Education took center stage at the first Global Refugee Forum

The first Global Refugee Forum, co-hosted by UNHCR and Switzerland, has concluded its three-day gathering in Geneva. The Forum sought to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations and generate new approaches and long-term commitments from the international community.

December 19, 2019 by GPE Secretariat
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1 minute read
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Clockwise from top left: Anna-Maria Tammi, Education Specialist, GPE; Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International; Luke Pye, Associate Project Officer, UNESCO; Alice Albright, CEO of GPE; Keiko Miwa, Education Director, World Bank
Clockwise from top left: Anna-Maria Tammi, Education Specialist, GPE; Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International; Luke Pye, Associate Project Officer, UNESCO; Alice Albright, CEO of GPE; Keiko Miwa, Education Director, World Bank
GPE/Peter Carlson

The first Global Refugee Forum, co-hosted by UNHCR and Switzerland, has concluded its three-day gathering in Geneva. The Forum sought to transform the way the world responds to refugee situations and generate new approaches and long-term commitments from the international community.

Among the nearly 26 million refugees worldwide, half are children under the age of 18.  Of these children, nearly 4 million remain out of the classroom.

With education one of the six focus areas of the Forum, the Global Partnership for Education shared its progress in supporting countries to include refugees in schools and build strong, resilient and inclusive education systems.

Focus on more funding and inclusive education systems

Throughout the Forum, governments, development partners, NGOs and other actors stressed the importance of more funding for refugee education. Currently, only around 3% of humanitarian budgets are directed towards educational purposes.

With more children to educate and limited budgets, countries are often faced with a difficult financial trade-off.

During the Spotlight session “Financing the Education Commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees”, the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait announced a joint pledge to improve the coordination and financing of efforts in support of education for refugees and host communities.

GPE also announced the expansion of the accelerated funding mechanism through US$250 million in available funds for countries facing emergency situations, including refugee crises.

Forum participants also stressed the importance of inclusive education systems. The Spotlight session “Inclusion of Refugees in National Education Systems” brought to light good practices and innovative country-led initiatives that have made the inclusion of refugee, asylum seeking and displaced children and youth in national education systems a reality.

Emphasizing the critical role of a multi-stakeholder approach, the High-Level Dialogue on Education provided host governments, donor governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, global finance and development partners, philanthropic foundations and the private sector to share their pledges and commitments to achieve the education goals of the Global Compact on Refugees.

Alice Albright, CEO of GPE, stressed the need to increase financial and technical support to countries so that all children, including refugees, have access to a quality education.

"We must make policy tools available to enable inclusion. We must invest in teachers. We must strengthen the voices of civil society and local community-based organizations that provide support to hosts and refugees."

Alice Albright

She also highlighted the specific challenges faced by girls.

"Girls are particularly vulnerable in refugee settings and we must stand with them and help break down the barriers that they face in getting a quality education. We must put a gender equality lens in all that we do.”

Alice Albright

The Forum concluded with 774 total individual and joint pledges and contributions to help achieve the Global Compact on Refugees.

Additional highlights from the Global Refugee Forum

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