planning. They help to achieve quality education by bringing to life the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, and legal protection.


What is the content of the INEE Minimum Standards?

The INEE Minimum Standards are organised in five domains:

Foundational Standards: these have been revised and expanded to include coordination as well as community participation and analysis. These standards should be applied across all domains to promote a holistic, quality response. These standards give particular attention to the need for good diagnosis at all stages of the project cycle, in order to better understand the context and apply more appropriately the standards in the domains that follow.

Access and Learning Environment: standards in this domain focus on access to safe and relevant learning opportunities. They highlight critical linkages with other sectors such as health, water and sanitation, nutrition, and shelter that help to enhance security, safety and physical, cognitive, and psychological well-being.

Teaching and Learning: these standards focus on critical elements that promote effective teaching and learning, including curricula, training, professional development and support, instruction and learning processes, and assessment of learning outcomes.

Teachers and Other Education Personnel: standards in this domain cover administration and management of human resources in the field of education. This includes recruitment and selection, conditions of service, and supervision and support.

Education Policy: standards in this domain focus on policy formulation and enactment, planning and implementation.

Each section of the handbook describes a specific domain of educational work. However, each standard intersects with others in the handbook. Where appropriate, guidance notes identify important linkages to other relevant standards or guidance notes in other domains to provide a comprehensive view of quality education.

What is new in the 2010 edition of the Minimum Standards Handbook?

Those familiar with the 2004 edition of the Handbook will recognise much of the content of the present edition. Improvements include:

  • strengthening of context analysis and key issues: protection, psychosocial support, conflict mitigation, disaster risk reduction, early childhood development, gender, HIV and AIDS, human rights, inclusive education, inter-sectoral linkages (health; water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion; shelter; food and nutrition) and youth. For tools to help with the implementation of these key issues, go to the INEE Toolkit:

  • the inclusion of key actions, rather than key indicators, that need to be taken in order to meet the standards (see box below);

  • a change in the name of the first domain from ‘Standards Common to all Categories’ to ‘Foundational Standards’, to reflect the need to use these standards as the basis of all education work. In addition, given the need for coordination in all education work, the standard on Coordination has been moved to this domain from the Education Policy domain.

Context analysis

The affected population must be at the centre of humanitarian response, and it is at the centre of the updated INEE Minimum Standards. Disasters and conflict have differing impacts on people due to inequalities in control over resources and power. Vulnerability is a characteristic or circumstance that makes people more susceptible to the damaging effects of a disaster or conflict. The social, generational, physical, ecological, cultural, geographic, economic, and political contexts in which people live play a role in determining vulnerability. Depending on the context, vulnerable groups may include women, disabled people, children, girls, children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups, and people affected by HIV. Capacity is a combination of the strengths, attributes, and resources available within an individual, community, society, or organisation that can be used to achieve agreed goals.

In order to understand how a context influences vulnerability and capacity, education stakeholders need to consider overlapping and changing vulnerabilities and capacities in their analysis of the local context. In some contexts, people may become more vulnerable as a result of ethnicity, class or caste, displacement, or religious or political affiliation. These elements can affect access to quality education services. For this reason, a comprehensive analysis of people’s needs, vulnerabilities and capacities in each context is essential for effective humanitarian response. The Foundational Standards include guidance on context analysis, which has also been mainstreamed throughout the handbook.

To reduce people’s vulnerability in a crisis, it is essential to recognise their resilience and capacity and to build on these. Understanding and supporting local responses and building the capacity of local actors are absolute priorities. By strengthening context analysis in the Foundational Standards and mainstreaming key issues throughout, the 2010 Handbook provides a framework to better address context, vulnerability, and capacity in education preparedness, response, and recovery in a comprehensive manner.

What is the difference between a standard, a key action, and a guidance note?

Each standard follows the same format. First, the Minimum Standard is set out. The standards are derived from the principle that populations affected by disaster or conflict have the right to life with dignity and to safe, quality, and relevant education. Hence, they are qualitative in nature and are meant to be universal and applicable in any context.

Standards are followed by a series of key actions, which are suggested ways to achieve the standard. Some actions may not be applicable in all contexts; they should be adapted to the specific context. The practitioner can devise alternative actions so that the standard can be met.

Finally, guidance notes cover specific points of good practice to consider when applying the minimum standards and adapting the key actions in different situations. They offer advice on priority issues and on tackling practical difficulties, while also providing background information and definitions.

