The emergencies and crises facing our societies are complex, heterogeneous and constantly evolving. The consequences of such events (e.g. conflicts, natural disasters, climate change, epidemics, etc.) are severe, and the impact on education is no exception, ranging from damage to school infrastructure, physical and psychological vulnerability of learners, reduction in the number of teachers and education staff, to widening gender disparities or overall system dysfunction. In these critical situations, access to and the pursuit of quality education are at stake.
In response to all these challenges, a special working group was set up in 2022 under the auspices of the Council of Europe's Intergovernmental Committee on Education (CDEDU) to address the issue and provide Member States with a specific tool to help develop principles and a participatory methodology to empower education stakeholders to provide inclusive and equitable quality education, regardless of the nature of the emergency and/or crisis. The group came up with 6 principles to support the assessment of the resilience of education ecosystems from a multi-level governance perspective and a toolkit to promote and facilitate their implementation in Member States. Following the recommendations of the Focus Group on Education in Emergencies and Crises, a toolkit providing guidance on how to operationalise such an approach has been developed by the Council of Europe and will be made available to Member States.
The "Education in times of emergencies and crisis toolkit - EDURES" promotes a holistic understanding of the role of education in community resilience and robustness. On the one hand, it enables public authorities to assess the resilience of education systems under stress and to identify relevant actions to improve it. On the other hand, the competencies and assets of education systems should complement resilience-based contingency and strategic planning at the community level. Ultimately, this would allow for greater collaboration between all the different community resilience actors, including those from education systems and civil society.
The EDURES toolkit will be presented at the Council of Europe's Conference of Ministers of Education, which will take place at the organisation's headquarters in Strasbourg on 28-29 September 2023, and will then be piloted in Member States, under the further guidance of the CDEDU, before culminating in a designed digital tool.