INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education

Cynthia Koons


This INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education aims to contribute a reference tool for education practitioners and policy makers on how to provide education in ways that are conflict sensitive. The strategies mentioned are designed to provoke thought rather than indicate prescriptive measures, as one of the keys to conflict sensitivity is adaptation to each unique context. The guidance note was developed with consideration of education delivery—early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary levels of both formal and non-formal education—in all types and phases of conflict. It is based on the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook, which is a familiar tool to many education practitioners in conflict contexts.

This guidance note is for education practitioners and policy makers working in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. The recommended strategies may inform government, development and humanitarian workers, as well as those working in other sectors.

Key Findings:

  • The first step of implementing an education programme or policy is to conduct an assessment of the situation. If an assessment is not conducted in a conflict sensitive way, it can contribute to intergroup tensions or lead to unintentionally biased education programmes or policies. In addition to conducting an education assessment in a conflict sensitive way, you should also include in the process a conflict analysis.
  • Equitable and transparent community participation is critical for conflict sensitive education. If this is not done well and from the beginning, one risks implementing a programme or policy that perpetuates existing inequalities or triggers intergroup grievances and conflict. However, if participation is done well, with a diverse and representative group, the potential of education to transform a society into one of peace can be maximized. In addition to the participation of community members, participation of agencies and organizations through coordination mechanisms is critical to conflict sensitive education. In any context, coordination mechanisms can promote transparency, accountability, and comprehensive education strategies.
  • In conflict-affected contexts, reform of curricula, texts, and materials is often necessary to meet the principles mentioned above. Conflict sensitive curricula reform requires a process that is gradual, participatory, and informed by the conflict analysis.
  • Informed by the conflict analysis, conflict sensitive teacher recruitment and selection should involve a transparent, participatory process that avoids bias towards any one group. If done in this way, recruitment of a teaching labour force avoids perpetuating inequalities and can be perceived by previously excluded citizens as a benefit of peace, or a peace dividend. If, however, recruitment is conducted according to conflict lines, it can escalate intergroup grievances and trigger violence.
  • It is critical that education programmes and policies addressing conditions of work and compensation are implemented in a conflict sensitive manner. Any strategy should be informed by the findings of the local conflict analysis, including examination of the local political and economic dynamics.


Koons, C. (2013). INEE Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education. New York: INEE.