Much has been said about the power of education to provide a sense of normalcy, hope and recovery following a period of crisis, be it a pandemic, conflict or natural disaster. However, education can also provoke further social unrest and breed societal tensions. 

Unfortunately, schooling and education remain an afterthought or a perceived ‘luxury’ in humanitarian responses, despite their transformative potential in building societies back better. Much more attention needs to be given to the form, functions and purposes of education before, during and after a crisis.

This talk will critically explore how political, cultural and economic interests often complicate whether and how education is supported within humanitarian responses, comparing what we’re currently seeing in Ukraine to other recent crises around the world. 

Drawing on years of research in conflict-affected contexts globally, Dr Ritesh Shah will provide examples of how we might ask for and expect more from education in the increasingly tumultuous world in which we live. He will also look at what we should be demanding from our governments and the global community as part of any humanitarian response. 


Dr Ritesh Shah is a Senior Lecturer of Comparative and International Education and is a global expert on education provision in times of crisis and conflict. He has spent time researching these issues around the globe, including in Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Ukraine. He is currently leading a project titled ACCESS, which focuses on exploring how out-of-school children and youth around the world might have improved access to relevant and responsive learning opportunities.

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Last updated: 13 July 2022