Sabbir (6) years old, is happily showing his drawing, at the BRAC Pre-Primary School at Korail, Dhaka.

Webinar: Accelerating Early Childhood Education in Crisis and Conflict Settings

Date: 15th September 2021, 9–10 am Eastern

Hosts: UNICEF, IRC, GPE, and Sesame Workshop

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This webinar is available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic

Why prioritize Early Childhood Education in conflict and crisis settings?

Nearly 25% of pre-primary-aged children globally live in conflict-affected countries, and only one in three children in these contexts are enrolled in pre-primary education (UNICEF 2019). These children face compounded risks to their healthy development stemming from multiple adverse experiences which may include exposure to violence, forced displacement, migration and resettlement in new settings, and poverty.

Prolonged, severe adversity puts crisis-affected children at greater risk of toxic stress, leading to short- and long-term negative impacts on their physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional development. The ‘double emergency’ introduced by COVID-19 has only compounded these challenges.

But solutions are possible.

Children are resilient and research shows that early interventions can mitigate the impacts of adversity. Quality early childhood education, learning, and development opportunities must be available to all, including during acute and protracted crisis contexts. This is vital to both build resilience and enable children to fulfill their potential, setting them on course for success in primary school and beyond. But new, sustained commitments are needed to realize these solutions.

Leadership at the global, regional, national, and local levels is required to support crisis-sensitive early childhood education. These interventions are often overlooked and remain underfunded and under-prioritized in national contexts as well as in humanitarian and development assistance. Actors across the humanitarian and development architecture must come together behind a comprehensive approach, led by promising, evidence-based models and tools such as the ECE Accelerator Toolkit.

We need to take action now

Global and national stakeholders must come together to support a comprehensive approach to Early Childhood Education in crisis preparedness and response, committing to robust investment and sustained prioritization of Early Childhood Education in humanitarian settings.

If we hope that our global goals or, more importantly, our responsibility to help children and their communities thrive, this pattern cannot continue. That’s why we are inviting governments, donors, and implementers to work with us to prioritize the inclusion of early childhood services as a standard component of the humanitarian response in all contexts.

  • We call on host countries to effectively include pre-primary refugee children in ECE programs within national education systems and multi-year education sector plans, to ensure pathways to primary education access for pre-primary refugee children;
  • Utilizing and adapting frameworks and tools such as the Nurturing Care Framework, ECE Accelerator Toolkit, and Improving Early Childhood Development guidelines, we call on education implementers and partners to embed Early Childhood Education and Development services in Humanitarian Response Plans and Education Sector Plans;
  • Recognizing the critical role of parents and communities in enabling early and lifelong learning, we call on education partners to increase parental and caregiver engagement through early childhood development services planning;
  • Intentionally establishing clear links between humanitarian and development funding and programming, we call on education investors to commit to multi-year predictable funding levels from the emergency phase onwards; and
  • Recognizing the importance of early learning foundations, we call on investors to strengthen alignment with national education systems and increase funding to ECE — reaching a target of 10 percent of education funding to ECE where relevant and ensuring funding is reaching refugee, migrant, and displaced populations.

Event Overview

UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, Global Partnership for Education, and Sesame Workshop invite partners to join a 1-hour webinar on ‘Accelerating Early Childhood Education in Crisis and Conflict Settings’.

Taking place on 15 September 2021, this online webinar will highlight evidence and the urgent need for prioritizing and investing in quality early childhood education and development in crisis and conflict-affected contexts.

A multi-perspective panel of representatives from national ministries, the humanitarian response system, and education investors will explore the challenges and opportunities for national decision-makers in data mapping and education sector planning and analysis.

The webinar will consist of opening and closing remarks by senior representatives from UNICEF, GPE, and Sesame Workshop. The webinar will include a moderated panel discussion led by the Global Education Cluster, and consisting of representatives of ministries of education from Colombia and Jordan, along with humanitarian education experts from The World Bank, Sesame Workshop, the United Nations.


  • Robert Jenkins, Global Director of Education, UNICEF
  • Jo Bourne, Chief Technical Officer at the Global Partnership for Education


  • (Moderator) Maria Agnese Giordano, Global Education Cluster Co-Lead
  • Dr. Alia Arabiat, Childhood Director, Ministry of Education, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Constanza Alarcón Párraga, Vice-minister of Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Education Colombia
  • Gustavo González, Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, UN Philippines (TBC)
  • Andreas Blom, Education Practice Manager (MENA), The World Bank
  • Sherrie Westin, President of Sesame Workshop

UNICEF is committed to ensuring equitable access to a quality #education for every child.