UNHCR and GPE agree on closer collaboration to ensure children’s education during crisis
Signing of memorandum of understanding between UNHCR and GPE. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

Washington, D.C., April 15, 2016 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) signed a milestone agreement today that will strengthen their collaboration to support education for refugee children and youth.

The agreement comes against the backdrop of millions of children and youth around the world being affected by conflict, disaster, humanitarian emergencies, internal strife and fragility. Globally only one in two refugee children go to primary school, and one in four to secondary. More than half of the world’s out-of-school children live in countries facing war and violence, and are deprived of their right to education. Two-thirds (or 65%) of all refugee children between the ages of 5 and 17 live in GPE partner countries.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education, signed the agreement on the margins of the World Bank Spring Meetings.

When emergencies and crises occur, education is often disrupted for extended periods of time,” said Alice Albright.But even in the most challenging contexts, it is critical to engage in efforts to strengthen education systems and improve coordination to ensure that children can continue to go to school and fulfill their right to an education. Education provides normalcy during chaos and is a foundation upon which everything else can be built.”

Refugee children, like children everywhere, have the right to education. It is fundamental that children who have been uprooted by war and violence are not left behind even further,” said Filippo Grandi. “We urge donors and development organizations to support all efforts to include refugee children and youth in national education systems. Education is essential for all children and especially so for refugee children who have already lost so much.” 

At the global level, the two organizations agreed to collaborate through joint advocacy with national and global partners and donors on the importance of quality education for refugees in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 for education highlighting key challenges and recommendations. There will also be collaboration with other partners, and increased focus and additional funding for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

The two organizations also agreed to strengthen their country-level cooperation. This includes increasing education for refugees through GPE processes; ensuring availability of education statistics related to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs); and UNHCR’s participation in Local Education Groups in countries with IDP and refugee challenges.


The Global Partnership for Education works with 60+ developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The Global Partnership mobilizes financing for education and supports developing countries to build effective education systems founded on evidence-based planning and policies.

Learn more at www.globalpartnership.org and Facebook and Twitter


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees works to provide emergency assistance and protection to more than 60 million displaced people worldwide through its staff of some 9,700 in 126 countries.

Education is a key component of UNHCR’s support to refugees, 51 per cent of whom are under the age of 18. Working in partnership, UNHCR provides opportunities for refugee children and young people to participate in education and training programs, and strengthens livelihood opportunities for young people and their parents, so that families have the means to support themselves.

Learn more at www.unhcr.org and Facebook and Twitter.


For more information:

Alexandra Humme, Media Lead, Global Partnership for Education, ahumme@globalpartnership.org, Tel: 202-458-5511

Brian Hansford, UNHCR spokesperson, Tel: 202-243-7623

Signing of memorandum of understanding between UNHCR and GPE. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

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