The adolescents and youth of Colombia face a permanent state of emergency due to their country’s long-lasting internal conflict. Nature, however, has recently shown that it can be a risk factor as well. Since 2010, torrential rains have battered Colombia, causing numerous rivers to burst their banks. This created nation-wide emergencies, deeply affecting the provision of education.
Educational systems throughout the country came to a stop. Some schools had to close, while others where overwhelmed by new students displaced by the floods. For countless adolescents and youth this meant losing the protection and hope provided by education, leaving them even more exposed to violence, armed conflict and forced displacement.
Neither conflict nor natural disasters should create situations, which prevent schools from playing their role. Therefore, RET, UNICEF and the Colombian Ministry of Education joined forces to guarantee the right to education during and after emergencies.
A recurring problem is that educational systems have limited means to face emergency situations. The aim of the collaboration is therefore to collect and disseminate best practices, efficient strategies and tools developed and tested in the region, in order to capacitate local actors.
The project produced clear, practical, easy-to-use manuals designed for actors of the educational system: Two guides offer general considerations, whereas three modules go further into practical details and tools.
The first guide is written for teachers, school directors and the educational practitioners at large. It aims at giving them the proper mind-set to take correct decisions before, during and after emergencies. They are at the forefront of the crisis and need to know what works, when to react and how to prepare. The guide provides the general framework and refers to the modules for the detailed description of specific and concrete tools.
The second guide uses the same methodology. It is, however, tailored to town halls, governors and secretaries of education. Just like teachers and school directors, the political and administrative actors, who plan, organise and supervise the educational system, are in need of guidance.
Conflict and natural disasters are external factors broadly affecting communities, but the damage they do to education is preventable. Education can protect adolescents and youth, but only if access is guaranteed during and after emergencies.
The manuals can be downloaded in Spanish through the following links: