Education in emergencies: educating refugees
15 January 2019
We have been working in fragile and conflict-affected states as well as in contexts of forced displacement for more than 20 years. During this time, we have conducted key research into education in emergencies; here, Head of Research Anna Riggall reflects on our findings.
'The desire to make a difference: the supervisors we work with in Jordan are passionate about this vision and why it is so important. In the classrooms, the refugee children will the new teachers on as they improve their teaching day-by-day.
'Meanwhile, in the makeshift classroom in Lebanon where the state system is at capacity, alternative school settings are flourishing and the appetite to learn – and to teach – is as strong. Our language courses for teachers, customised to meet the needs of the teachers working in non-formal education and many of whom are refugees themselves, are welcomed with open arms. The teachers want to continue their mission to teach; they want to help pave a way out of the situation they find themselves in and they want to ensure that generations aren't lost.'
Lina Aghajanian, Project Manager and lead on Education Development Trust’s professional development programme for teachers of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon
We are working with Syrian refugees in both Lebanon and Jordan, building on the existing skillsets of teachers and leaders in the teaching of English and subjects taught in English. The challenges faced are numerous and constant: from identifying a suitable classroom or school building to establishing a practical language of instruction and from finding and supporting teachers to ensuring they are remunerated.
We have been working in fragile and conflict-affected states as well as in contexts of forced displacement for more than 20 years: from large-scale post-conflict education capacity building and reform in Cambodia (1997-2017), Rwanda (2001-206) and Somalia (late 1990s-2017) to providing immediate technical assistance in Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe among others. Today, we are using the ringfenced funds following our merger with the Alexandria Schools Trust in 2014 to support the training of teachers of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.
Evidence: informing our work, informing policy
As a learning organisation, our work is evidence informed and our work on education in emergencies includes developing a notable evidence base to influence global and agency policy drivers. Our work facilitates evidence-based dialogue among policymakers and informs our direct implementation of education programmes in refugee and conflict-affected contexts.
Our evidence base is significant and education for refugees and internally displaced persons continues to be a focus of our research work.
From 2007 to 2009 we worked in partnership with IIEP UNESCO on a £250,000 research programme on education in emergencies and reconstruction. The research included field work in Jordan, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Timor Leste and Uganda, including refugee contexts. This joint research programme resulted in the publication of four books and accompanying policy briefs:
Donors' engagement: supporting education in fragile and conflict-affected states
Alternative education: Filling the gap in emergency and post-conflict situations
Rapid response: programming for education needs in emergencies
Promoting participation: community contributions to education in conflict situations
The impact of forced displacement on education featured in our analysis during 2014 and 2015 of the quantitative impact of conflict on education which also included four case studies on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. This work was carried out in partnership with Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) except for the Syria case study which was commissioned by Save the Children.
The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education
Ndaruhutse, S. and West, A. (2015). The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education in Syria. A research report for Save the Children UK.
Jones, A. and Naylor, R. (2014). The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education in Pakistan: counting the human and financial costs. Doha: PEIC and Reading: CfBT Education Trust.
Jones, A. and Naylor, R. (2014). The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: counting the human and financial costs.
Jones, A. and Naylor, R. (2014). The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education in Nigeria: counting the human and financial costs.
We are currently conducting research on the role of refugee teachers in non-formal education. The research is taking place in Lebanon in cooperation with the American University of Beirut and focuses on refugee teachers from Syria. The purpose of the study is to investigate the role played by refugee teachers and their needs to fully achieve their potential within the scope of education in emergencies. For this purpose, the study is undertaking the following main activities:
- Revision of the existing literature on the role of refugee teachers in non-formal education
- Mapping (survey) the expertise, skills and professional development needs of displaced Syrian teachers in Lebanon
- In-depth analysis of the profiles of the displaced Syrian teachers in Lebanon, including the challenges and opportunities facing them (participatory action research methodology)
The research will provide a substantial contribution to the current debate on the role of refugee teachers in the education in emergencies and to future policies to maximise the potential role of refugee teachers. Results of the research are expected in Jan/Feb 2019. The work is being led by Dr Serena Rossignoli.
Our research within the UK has also explored the best ways to support refugees and asylum seekers. For example Supporting asylum seeker and refugee children (2006) compared the approaches of different local authorities to supporting asylum seeker and refugee pupils in UK schools while Smoothing the path (2009) looked at careers advice provision for disadvantaged adults in the UK, including refugees.
Kendall, S., Guilliver, C., and Marin, K. (2006). Supporting asylum seeker and refugee children. Reading: CfBT Education Trust. www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/ARC01/ARC01.pdf
Hawthorn, R. and Alloway, J. (2009). Smoothing the path: advice about learning and work for disadvantaged adults. Reading: CfBT Education Trust. www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com/en-GB/our-research/our-research-library/2009/r-smoothing-the-path-2009