UNESCO pledges its renewed support for refugees’ education at Global Refugee Forum


At least 35% of refugee children were not attending primary school and at least 75% of adolescents were not getting secondary education in 2018 according to UNHCR. Just 3% of refugees were enrolled in higher and tertiary education globally, compared to 38% of non-refugee students.

It is against this backdrop that UNESCO is announcing its pledge at the first Global Refugee Forum, which is taking place on 17 and 18 December 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum represents the determination of the international community to strengthen its solidarity with refugees and the countries that host them.   

UNESCO, with the support of the Governments of Sweden, Norway and Switzerland together with Education Cannot Wait, Dubai Cares and the Global Partnership for Education, pledges to strengthen national education systems by providing Member States with expertise and technical guidance for policy design, implementation and planning support for the inclusion of refugees into all levels of national education systems.

This assistance includes:

  • Support for the recognition of prior learning and qualifications;
  • Advance the inclusion of refugees through better data;
  • Improve the use of data among education actors to prevent, mitigate and prepare for crises;
  • Develop capacities for educational planning with host and refugee communities; and
  • Supporting the alignment of curricula, languages of instruction, teaching and learning modalities.

UNESCO’s assistance will recognize the importance of gender equality and commit to focusing efforts on the most disadvantaged, especially those with disabilities.

In line with this pledge, UNESCO will:

  • Conduct applied research, produce policy guidance and map good practices to support national and local authorities in their efforts to include refugees in their education systems
  • Provide technical cooperation to Member States to reinforce capacities to plan and manage crises and foster inclusion in and through education
  • Complete piloting of the UNESCO Qualifications Passport in three countries (Zambia, Iraq, and Colombia) by the end of 2020
  • Convene an International Conference on Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS) in crisis settings in April 2020

Advancing the Global Compact on Refugees

The Global Refugee Forum is an occasion for the international community to advance the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims to improve the international response to new and existing refugee situations. The Compact was established by the UN General Assembly in December 2018 to ensure that refugees and the people hosting them receive the support they need. 

Co-hosted by UNHCR and Switzerland, and co-convened by Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Pakistan and Turkey, the Forum is a key platform for mobilizing political will, broadening the base of support, and implementing arrangements that facilitate more equitable, sustained, and predictable responsibility-sharing. It is an opportunity to translate the principle of international commitment into concrete action.

On the margins of the Forum, UNESCO will host a High-Level event titled “Planning education for people on the move in the context of climate change” on 17 December. The event will focus on the intersection between people on the move and the climate crisis and explore how to plan education to guarantee inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.