Ensuring all refugee children have access to quality education

More than half of the world’s refugee children – 4 million – are not in school. They face the double jeopardy of losing both their homes and their education. Without an education, these children do not have a future.

A child’s right to an education should not end in times of emergency. In times of crisis, education can play a life-saving and life-sustaining role. Education sets refugee children up for success. It provides them with hope and the means for a strong future.

Unless efforts are made to reach those furthest left behind, especially refugee children, the world will not meet Sustainable Development Goal 4 – inclusive, quality education for all.

In 2016, the New York Declaration made an ambitious commitment to ensure that refugee children would be in school and learning within a few months of becoming refugees.

Building on the commitments in the New York Declaration, the Global Compact for Refugees has been in development for two years and is due to be adopted in 2018.

We lay out three pillars where action is required to deliver quality educational opportunities for refugee children:

  • Inclusion: support for including refugees in national education systems
  • Improvement: increasing efforts to improve quality teaching and ensure refugee and host community children are learning
  • Investment: mobilising the funding necessary to scale up access to quality learning opportunities for refugee children

Despite the challenges, progress is possible and the time to act is now.


Venetia's story

Venetia is 9 years old and dreams of going to school but because of the crisis in South Sudan, had to escape and come to Uganda. Currently a refugee with her family in Uganda, Venetia now goes to a Save the Children-supported education programme so she can continue her education.


Our Progress

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Education Cannot Wait
May 2016
Education Cannot Wait: the fund for education in emergencies launched at the World Humanitarian Summit

Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt participated to the special session (led by UN education envoy Gordon Brown) on education in emergencies. Helle highlighted the Every Last Child campaign call that no child be out of education for more than a month in her speech, high level representatives from Lebanon and the Netherlands referred to this call in their own remarks.

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Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson join forces to tackle refugee education crisis
September 2017
Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson join forces to tackle refugee education crisis

Save the Children, UNHCR, and Pearson have launched a new report, called Promising Practices in Refugee Education, which sets out 10 critical recommendations for improving global refugee education policy and practice to ensure vulnerable refugee children and young people can access the quality education they desperately need.

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Breakthrough in education
March 2018
Breakthrough in education for migrant children in

The Royal Thai Government (RTG) adopted "Education for All" in 1990 – this Thai law stipulates that all children, regardless of their nationality or legal status, have the right to 15 years of free basic education. Thailand’s Office of the Education Council announced their commitment to develop a data system that allows enrolment of 225,000 unidentified migrant children in schools.

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Blogs and Stories

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UNESCO Global Education Monitoring report echoes our recommendations & data on refugee education

This year’s UNESCO Global Education Monitoring report Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls published today echoes numerous findings and recommendations we have been...

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Refugee education... Hear it from the teachers!

Even with no classroom, no books, no blackboard, or no chalk – if there is a good teacher, children will learn. ...

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Venezuelan migrant crisis: From Iraq to Colombia, human suffering is the same everywhere

As I flew into Colombia, I couldn’t help but look back at the previous nine months I had spent in Iraq. Nine months of recording stories about people losing homes, limbs and loved ones....

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