World Refugee Day 2017

20 June 2017



With one person in every 113 forced to flee their homes because of conflict or persecution, the world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. For children and young people, this means leaving behind their school, familiar faces and teachers.

Education has all-too-often been neglected in humanitarian responses.  Consequently, there are millions of out-of-school children and youth. Only half of refugee children are in primary school and one quarter are in secondary school.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, held each year on 20 June, IIEP brings to the forefront several initiatives aimed at improving the plight of refugee youth and children through better educational planning and management.


Who teaches refugees?


Teachers are the key to success in any education system. This is no exception during times of emergency or crisis. Teachers provide continuity, enable learning, and help develop social and emotional skills. Yet, little is known about who teaches refugee children and how these vital actors are managed during times of great incertitude. 

Together with the Education Development Trust, IIEP is launching a research project in six countries –Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – to gain a deeper understanding of teacher management policies, programmes and practices in refugee contexts. It also aims to raise awareness among decision-makers in relevant ministries about education and teacher policies for refugee youth and children.

Over the next several years, the project will use a variety of quantitative and qualitative research approaches – including interviews with teachers – to help create evidence-based policy options for governments striving to provide a quality teaching force for refugee children and youth.

The project will pay particular attention to these areas of teacher management: recruitment, certification, professional development, and incentives and retention of teachers

Photo credit: UNHCR


Improving education for refugees in Ethiopia


Surrounded by countries mired in conflict, Ethiopia has become one of Africa’s largest hubs for refugees and the fifth largest hosting country in the world. In 2016, UNHCR reported that the country was sheltering close to 800,000 refugees, of which nearly 60 per cent were children.

While there are a myriad of education coordination groups working at federal, regional and district levels – or woreda as locally known in the Amharic language –to provide education, a number of challenges persist. Communication and coordination between the various groups is limited, as well as planning between the different agencies involved in providing education to refugee and host communities.

To help strengthen the coordination, planning and management of education, IIEP recently launched together with UNICEF Ethiopia a new two and a half year programme to develop capacities of both government and refugee coordinating bodies in five Ethiopian regions grappling with the high influx of refugees. Through a joint school mapping process at both woreda and regional levels, the overall aim is to help ensure equity in the provision of education both in and out of the refugee camps.

Click here to read UNICEF’s Ethiopia education factsheet.


Global discussions around refugees


Communities and countries worldwide are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the refugee crisis today. In response, global conversations are taking place with new urgency on how to ensure refugees are guaranteed their rights around health, safe shelter, and access to food and increasingly, a quality education.

In October 2016, together with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Education Above All (EAA) through its Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict Programme (PEIC), IIEP organized an e-Forum to discuss how governments and their partners can better plan for the provision of quality education for displaced populations.

Hosted on IIEP’s virtual platform, the two-week e-Forum brought together 473 participants from 86 countries, including ministry of education officials, humanitarian and development partners, and refugees that were or had been involved in educational policy development and planning.

The discussions touched on access, quality of education (including the dearth of teachers and curriculum choices), and educational management, including the need for reliable data on displaced populations and issues around cost and national education budgets. The forum has led to deeper discussions among partners and has paved the way for IIEP’s follow-up work in supporting ministries plan for refugees’ education.

Read more about the e-Forum here.