Author: Mary Mendenhall, Susan Garnett Russell, Elizabeth Buckner
Year: 2017
Full Citation: Mendenhall, M., Russell, S.G., & Buckner, E. (2017). Urban refugee education: Strengthening policies and practices for access, quality and inclusion (Policy Report). New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.
Overview: Given the current global refugee crisis, the aim of this report is to contribute to the discussion around the distinct educational needs of urban refugees. We focus on countries in developing regions since 86% of refugees reside in the Global South (UNHCR, 2016). Our study presents data from three sources: a review of existing global and national laws and policies related to the provision of education for refugees; a global survey; and three country case studies. This report provides insights and recommendations from the 16-country global survey and case studies in Beirut, Nairobi, and Quito.
Methodology: We conducted a global survey with 190 respondents working for organizations providing educational services to urban refugees in 16 countries across four world regions. We also carried out in-depth interviews with more than 90 stakeholders (including government officials; personnel working for UN agencies, international and national NGOs; and principals and teachers) in three country case studies (Lebanon, Kenya, and Ecuador).
Findings: We conclude the report with the following two broad overarching policy goals for national governments, UN agencies, donors, and civil society organizations and several specific recommendations for providing education to urban refugees.
  1. Given the gravity, scale and duration of refugee-producing crises around the world, national governments, UN agencies, and donors must support full integration and inclusion of refugee students into national schools.
  2. In complement to these efforts, civil society organizations need to support the provision of non-formal education programs to fill the needs and gaps not met by government schools.
Civil society organizations, including national and international NGOs, should support the provision of formal and non-formal education that addresses the distinct needs of refugee students, such as psychosocial issues, skills development, language support, combatting discrimination and xenophobia, and academic support for lost years of schooling.

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