Author: Mary Mendenhall, Susan Garnett Russell, Elizabeth Buckner
Year: 2017
Full Citation: Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., & Buckner, E. (2017). Urban refugee education: Advocacy priorities for policies and programs (Advocacy brief). New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.
Target Population(s):
Overview: Approximately 60% of refugees now live in urban areas. Refugees’ rapid urbanization poses new and distinct challenges for governments and organizations. This brief includes:
  • Major barriers to urban refugee education
  • How can we ensure that urban refugees have access to safe and high-quality educational opportunities?
  • Why integration isn't enough
  • Recommendations for the national Ministry of Education (MoE)
  • Recommendations for UN agencies and international donors
Methodology: The Urban Refugee Education Research Team at Teachers College, Columbia University surveyed 190 participants working for organizations in 16 countries with high proportions of urban refugees and conducted three country case studies in Lebanon, Ecuador and Kenya.
Findings: Government policies guaranteeing access to schooling may not be adequate to provide quality education to urban refugees. Two areas where respondents identified as needing additional support are: teacher training for teachers of refugees, and supporting community schools and/or alternative educational pathways. Our data showed that policy implementation was difficult for host countries for many reasons, including: policies lacking clear operating procedures, poor information dissemination channels, and the significant autonomy of local actors, among other challenges.

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