Who should use the INEE Minimum Standards?

All stakeholders involved in emergency education preparedness, response and recovery, including disaster risk reduction and conflict mitigation, should use and promote these minimum standards, key actions, and guidance notes. They provide a framework of technical knowledge and good practice to ensure access to safe, quality education and to bring stakeholders together at country and global levels. Stakeholders include:

  • education authorities at national and local levels;

  • UN agencies;

  • bilateral and multilateral donor agencies;

  • NGOs and community-based organisations, including parent-teacher associations;

  • teachers, other education personnel and teachers’ unions;

  • education sector coordination committees and Education Clusters;

  • education consultants;

  • researchers and academics;

  • human rights and humanitarian advocates.

How do I adapt the INEE Minimum Standards to my local context?

There is inevitably a tension between universal standards, based on human rights, and the ability to apply them in practice. The standards define the goals for access to quality education in universal terms, while the key actions represent specific steps that are needed to achieve each standard. Since every context is different, the key actions in the handbook must be adapted to each specific local situation. For example, the key action on teacher-student ratio states that ‘enough teachers should be recruited to ensure an appropriate teacher-student ratio’ (see Teachers and other education personnel standard 1, guidance note 5). This must be contextualised by determining, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, the teacher-student ratio that is locally acceptable. While 60 students per teacher might be an acceptable ratio in the acute stage of an emergency, the number could be expected to improve to 30 or 40 students per teacher in a chronic crisis or recovery context. Context, including available resources and the stage of the emergency, must be considered in determining locally acceptable contextualised actions.

Ideally, the process of contextualisation should occur prior to the onset of any emergency as part of educational contingency planning and preparedness. The experience of users of the INEE Minimum Standards has shown that contextualisation is more effective when carried out as a participatory and collaborative exercise. Where operating, an education sector coordination committee or an Education Cluster is an ideal forum in which to develop locally relevant, concrete and implementable actions to meet the standards (for guidance on contextualisation of the INEE Minimum Standards, go to the INEE Toolkit:

In some instances, local factors make the realisation of the minimum standards and key actions unattainable in the short term. When this happens, it is critical to reflect upon and understand the gap between the standards and key actions listed in the handbook and the reality in the local context. Challenges should be examined and strategies for change identified in order to realise the standards. Programme and policy strategies can then be developed and advocacy can be undertaken to reduce the gap.

The INEE Minimum Standards were developed to improve the way in which humanitarian action is accountable to the education rights and needs of people affected by disasters. The aim is to make a significant difference to the lives of people affected by crisis. No one handbook alone can achieve this – only you can. INEE welcomes your feedback on the 2010 edition of the INEE Minimum Standards, which will help to inform a future revision. Please use the Feedback Form.

Tools to help implement and institutionalise the INEE Minimum Standards

Materials to support the application and institutionalisation of the INEE Minimum Standards are available on the INEE website.


INEE Minimum Standards Translations:

The 2004 edition of the INEE Minimum Standards handbook is currently available in 23 languages. The current edition is available in 17 languages, including Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese etc.


INEE Toolkit:

The INEE Toolkit contains the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook, training and promotional materials (including all translations), as well as practical tools to adapt the indicators to the local setting in order to realise the standards. The tools are linked to each domain within the handbook as well as to the key issues mainstreamed in the handbook. The Toolkit also contains a range of INEE tools that have been developed to complement and support the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook: for example, Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction, Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation, Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning, the Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education and the Gender Pocket Guide.


INEE Minimum Standards Reference Tool:

This tool is a quick reference guide in the form of an ‘indestructible’ pamphlet, listing all the standards, key actions and guidance notes in an easy-to-read format.


INEE Minimum Standards Institutionalisation Checklists:

Developed to target the specific needs of different types of organisation (UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and education coordination bodies and education clusters), these checklists articulate a variety of actions that organisations can take to integrate the minimum standards internally and in bilateral and multilateral work.

How should I use the INEE Minimum Standards?

Always use the Foundational Standards when applying the standards in the other domains: Access and Learning Environment, Teaching and Learning, Teachers and Other Education Personnel, and Education Policy. Also read the brief introduction to each domain of standards, which sets out the major issues relevant to that domain. Good practice technical tools to help implement the standards can be found in the INEE Toolkit.

