Loading Events

« All Events

Urban Refugee Education Roundtable: Shaping an Agenda for Research, Policy, and Practice

October 3, 2016 @ 8:30 am - 7:15 pm

Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center
Washington, D.C.

Urban Refugee Education

Now available: The Summary Report of the Event.
The summary report includes the notes from the closing session, which distilled the discussions of the day into emerging key priorities such as:

  • Support integration of refugee learners into formal education systems & provide quality non-formal education
  • Revise or adapt education sector plans and the planning process
  • Support the development of education in emergencies units
  • Strengthen EMIS systems and other data collection
  • Link policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Strengthen policy alignment and implementation from national to local levels
  • Strengthen teacher professional development
  • Develop and facilitate meaningful exchange opportunities for host and refugee community members

If you are interested in collaborating with USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (ECCN) on any of these, please contact us at usaideccn@edc.org.

The Urban Refugee Education Roundtable brought together nearly 100 diverse actors from the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, universities, donor agencies, and other interested stakeholders, both to critically reflect on what we know and don’t know about urban refugee education and to help shape a collaborative agenda for research, policy, and practice.

Keynote addresses  by US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID’s Associate Administrator Eric Postel. For recordings of these addresses, please refer to the links in the agenda below.

Featured expert address by Ita Sheehy, Senior Education Advisor, UNHCR

Urban Refugees presentation cover

Learn more about the event and the Teachers College presentation

This interactive event provided a forum for presenters and participants alike to share the opportunities and challenges that arise while working with refugees in urban spaces as well as their ideas for improving the ways in which we support urban refugee education in the future.

Roundtable objectives:

  • Facilitate learning across organizations and actors about the opportunities and challenges they confront in their efforts to develop educational policies and/or deliver educational programs in urban spaces.
  • Contribute to the development of a shared agenda that includes policy, practice, and research priorities.
Join The Conversation



Time Session Speakers
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Arrival and Registration (coffee/tea, light breakfast)
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Welcome Cornelia Janke, ECCN

Mary Mendenhall, Teachers College, Columbia University
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Featured Expert: Taking Stock: What Do We Know And Not Know About Refugees in Urban Areas?

Brief Q&A with audience

Ita Sheehy, Senior Education Advisor, UNHCR
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. USAID and State Department Perspectives on Supporting Refugee Education in Urban Contexts Challenges and Opportunities in Urban Refugee Education
Eric G. Postel, Associate Administrator, USAID

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Coffee Break
10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Urban Refugee Education: Strengthening Policies and Practices for Access, Quality and Inclusion

The study was funded by the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

Elizabeth Buckner, Mary Mendenhall, Susan Garnett Russell (with support from Peter Bjorklund, Jihae Cha, Dominique Spencer), Teachers College, Columbia University

Discussant: Elizabeth Ferris, Research Professor at Georgetown University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch
1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Lightning Presentations and Small Group Discussions

Policies and Programs for Urban Refugee Education: Highlights from Afghanistan, Colombia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, and Syria

Margaret Njayakio, assistant education officer, UNHCR Kenya

Marina Lopez-Anselme, chief technical officer, RET International

Laura Evans, learning and accountability coordinator, Relief International

Laura Phelps, Urban Displacement Adviser, Norwegian Refugee Council

Sonia Ben Ali, Co-founder and Executive Director, Urban Refugees

Maya Alkateb, Director, Jusoor

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Break
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm Teachers and Learners’ Perspectives on Education and Migration Vidur Chopra, Sarah Dryden-Peterson and Lizzie Adelman, Harvard University

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Closing session: Shaping an Agenda for Research, Policy and Practice Dean Brooks, director, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, INEE
5:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Social Hour / Networking Event (by invitation only)


Introduce yourself and share your resources/comments below
American Institutes for Research
British Council
Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide US
Core Global Partners
Creative Associates International
Dobility (SurveyCTO)
Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
Education Global Access Program
FHI 360
Georgetown University
Harvard University
Institute of International Education
Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Juarez & Associates
Mercy Corps
New York University
Norwegian Refugee Council
Peace Corps
Plan International USA
Refugee Education Trust
Relief International
RET International
Save the Children
Save the Children USA
School-to-School International
Search for Common Ground
SIL International
Social Impact, Inc.
Teachers College, Columbia University
Thompson & Associates
UN Girls’ Education Initiative
University of California
University of California, San Diego
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Urban Refugees
U.S. State Department
U.S. State Dept. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
The Women Worldwide Initiative
World University Service of Canada (WUSC)
World Vision International

Related ECCN Online Resources

The Refugee Crises in Africa and Europe: We Are All in It Together (blog post)

Youth Leading Education and Peacebuilding in Conflict and Crisis Settings – Their Reach and Impact (blog post)

Webcast: The U.N. Security Council Resolution on Youth, Peace, and Security and Its Impact on Education (webcast)


The roundtable is co-sponsored by USAID Education in Crisis and Conflict Network (ECCN), Teachers College-Columbia University (whose research on urban refugee education has been funded by the U.S. Department of State), and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).
  1. Sonia Ben Ali 3 years ago

    Many thanks Bettina for kick starting this conversation.

    I would like to share an initial thought and question in relation to what was discussed at the event. As acknowledged on various occasions by both academics and NGO practitioners, refugee-led organisations have the potential to play a key role in enabling urban refugee children to access education, tapping into the existing skills in the community to provide courses. Successful examples do exist in this matter, like the Cisuara Refugee Learning Center in Indonesia, a school led by Hazara refugees in the outskirt of Jakarta: http://cisarualearning.com/ or the Afghan Community Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: http://naccmy.wixsite.com/website

    Yet too often this kind of initiatives lack the necessary funds and support to emerge and / or develop. One of the key obstacles is access to funding, considering many leaders of such organisations have limited capacities / knowledge in  fundraising and financial management.

    I would be curious to know whether some people here know of any ‘donors best practice’ that would have enabled such organisations to access funding? Does anyone has any insight on how such refugee-led organisations could best be supported in providing education to children and / or concrete example to share about how this has been done in a particular country?

  2. Bettina Dembek 3 years ago

    Let me briefly introduce myself: I’m the Communications, Logistics, and Events Specialist for ECCN and want to invite you all to continue the rich conversations and resource sharing that we have begun as part of the the Urban Refugee Education Roundtable. Close to 100 people representing about 50 different organizations attended in person.

    As you can see on this site, we have put a collection of what we hope to be useful resources for you online to share what happened at the event and where we are going from here. If you are one of the 100 participants, please feel free to post your key message or any related resources to this site. If you couldn’t make it to the event but have also some thoughts or resources to share, we encourage you to join in the dialogue here and now.

    ECCN will update this website frequently to add more resources and information as it becomes available. So stay tuned, check-in regularly and participate.

Leave a reply

©2019 ECCN. All rights reserved. See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account