The UNICEF School-in-a-Box is a portable aluminum container stuffed to the brim with hundreds of implements and supplies that enable children and teachers to create an instant classroom—no matter where they are. The contents of the kit are not culturally specific so that they can be used anywhere in the world. The project has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations around the world. The purpose of the kit is to ensure the continuation of children's education by the first 72 hours of an emergency.
The primary objective of the School-in-a-Box is to help re-establish learning as the first step towards the restoration of normal schooling following an emergency. However, it can also be used in development situations where a country suddenly faces an influx of students (e.g. if school fees are abolished at once) and supplies are needed urgently. The Revised School-in-a-Box Kit is on the Emergency Education list.
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, a wind-op/solar radio 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 metal box, the School-in-a-Carton, is also available, as is a replenishment kit.
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The UNICEF School in a Box Kits have been assembled and deployed from the UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen since 1995. Exact numbers of children and teachers reached are unknown.