The INEE Minimum Standards Handbook is designed to be used during humanitarian response for planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation (see example 1 below). It will be used most effectively if education stakeholders are already familiar with the handbook and have received training on it before using it during an acute emergency response (see example 2 below). The handbook is valuable as a training aid for capacity building. It can also be used as an advocacy tool when negotiating humanitarian space and provision of resources (see example 3 below). The handbook is useful for disaster preparedness, contingency planning and sector coordination.


Since its launch in 2004, the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook has proved to be an effective tool in over 80 countries for the promotion of quality education from the start of an emergency through to recovery. The standards provide a common framework and facilitate the development of shared objectives between different stakeholders, including members of governments, communities, and international agencies. Users of the INEE Minimum Standards have reported that the handbook helps to:

  • ensure that communities are meaningfully involved in the design and implementation of education programmes in emergencies through to recovery;

  • better coordinate education assessments and response;

  • strengthen national education systems;

  • contribute to improved service delivery;

  • monitor and evaluate education work in emergencies through to recovery and development;

  • build capacity to increase knowledge and skills in implementing high- quality education programmes;

  • guide donor investment in the education sector.

The INEE Minimum Standards also serve as a key accountability tool for education providers. Donor agencies are increasingly using them as a quality and accountability framework for education projects that they support. The following are examples of how the standards have been used in specific contexts:

  1. School rehabilitation in Iraq: Following fighting that had led people to flee their homes, the INEE Minimum Standards were used to inform the rehabilitation of five public schools in the city of Fallujah. In 2007, students, parents and teachers, both returnees and people who had stayed during the fighting, took part in focus group discussions to identify priority areas in the school rehabilitation programme. Drawing on the guidance in the Community Participation standards and Access and Learning Environment domain, water and sanitation and preparation of classrooms were prioritised, and a Community Education Committee (CEC) was formed. To ensure the participation of women in the CEC, female project staff met with mothers and young female students in their homes to identify reasons for low female enrolment in school. Concerns about safety for girls going to school were addressed by arranging for female students to walk to school together or with an escort. Unease about single male teachers working in schools led the CEC to work with the school administration to increase the transparency of recruitment procedures. This reassured families that teachers could be trusted to act responsibly with their children and helped to increase enrolment.

  2. Inter-agency coordination in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami: Indonesia sustained the worst human losses and physical damage in the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004. In the province of Aceh, over 44,000 students and 2,500 teachers and education personnel were killed, and 150,000 surviving students lost access to proper education facilities. In the response, the INEE Minimum Standards were widely accepted as a relevant design and implementation tool, enabling a greater level of coordination and improved practice during the emergency phase. Using the Minimum Standard on Coordination, local authorities and international agencies formed an Education Coordination Committee, which met regularly in Banda Aceh. An inter-agency Minimum Standards Working Group trained agency staff to use the minimum standards, sharing experience and good practices. The handbook was swiftly translated into Bahasa Indonesian and used by the Aceh Provincial Ministry of Education. A key lesson learned was the importance of staff continuity in maintaining the pace of coordination and implementation in an acute emergency. The systematic inclusion of the INEE Minimum Standards trainings in the orientation of new staff has had a significant impact on improving coordination in such emergency contexts.

  3. Strengthening donor policy: Norway is one of five donors which directly refer to education as part of their humanitarian policy, and has been very supportive of INEE and the Minimum Standards. In 2007, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) created an Emergency Education Team, which is committed to promoting increased awareness, practical application and systematic utilisation of the INEE Minimum Standards within Norad as well as the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and their partners. The Emergency Education Team advises the MFA and Norad on grant allocations for education and shares relevant information from INEE Bulletins with appropriate colleagues. It recommends that organisations applying to Norad for financial support should describe their use of the INEE Minimum Standards. The INEE Minimum Standards were included in the terms of reference of an annual joint donor mission to Southern Sudan in 2008, which included UNICEF, the World Bank and the European Union. Norad thus promoted the use and institutionalisation of the INEE Minimum Standards by partner donor organisations and the Ministry of Education of South Sudan, which is responsible for the reconstruction of the education sector. Norad has been supported in its institutionalisation of the Minimum Standards by key Norwegian NGOs which are members of INEE. The Emergency Education Team in turn encourages other Norwegian NGOs and research institutions to adopt and refer to the standards in their programme development. The Government of Norway’s support for INEE and its application of the INEE Minimum Standards reflect its leadership in global discussions and debates on education, in particular on teachers, gender and emergencies.

