Emergency – School and Learning

The School-in-a-Box has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations around the world. The kit contains supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 80 students, if taught in double shift classes of 40. The purpose of the kit is to ensure the continuation of children’s education in the first 72 hours of an emergency. 

In addition to the basic school supplies, such as exercise books, pencils, erasers and scissors, the kit also includes a wooden teaching clock, wooden cubes for counting and a set of three laminated posters (alphabet, multiplication and number tables). The kit is supplied in a locked aluminium box, the lid of which can double as a blackboard when coated with the special paint included in the kit. Using a locally developed teaching guide and curriculum, teachers can establish makeshift classrooms almost anywhere.


The contents of the kit are culturally neutral, can be used anywhere in the world, and are often supplemented by locally purchased products, such as books in local languages, toys, games and musical instruments. Exercise books are printed without margins, so that children who write from left to right or from right to left can use them. Another version of the kit, without the lockable box, the School-in-a-Carton, is also available, as is a replenishment kit.

School-in-a-Box: Guidelines for use [PDF] 

Kit “L’Ecole-en-Boite”: Guide D’Utilisation [PDF] 

La Caja-Escuela: Guia de Uso [PDF] 

UNICEF Image: school-in-a-box
© UNICEF/HQ05-0161/Shehzad Noorani
SRI LANKA: Sports equipment and other games from a UNICEF Recreation Kit are distributed to children at a relief camp for people displaced by the tsunami.

The Recreation Kit

It is now widely appreciated that sport is an effective trauma therapy for children displaced by war and natural disasters. The Recreation Kit is designed to provide that therapy, as a result of experience gained during several emergencies. The kit is suitable for up to 90 children, who can participate in team sports and games under the guidance of a teacher. It includes balls for several types of games, coloured tunics for different teams and a measuring tape for marking play areas and a whistle and scoring slate. Following a gender analysis of the kit, and in light of UNICEF’s priority of girls’ education, additional items aimed at encouraging physical activity and sport amongst girls have also been added.

The selection of play materials stocked in the Supply Division warehouse has been reduced considerably, as more good-quality toys have become available at the local level. A limited number of play materials are stocked for emergency purposes, but the Division’s technical experts have identified a number regional sources of imaginative play materials for young children, that can be utilized when a need arises.


One thought on “Emergency – School and Learning

  1. Good post!
    Many people forget education during the hiatus of an emergency so that they can dig out or bury bodies, provide shelter,food and water. Learning is sometimes low on the list. What people forget is the psycho social needs of children. Some of these children have witnessed their parents,siblings or relatives being killed, murdered, raped, tortured -school brings a tiny bit of normality to their disjointed, fragmented,traumatic life. Playing games helps them to relate normally once more in a human context even though their loss of faith in humanity is understandable. Apart from UNICEF and Save the Children Alliance -check out INEE http://www.ineesite.org -the inter agency network for education in emergencies for more.

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