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Emergency situations are currently disrupting the education of more than 75 million children across 35 countries.


MIKTA initiative delivered with Australian Aid.


Emergency situations, ranging from tsunamis to armed conflict, are currently disrupting the education of more than 75 million children across 35 countries. Such instability prevents many of these children from receiving the education services they need. Within Syria alone, 150,000 education personnel have been killed since the crisis began; 2.1 million Syrian children are out of school; and one in four schools have been damaged, destroyed, or used for shelter or military purposes. Compounding this issue, worldwide, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys in conflict-affected regions. Governments and organizations are working to address these issues; however, the problem remains chronically under-addressed due in large part to the priority focus on immediate lifesaving needs. In 2013, only 3.4 million out of the 9 million children the humanitarian sector aimed to reach actually received educational services. 

Education provides a foundation for children’s long-term well-being, instilling in them the knowledge and tools they need to thrive mentally, economically, and socially. There is global consensus that education is a basic human right and a fundamental requirement for sustainably moving out of poverty. Very real consequences result from interruptions in education that can affect the long-term economic, social, and political environments of a nation or region. Interruptions in child development often contribute to an underequipped/underperforming workforce that can cause economic roadblocks and feed societal grievances. These grievances can in turn spark conflict, further destabilizing society.   

Displaced students often go long periods of time (as much as 17 years) without schooling. When they do re-enter the formal education sector, their educational needs have often completely changed. Even when students have access to schooling, their psychosocial needs–exacerbated by loss of family, home, and safety—often surpass the capacity of educational systems to address them. Thus, as a crisis continues, students often fail to develop the educational outcomes and skills needed to survive and thrive.

There are many actors working in the education in emergencies space to address these issues; however, these actors often focus on the needs and priorities of immediate response rather than the development of new approaches and strategies. Moreover, agile funding for education in emergencies remains low. We are running this Challenge because we believe it is critical to identify and support innovative approaches to tackling the complexities of education in emergency situations. 

We invite individuals and organizations of diverse expertise and perspectives to join us in this challenge: those who work in the education in emergencies sector, those who have lived through emergency situations themselves, and those innovators and entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing their expertise and ingenuity to this issue. The issues related to education in emergencies are multiple and interconnected, but please read on to learn more about the specific opportunity areas we hope to address together through the Education in Emergencies Challenge.


We're looking for a wide range of innovations that address one or more of the following areas:


During the Ideas Phase, we're calling the global community to action. To participate, all you need to do is create an account, log in, and fill out basic information about your idea. Apply by 25 June at 11:59PM PT! 

On 10 July, we'll announce a set of shortlisted innovations moving forward in the Challenge into a two-week Feedback Phase. During this phase, we will provide a set of resources and ask contributors to get offline and into their communities to ask for feedback on their innovation or undertake a rapid prototyping (though understanding the limitations that security and safety provide for those based in conflict and emergency settings). At the same time, a community of subject matter experts will review and provide feedback to each shortlisted innovation. Contributors will not be able to edit their ideas during this period of time. 

After the Feedback Phase, we will open the Refinement Phase, during which contributors of each shortlisted innovation will have two weeks to apply learnings and make final refinements to their proposal.  We will accept Final revisions until 6 August. 

After a period of review, we look forward to announcing Top Ideas— a set of selected solutions with great potential to increase education outcomes in emergency settings. We will announce the Top Ideas in September 2017! 

We hope this process will be a collaborative learning experience for all teams participating in any phase of the Challenge, accelerating innovative ideas into impactful solutions.  All contributors will have access to resources and collaboration within the OpenIDEO community.


There is an embedded timeline on the platform that may be difficult to navigate with screen readers or other technologies. That timeline is provided below in bullet form.

  • Ideas Phase: 31 May – 25 June 2017 at 11:59PM PT 
  • Shortlist Announced: 10 July 2017 
  • Feedback Phase: 10 July – 23 July 2017 at 11:59PM PT 
  • Refinement Phase: 24 July – 6 August 2017 at 11:59PM PT 
  • Top Ideas: Announced Novemeber 2017


Some of you may be more familiar with human-centered design than others—and that’s OK! Diversity of experience is important. A few human-centered design mindsets are listed below for you to consider as you participate in this Challenge and the creative problem solving process.  Learn more here.

  • Empathy
  • Optimism
  • Embrace Ambiguity
  • Make It
  • Learn from Failure
  • Creative Confidence
  • Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
  • Nothing about us without us


As indicative submission criteria, we are looking for innovations that:

  • Are in the ‘mid spectrum’ in terms of stage of development - more than just an idea but less than ready to scale. For example, concepts that are backed by some analysis, evidence and theory of change; a prototype ready to be tested; or a pilot ready to be implemented as a full project are all at the stage of innovation we are seeking.
  • Are related to core competencies and operational history of yourself, your organization or your consortia
  • Clearly articulate an answer to the challenge question: How might we improve educational outcomes for children and youth—particularly girls—in emergency situations?
  • Could be implemented in one or more of the following emergency situations: sudden onset disaster, protracted crisis, conflict or complex emergencies. For example, emergency situations could include, but are not limited to: natural disaster, armed conflict, prolonged displacement, extreme drought.
  • Would not impose any unnecessary risk on intended beneficiaries or community at-large.

For more detailed information, read the full Submission Criteria that outlines the factors we will take into consideration during shortlisting and final evaluation. Though we encourage and appreciate collaboration across contributors, the number of comments and applauds on your idea are not an evaluation consideration.



Top Ideas will receive a share of about US $1.5 million from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and support to seed and scale their innovations. They will have access to expertise to help them develop and implement their ideas, through a human-centered design lens, reinventing the way to provide education in emergencies.


MIKTA is an innovative partnership that brings together Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia. It is a consultative forum, aimed at advancing members’ shared interests in an international system that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

The Australian Government created the innovationXchange to catalyse and support innovation across the Australian aid program. The innovationXchange identifies, trials and scales up successful approaches. It also forms partnerships to share knowledge and broker new connections so that innovation becomes intrinsic to the delivery of the whole aid program.

This challenge is now over.
365 ideas
365 final ideas
81 final ideas
81 final ideas
72 final ideas
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Challenge team (3)

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Ashley Tillman

Community Manager

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Chelsea Takamine

Challenge Manager

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Christopher Krohn

Challenge Manager