For other examples on the application and impact of the INEE Minimum Standards around the world, go to case studies on the INEE website.


What are the links between the INEE Minimum Standards and the Sphere Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response?

The Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, which were launched in 1997 by a group of humanitarian NGOs and the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, articulate what people affected by disasters have a right to expect from humanitarian assistance. The Sphere Handbook includes the Humanitarian Charter and minimum standards for the sectors of water supply, sanitation, and hygiene promotion; food security and nutrition; shelter, settlement, and non-food items; and health action.

The INEE Minimum Standards echo the core beliefs of the Sphere Project: that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of calamity and conflict, and that people affected by disaster have a right to life with dignity. In October 2008, the Sphere Project and INEE signed a Companionship Agreement whereby the Sphere Project acknowledges the quality of the INEE Minimum Standards and the broad consultative process that led to their development. As such, the Sphere Project recommends that the INEE Minimum Standards be used as companion and complementary standards to the Sphere Project Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.

The Companionship Agreement reinforces the importance of ensuring that inter-sectoral linkages between education and the sectors represented in Sphere are made at the outset of an emergency. This aims to improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by crisis and to enhance the accountability of the humanitarian system in disaster preparedness and response.

Relevant guidance from the Sphere Handbook is cross-referenced throughout this edition of the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook. Likewise, guidance on education has been integrated into the 2011 edition of the Sphere Handbook. The use of the INEE Minimum Standards as a companion to the Sphere Handbook will help to ensure that inter-sectoral linkages are made through multi-sectoral needs assessments, followed by joint planning and a holistic response.

For more information on the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, go to:

What are the links between the INEE Minimum Standards and the IASC Education Cluster?

The Education Cluster, co-led globally by UNICEF and the Save the Children, represents a commitment to predictability, preparedness and response within the field of education in emergencies. Where it operates, the Education Cluster is a key coordination mechanism for supporting states in determining educational needs in emergency situations and responding to them jointly in a coordinated manner. The INEE Minimum Standards are the foundational tool used by the Education Cluster to provide a framework to ensure quality education response. The Global Education Cluster and country-based Education Clusters use the standards to:

  • improve the quality of cluster coordination, facilitating inter-agency dialogue and the development of shared objectives;

  • improve planning and implementation of preparedness, risk reduction and response, including through joint needs assessments and related monitoring and evaluation;

  • train staff and partners and support capacity building efforts;

  • frame the development of funding appeals;

  • foster inter-agency dialogue and advocacy between cluster members, donors and other sectors.

For more information, go to the Education cluster.

Frequently asked questions about the INEE Minimum Standards

How do we ensure that the INEE Minimum Standards reinforce existing government education standards?

Many ministries of education have developed national education standards. INEE recognises and supports the leading role of national authorities in defining education laws and policies and in ensuring the provision of basic educational services to all children living in the country, including refugees, IDPs and members of minority groups. In situations where there are national standards, the differences in scope, intent and content between those standards and the INEE Minimum Standards should be analysed. Experience has shown that the INEE Minimum Standards are generally compatible with national education standards. They are a useful tool to complement, supplement and help reach national standards. They provide strategies for their implementation and guidance specific to emergency situations which might not be fully addressed in national policies or strategies.


The INEE Minimum Standards set high standards – why are they called ‘minimum’?

As the INEE Minimum Standards are based on the right to education, as codified in many legal instruments and international agreements, the guidance within the handbook cannot be set below these rights. The standards may seem high because they describe internationally agreed human rights as well as good practice, but they also define the minimum requirements for quality education and human dignity.


Are there ways to use the INEE Minimum Standards when financial and educational resources are limited?

The INEE Minimum Standards are useful in three ways in contexts where there are limited resources. First, many aspects of the standards define good practice without requiring high expenditure. For example, the community participation standards do not require much additional expenditure, but applying them can improve the quality of humanitarian and education work. This helps save time and resources in the long term and can contribute to more lasting positive effects. Second, the INEE Minimum Standards can be used to advocate for increased and more effective funding for education in emergencies and recovery. Third, using the INEE Minimum Standards ensures that education authorities and other organisations take good decisions at the beginning of a response and avoid the costs of having to improve a poorly designed programme or system.