Organisations working in the field are invited to submit their projects 

Selected projects will be documented with a view to increasing the knowledge, insights and learnings available from them. The learning from projects will be synthesised and inform our and others’ policy and advocacy efforts in the area of refugee education, thereby contributing to improved educational service delivery and a better policy and enabling environment.

The number of forcibly displaced people is at an all time high

The world is witnessing the highest levels of human displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are over 21 million refugees: people who have fled their country seeking protection from violence or persecution. Over half of the world’s refugees are under the age of 18. 

Share this image with:   Over 3.7M refugee children around the world are out of school. Submit your #promisingpractices

Share this image with: Over 3.7M refugee children around the world are out of school. Submit your #promisingpractices

Half of all refugee children are out of school

Unfortunately the majority of refugee children experience the double jeopardy of losing both their homes and their education. Of the 6 million school-aged refugees under the mandate of UNHCR, 3.7 million are out of school. On average, refugee children are five times less likely to attend school than other children. Girls and children with disabilities are even more likely to be out of school. Whilst the challenges of providing education to the world’s refugee children are multiple and varied, with sustained attention, a commitment to creativity and innovation, together with sufficient political will, we believe they can be overcome.

Recognition of the importance of education for refugees is growing

There is growing recognition of and support for providing services to refugees. During 2016, education in humanitarian situations in general and for refugees in particular has been the focus of the Supporting Syria Conference in London, the World Humanitarian Summit, the UN General Assembly and the Obama Leaders’ Summit. Education for refugees was also a principal driver of the establishment of the Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies and crises. But significant barriers to ensuring all refugee children and young people can participate in quality education persist.

In line with SDG 4, UNHCR promotes strengthening of national education systems to be able to effectively include all refugee children and young people at all levels of education as the most sustainable way of answering their needs and ensuring quality and certified education. Inclusion into national education systems is also an opportunity for social cohesion. . With high numbers of children and young people having missed out on schooling, accelerated and flexible forms of education provide a viable way for many towards certified learning. Given the particular circumstances refugees find themselves in, language and psycho-social support as well as an adequate supply of trained and motivated teachers are some vital ingredients for successful inclusion of refugee learners in national education systems. 

Share this image with:  Only 1 in 4 refugee young people has access to secondary school. Submit your #promisingpractices

Share this image with: Only 1 in 4 refugee young people has access to secondary school. Submit your #promisingpractices

Identifying new approaches that are closing the refugee education gap

Catalysing solutions to refugee education at scale requires increased resources and political will as well as new ways of providing educational services. While innovative practices in refugee education exist, they are often not well known or understood outside of their context.

This initiative proposes to identify, document and promote some of these creative ways of educational service provision. We hope to shine a particular light on efforts to improve equity and inclusion, the engagement of refugee children and youth, effective systems strengthening as well as innovative approaches in refugee education provision more generally.

We’re not looking for silver bullets. But we do believe that some practices hold the potential to complement existing practices and contribute to effective programming, , and ultimately accelerate improvements in learning for refugees, and we’d like to find those and share them.

The Promising Practices in Refugee Education initiative

The ‘Promising Practices in Refugee Education’ initiative consequently aims to:

  • Build on the fact that education is a human right, is essential for personal development, central to refugee protection and a critical enabler of community leadership via a systematic approach to the identification, documentation and amplification of promising practices in the field of refugee education;
  • Produce a high quality body of evidence, drawn from projects on the ground that both individually and together, via documentation and synthesis, will contribute to globally available knowledge;
  • Inform our and others’ policy and advocacy on the provision ofeducation for refugees, thereby contributing to improved educational service delivery and a better policy and enabling environment.




1. UNHCR (2016) Global Trends: Forced Displacement 2015, UNHCR
2. UNHCR (2016) Missing Out: Refugee Crisis in Education, UNHCR

Photo credits:

Syrian children playing. © Ahmad Baroudi | Save the Children

Zarpari, aged 6, an Afghan refugee living in Pakistan, studies at school. © UNHCR

Esther, aged 18, a South Sudanese refugee studies at boarding school in northern Kenya. © Anthong Karumba | UNHCR