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

Searching for promising practices in refugee education

7 March 2017

by Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly and Charlotte Bergin of Save the Children

A joint initiative by Save the Children, UNHCR and Pearson is looking for examples of promising practice that are providing education to refugee children and young people.

Lana wants to be an English teacher. However, after fleeing the war in Syria 3 years ago, Lana has been unable to access education, and her hopes of teaching seem further away than ever. Sadly Lana’s story is not the rarity but the norm. More children and young people are experiencing forced displacement than ever before in history and as a result are missing out on their right to education - and the lifesaving, sustaining and enabling qualities it provides.

It is estimated that 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from their homes, 21 million of whom are registered refugees. Over half of these refugees are under 18, and the over 90% live in low or middle income countries often struggling to provide quality education to the existing population.

Recent UNHCR statistics show that refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than other children, with only 50% accessing primary education and 25% accessing secondary schools. For those children who are able to go to school the quality of education provision is often comprised, with overcrowded classrooms, untrained and unsupported teachers, unfamiliar curricula and language of instruction and limited resources putting student’s development, well-being and learning at risk.

While the picture may seem bleak one only has to look at the work of colleagues across the INEE network to be reminded of the initiatives taking place to try and reach these children and young people with transformative education services – in her recent blog Ruth Naylor highlighted the grassroots activity happening amongst refugee communities, and the recent INEE TPD blog series highlighted multiple efforts to support refugee teachers. Catalysing solutions to refugee education at scale requires increased resources and political will, but also innovative, effective ways of providing educational services.

In an effort to increase awareness and understanding of the important work happening in the sector, Save the Children have partnered with UNHCR, the refugee agency and Pearson the world’s largest education company  to launch ‘Promising Practices in Refugee Education’. Organisations from around the world, whether small grass roots organisations or large INGOs, are invited to submit projects that address one or more of timeliness, access, quality, protection, equity, data, and system strengthening as they relate to education for refugees.

The chosen projects will be given technical support to develop case studies about their work along with a small grant of $1,000 USD in recognition of the costs associated with the documentation process.

These case studies will then form part of a collection that showcases innovative practices from around the world.

We will also be publishing a synthesis report that will be launched at UNGA 2017 and shared widely within the sector and policy makers.

 For more information and to apply please visit  and please do share the link with your own colleagues and networks.

We look forward to being in touch again as the project develops – and to sharing the promising practices that are helping children and young people, like Lana, follow their dreams.


Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly is the Head of Education Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children and is directing the promising Practices initiative. Charlotte Bergin is a Policy & Advocacy Adviser for Education in Emergencies at Save the Children.