Transforming our Understanding of Refugee Teachers and Teaching in Contexts of Forced Displacement 

UNHCR, UNESCO Taskforce on Teachers for 2030, the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies, and Education International

Teachers in areas affected by emergencies and forced displacement are often invisible in national education sector planning and budgets. Yet in refugee-hosting contexts, refugee teachers count more than any other school-level factor for children and youths’ learning and well-being. Despite this fact, too many refugee teachers, who are experiencing the trauma of displacement themselves, contend with a lack of recognition, inadequate compensation, and poor working conditions. Where refugee teachers are needed most, barriers to entry, and inflexible and inconsistent financing mechanisms continue to compound the global teacher shortage. In protracted crises, current approaches lead to a lack of predictable multi-year funding and tangible support that would enable refugee teachers to become qualified and enter national systems.

With the aim of including these issues on the Transforming Education Summit Action Track 3 Agenda and working towards a harmonized understanding of refugee teachers and teaching in refugee hosting settings, this meeting brought together representatives from UNHCR, UNESCO Taskforce on Teachers for 2030, the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies, Education International, teachers, youth representatives, and member state representatives to discuss and debate three key provocations:

  • Who do we consider to be “teachers” in refugee hosting settings? Might new definitions and pre-conditions for entry into the profession address the global teacher shortage? 
  • How, if at all, do we recognize community and refugee teachers as part of the professional teacher workforce in refugee hosting settings?
  • What are the limitations or barriers of current financing mechanisms and what innovative approaches exist to overcome financing challenges? 

This session also was an opportunity to give refugee teachers and youth a voice to share their experiences and inform the agenda for transforming education provision in crisis settings.  A key outcome of this meeting was a memo of recommendations, produced by INEE and UNHCR meeting moderators, and submitted to the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, in its role of co-lead of the Thematic Action Track 3, for consideration and inclusion in subsequent Transforming Education Summit statements.

Remote video URL
Thematic Focus Area 3: Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession Video Global