Feature Story

Importance of Education Among Refugees

Author | Michael Aguero Bol

Education has always been considered the most promising path to peronal betterment and capacity building, as well as the economic and social development of any person. It is important to add that many parents around the globe wish to be able to take their kids to school and pursue their hearts desires precisely to such ends. However, for refugees and other displaced persons battling with limited access to food, clothing, labour market opportunities, and other public goods, access to education is seldom the priority it is for others.

The results of recent research by the United Nations foundation provides compelling evidence that access to education remains a great challenge for students from a refugee background. Its findings suggest that these students are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children. The UN refugee agency suggests that only 50% of refugee children have access to primary school worldwide, only 22% of displaced adolescents have access to lower secondary education, and only 1% of refugees attend university. Furthermore, on average, less than 2% of humanitarian aid goes toward education.

Communities of refugees often face multilateral challenges which make it difficult to draw permanent resources to the education sector. Yet, these same resources will ensure not only fiscal sustainability to refugee programs, but affords students the skills and knowledge to contribute to their new nations; in other words, to return the investment of their new homes.

To improve the quality of refugee education, planners and other stakeholders have to look beyond counting the number of children sitting in classrooms and start to focus on learning and other key factors. For instance, adult literacy, special education, vocational training and scholarships for tertiary education are a few, as yet underexplored opportunities. This should also be accompanied by investments in traditional educational resources such as infrastructure as well as quality educators. As the world emerges from the economic uncertainty of COVID-19, as well as multiple global conflicts, the needs for these investments will only become more prescient, and the consequences of ignoring them will become only more grave.