GPE’s growing support for refugee education
At a high-level event in New York tomorrow co-hosted by GPE, the education community will discuss further action to ensure refugee children can still go to school. Here’s what GPE is already doing.
September 24, 2018 by Margarita Focas-Licht, Global Partnership for Education
4 minutes read
Students in class at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Credit: UNHCR/Samuel Otieno
Students in class at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
UNHCR/Samuel Otieno

Tomorrow in New York, the Global Partnership for Education is co-hosting a high-level meeting on action for refugee education. The event will bring together key governments and organizations to improve efforts to deliver quality education to refugees.

Education is critical to promoting stability and peace and can provide a visible sign of a return to normalcy for children affected by crises.

Yet when refugees are displaced by conflict and fragility, children’s education is interrupted. As the number of people displaced by conflict and crises continues to grow, it is imperative that years of education are not lost.

32 of GPE’s 67 partner countries are affected by conflict or fragility and over half of GPE’s grant funding supports these countries. We work closely with partners including governments, UNICEF, Save the Children, UNHCR, Education Cannot Wait, and many others to ensure children can continue their education during times of crisis.

For refugee children to continue their education, their needs - and those of the surrounding communities in host countries - must be included in national education sector plans, budgets, programming and monitoring. Time to Act, a new report by Save the Children, highlights the importance of this, and makes recommendations for action by GPE and others.

GPE is working to enhance support to refugee education on key areas in Save the Children’s report: education sector planning, funding, adaptations to GPE’s model in complex emergencies and cross border situations, and new grant mechanisms for knowledge and innovation exchange and advocacy and social accountability.

GPE has a strong track record of supporting education in conflict and fragile contexts.

We support governments to include refugees’ needs in their education sector plans.

Accelerated funding during emergency and early recovery

GPE partner countries can request up to 20% of a grant to be fast-tracked to respond to education needs directly related to a crisis.1 For example, Bangladesh just received US$8.3 million in accelerated funding from GPE to respond to the Rohingya refugee crisis, following the receipt by GPE of the government’s request last month.

The funding will help almost 80,000 children to get an education, most of whom have never been enrolled in school. Two thirds of them are Rohingya refugees located in camps in Cox’s Bazar and one third are Bangladeshi children in surrounding communities. About 2,000 new teachers will be hired and trained, classrooms will be built and learning materials distributed.

Accelerated funding means GPE can redirect resources to a wider range of urgently needed activities arising from the emergency. When Somaliland faced drought and population displacement last year, accelerated funding supported emergency activities including school feeding and water trucking.

In addition, GPE also has a mechanism for effectively shifting funds from development to emergency activities through existing grant programs.

A regional approach

GPE agrees with Save the Children that more systematic support to refugee education is needed, and the GPE Board is set to consider a new approach for funding in regional crises and cross-border support.

GPE is currently working on adaptations needed to respond effectively in complex emergencies and cross-border situations. In many situations, GPE’s core principles and processes around sector planning, local education groups and funding through national systems need to be adapted.

Each crisis is different and as global partners we need to determine where and how to provide support to optimize the longer-term education opportunities of children and youth.

Two new mechanisms will provide support for refugee education

GPE is developing two new mechanisms for Advocacy and Social Accountability (ASA) and Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX), and we welcome the engagement and support of our partners working on refugee education in their development.

KIX aims to strengthen national education systems by engaging developing countries and other partners in knowledge generation, innovation, and capacity strengthening. As part of this, KIX could support sharing of good practice on refugee education through its Learning Exchange and knowledge and innovation funds.

GPE’s ASA mechanism will support public engagement in, and demand for, equitable quality education. It recognizes that effective delivery of support to marginalized groups such as refugees requires skills and funding to engage in shaping education policy. GPE will encourage applications from civil society groups, including transnational civil society movements, to support advocacy and accountability for refugee education.

Political commitment to refugee education

Political commitment to refugee education is strong in many GPE partner countries. For example, in December 2017, the governments of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda committed through the Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education to integrate all refugees in their national education systems by 2020.

GPE is supporting developing country partners on this goal. For example, in Uganda, the GPE Secretariat supported dialogue between the education ministry, the local education group and the Education Cannot Wait fund to develop a long-term plan for refugee education.

Making commitments

As refugees seek safety by crossing borders, support to refugee education must be urgently scaled up.

Tomorrow at the high-level event, we will be making commitments to our work supporting refugee education, through inclusion of refugees in education sector plans, support to improving learning outcomes, and increased funding.

This is a key moment for refugee education: only by working in partnership can we ensure no refugee child is left behind.

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South Asia: Bangladesh

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