Research

Teacher management in refugee settings: Ethiopia

Stephanie Bengtsson

Rachael Fitzpatrick
Katja Hinz

Leonora MacEwen

Ruth Naylor
Anna Riggall
Helen West

Globally, there are 70.8 million forcibly displaced persons. Among these are 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are children. Effective teacher management is key to ensuring inclusive, equitable, quality education for these young people, and teachers constitute the most important factor affecting student learning. In crisis and displacement situations, the role of teachers is particularly significant: they are sometimes the only resource available to students. This report investigates teacher management in refugee contexts in Ethiopia, and is the first in a series of country reports. It contributes to a burgeoning body of evidence about teachers in refugee contexts and aims to provide policy guidance to support ministries of education.

A programme of research 

In 2018, IIEP-UNESCO and Education Development Trust jointly published a review of the literature relating to teacher management in refugee contexts. The review concludes that for displaced populations, realising their legal rights, where afforded, can be challenging when international frameworks have not been ratified or adapted into national legal frameworks. It can be equally difficult when legal frameworks are poorly integrated into social service policies, plans and strategies (for example, within national education sector plans). 

The review also concludes that much of the literature indicates that teachers from the refugee community are best placed to teach refugee children, or should – at the very least – play a part in their education provision. Many host countries are aware of this, and are utilising refugees to support national teachers, as is the case to some extent in Ethiopia, Kenya and Turkey. Nevertheless, in most contexts, more and more national teachers are teaching refugees in host countries, with very limited support and preparation. Fragmented information on refugee teachers, coupled with a lack of information on the host teachers charged with refugee students’ education, points to a need for more research.  

Following the review’s conclusions, IIEP-UNESCO and Education Development Trust embarked on a series of country studies. At the time of writing, there are four completed or underway. These include this report on Ethiopia, plus a further three country studies taking place in Kenya, Uganda and Jordan. 

Ethiopia country study 

Ethiopia was chosen as the first country to be studied for this research programme on effective teacher management in refugee contexts because it is home to one of the largest refugee populations in Africa. Moreover, it has made significant policy commitments to increasing protection and support for refugees through a range of ambitious policy pledges and legal frameworks.  

The report contributes to a burgeoning body of research focused on teachers in refugee contexts. It aims to provide policy guidance to support ministries of education. The study identifies promising policies and implementation strategies that exist for the management of primary-level teachers in refugee hosting regions and reveals potential areas for further development of policies and successful implementation.