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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Refugee Education

Education for refugee children and youth is a critical aspect of UNHCR's international protection mandate. In 2015, refugees were included among the marginalized children and youth that the Education 2030 Agenda and SDG4 aim to serve across humanitarian, development and developed country contexts. The UN refugee agency is currently responding to the largest numbers of refugees since World War II. Half of all refugees are children under the age of 18 and the need for education for these young people, as well as children and youth who are stateless or internally displaced has never been more urgent.


Key Messages

  • Only 61%of all refugee children are enrolled in primary school, and only 23% are estimated to be in secondary school compared to 91% of primary aged children and 84% of secondary aged children globally. Just one percent of young refugees are enrolled in tertiary education compared to 36% of the world’s youth.
  • Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
  • Education protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage among other risks.
  • Education provides a safe place for refugee girls and boys to learn and connect meaningfully with peers within the normal routine of a classroom.
  • Education also strengthens community resilience and helps them to find long term solutions.
  • Education empowers by giving refugees the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives.
  • Education helps refugees to become self-sufficient, enabling them to learn about themselves and the world around them, while striving to rebuild their lives and communities.


Key Activities

The Global Compact on Refugees

At the 2016 UN Summit, world leaders came together to reaffirm the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed the need to protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status. The New York Declaration aims to provide refugee and migrant children with improved access to quality early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education in safe learning environments.

The New York Declaration also lays out a vision for a more predictable and more comprehensive response to these crises, known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, or CRRF. It calls for greater support to refugees and the countries that host them and for UNHCR to work with a range of partners including NGOs and Governments but also the private sector and international financial institutions.  Their mandate together is:

  1. Ease pressure on countries that welcome and host refugees
  2. Build self-reliance of refugees
  3. Expand access to resettlement in third countries and other complementary pathways
  4. Foster conditions that enable refugees voluntarily to return to their home countries.

UNHCR Education Strategy

The strategy aims to increase access to a range of safe, quality education opportunities for refugee children and young people. The UN refugee agency works closely with national authorities to promote the inclusion of refugees and stateless children into national education systems. UNHCR also collaborates with a range of global partners to realize the right to quality education for all refugee children and youth.



The UNHCR Education Briefs provide information and operational guidance on a range of topics.




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