Backgrounder: Distance Learning in Emergencies – Global



This briefing paper covers specific challenges, lessons learned, practices and actions to consider when aiming to provide quality and principled distance education (DE) in emergencies. . The document considers inclusion and equity as key guiding principles for education in general and calls for their application in all modalities of education, including DE.

This paper presents

• useful ideas and actions for planning, delivering or monitoring and evaluating DE in emergencies, along with examples of possible adaptations of key actions in various situations to take into account the wide range of contexts in which emergencies happen

• general information and definitions to improve clarity for all readers; and

• advice on three priority areas: the professional development of DE teachers, technology for education and enabling policies for DE in emergencies; this guidance is complemented by evidence-based recommendations to address practical challenges


The Altamont Group, working in consultation with the Distance Learning Reference Group (DERG) of the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), has adopted a participatory and collaborative process that has enabled, to the extent possible, the involvement of DERG members in the collection of resources in the development phases of the document. The Altamont Group team used several qualitative methods: an initial brainstorming workshop with members of the DERG; mapping of nearly 341 resources; a literature review of 70 documents; and 20 semi-structured interviews with key experts, including several DERG members.


The objectives of this paper are:

• Identify major challenges, opportunities, lessons learned and most frequently applied DE practices

• Present quick guidance on three priority areas of DE strategies: teacher professional development, technology for education, and enabling policies for DE in emergencies

• Present a map of existing resources on DE in emergencies


The audience for this document is all DE in emergencies stakeholders, including:

• Education authorities at national and local level

• National and local NGOs

• Community organizations, including parent-teacher associations and school management committees, also known as school management committees

• Officially employed teachers and volunteers

• Administrators and staff of educational institutions

• Emergency education professionals, such as INGOs that provide DE in emergencies and their staff members

• Researchers

• Donors

• Education Technology Engineers

• The private sector


This document is composed of an overview, followed by strategies to ensure that quality, safe, relevant and equitable ED is provided as required to all people affected by emergencies. These strategies fit into the three priority areas: teacher professional development, technology for education, and enabling policies for DE in emergencies.
Each focus area is covered in a separate section.

The section for each focus area concludes with a checklist of key elements to consider in the five-phase process cycle: (1) preparation, (2) planning, (3) implementation, ( 4) the transition to a mixed or face-to-face approach. facing learning, and (5) monitoring and evaluation. This document recommends that readers take the time to reflect on the five phases, from the preparation of all actors involved in planning to implementation, including an integrated transition phase, and the integration of monitoring and evaluation in the other phases mentioned. Taking time to reflect increases the capacity to ensure that quality DE in emergencies is provided to all those affected by emergencies, especially the most vulnerable learners.

This document is accompanied by appendices which provide definitions of key terms used in DE; resources to help structure a DE intervention and guidance specifically for DE teachers.

Comments are closed.