Conference on "Education in Countries in Crisis or Post-Conflict"

2 Jun 2004 to 4 Jun 2004

Background, Justification & Objectives 

At the April 2002 meeting of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Bureau of Ministers in Chantilly (France), several education ministers called for a conference on education in situations of crisis and early reconstruction. Their request is clearly justified by even a quick glance at Africa where more than one third of the world's major armed conflicts are taking place and nearly half of the world's 10 million refugees are living. In these countries, conflicts are a major barrier to educational development and the achievement of quality Education for All. In addition to being potent sources of political instability, social cleavages and massive destruction of all kinds, conflicts have a direct and devastating impact on the education system and its main stakeholders: school infrastructure and resources are destroyed, families separated, the teaching force disrupted, children press-ganged into armed bands, orphaned, disabled, and traumatized. During and after conflicts, national governments and foreign aid are confronted with a context in which delivering education services represents a major challenge. 
To devote more thought to a subject that is crucial for the development of education in Africa and offer education ministries, development partners and education specialists an opportunity to exchange experiences and develop a knowledge-base of good practices in a field that is relatively new, and hence insufficiently explored, the conference on 'Education in Countries in Crisis or Post-Conflict' was organized from 2 to 4 June 2004 in Mombasa, Kenya, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat. 


The conference brought together Ministers of Education and Training from conflict-torn countries (Botswana, Burundi, Mozambique, Gabon, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Seychelles, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, South Africa, Kenya, Sudan, Liberia, Uganda, Lesotho, Zanzibar, Lesotho) with representatives from ministries, the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies) as well as FAWE and the ADEA Working Groups on Higher Education (WGHE) and Communication for Education and Development (COMED). 

The Issues discussed

Three main questions were addressed: prevention of conflict, education in emergency situations and the post-conflict reconstruction of education systems. Before, to prevent: Prevention is closely allied with education policies, namely through their aims and intentions. But above and beyond their cognitive issues, educational policies and models should promote values, attitudes and socially appropriate behaviors. During: When a country is torn by conflict, it is extremely difficult to provide educational services. But this should not be an excuse to abolish education when it is in fact indispensable for helping children overcome the social and psychological problems and to protect them from hate, vengeance and threats to their health. After, to reconstruct: During the post-conflict period participants have highlighted the importance of holding a national consultation in order to plan and draw up educational policies. Problems are not limited to lack of bank credit, material resources or technical and institutional capacity. Rebuilding an education system requires a process that involves both the attitudes and the behavior of partners as well as the relationships between them. 
The conference helped to foster awareness and commitment on the part of key actors with respect to the educational challenges arising from conflicts in Africa. Participants shared what has been learned from the education strategies, programs and projects developed in conflict situations, from the standpoint of both national policy and external aid. Lastly it created partnerships with other organizations and institutions working in the area of education in conflict and post-conflict situations such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).


The conference made several recommendations concerning the need: 

  • To better coordinate country activities, development partners and civil society; 
  • To establish teams of education specialists experienced in crisis and reconstruction situations, who would act as a sounding board, facilitating discussion and exchange;
  • To use an internet site to make information and publications accessible; 
  • To conduct case studies on existing experience with crisis and reconstruction situations; and 
  • To set up an exchange program among African countries confronting the same problems.

Ministerial Round Table follow-up Meeting

As result of this partnership and as a direct follow-up of the Mombasa Conference, ADEA, in collaboration with INEE and the Commonwealth Secretariat, organized during INEE's 2nd Global Consultation on Education in Crisis and Early Reconstruction (2 to 4 December 2004 in Cape Town, South Africa), a Ministerial Round Table. It continued to foster awareness of and commitment to the challenges arising from emergency situations, and included this time as well national disasters, and the essential role governments should play in this. Experiences have been exchanged amongst ministers and experts on education delivery and the sustaining or rebuilding of education systems and conflict situations, based on the discussions in Mombasa and including the experiences concerning early recovery programs after natural disasters.

The Mombasa Declaration

At the end of the conference the Ministers of Education signed the Mombasa Declaration, which affirms their will to use education systems to build peace and to prevent and resolve conflicts.


We, Ministers of Education of Africa and their representatives, meeting here at Mombasa, Kenya, between 2nd - 4th June, 2004, to address the challenge of achieving Education For All (EFA) in crisis, post-conflict and difficult circumstances, hereby acknowledge our responsibility enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of the Child; the Geneva Convention (1949), the Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951) and our own African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999), and all other conventions relating to the rights of the child and undertake to mobilize our efforts and resources to: 

  1. Utilize our education systems as agencies and forces for peace-building, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and nation building. 
  2. Recognise the unique position which the girl and boy child occupies in African society and honour their right to free primary education even in times of crisis and post-conflict.
  3. Endeavour to provide education and protection for every child without distinction of race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national and social origin, birth or status. 
  4. Commit, in collaboration with our development partners to the provision of education services for refugees, internally displaced persons and any other marginalized groups. 
  5. Seek urgently ways to address provision of education for those in our societies facing difficult circumstances particularly those arising out of poverty, ill-health, HIV/AIDS, orphan status or remote locations. 
  6. That each country will endeavour to put in place the requisite Legal Framework for facilitating the implementation thereof of these our resolutions. 

Agreed this 4th day of June, 2004 by: