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Close to half of all refugee children – 48 per cent – remain out of school.

At pre-primary level, the average gross enrolment rate for the academic year 2020 to 2021 for reporting countries was 42 per cent.

For primary level, the corresponding rate for reporting countries was 68 per cent. For secondary level, it was 37 per cent, illustrating that significant structural barriers remain for refugee learners to access post-primary education. At tertiary level, enrolment rates for the same period were at 6 per cent.

This increase, of 3 percentage points since 2019, represents a transformational change for thousands of young people and their communities.

Of the 20.7 million refugees under our care, 7.9 million are refugee children of school age. Their access to education is limited, with almost half of them unable to attend school at all. 

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants pinpoints education as a critical element of the international refugee response. Furthermore, Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to deliver “inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning”. 

UNHCR partners with governments and international organisations to ensure quality protective education for refugee children and young people everywhere.

A group of students in a classroom
International Day of Education 2024

This day embodies a narrative of resilience, hope, and advancement, particularly poignant for the countless refugee children and youth navigating obstacles to access education. 

Together with your help, they can learn how to rebuild their lives.

Education is a basic human right, enshrined in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Education protects refugee children and youth from forced recruitment into armed groups, child labour, sexual exploitation and child marriage. Education also strengthens community resilience.

Education empowers by giving refugees the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives.

Education enlightens refugees, enabling them to learn about themselves and the world around them while striving to rebuild their lives and communities.

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Primary and youth education

The skills learned at primary and secondary levels form the basis of lifelong learning. These enable refugee children and youth to continually build their knowledge and competencies in order to survive and thrive in their personal lives.

Learn about how we support children and youth


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Higher education and skills

UNHCR and its partners are committed to achieving the enrolment of 15% of young refugee women and men in higher education by the year 2030 through initiatives such as the DAFI programme, scholarships, and Connected Learning.

Learn about how we support higher education enrolment


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Teaching about refugees

This page contains a collection of professional resources and teaching materials on refugees, asylum and migration for primary and secondary education, as well as some guidance for teachers working with refugee children in the classroom. 

Visit UNHCR's Teaching About Refugees page.


Reports and publications

Bangladesh. Goodwill Ambassador Atom Araullo makes second visit to Kutupalong camp
From barriers to breakthroughs: progress in primary education for refugees
This report explores how primary education for refugees can be improved in terms of access, quality, finance and policy and assesses the successes achieved.
A young woman wearing a headscarf sits at a desk in a classroon.
2023 Education Report: Unlocking potential: the right to education and opportunity
The report draws on data from more than 70 countries worldwide to provide the most detailed picture yet of the state of refugee education and enrolment.
Jordan.Children back to school in Zaatari camp.
Refugee education statistics: issues and recommendations
This joint paper by UNESCO-UIS and UNHCR undertakes a comprehensive review of data sources to uncover the reasons for the shortage of data on refugee education.

Further resources

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Education briefs

Our education briefs serve field operations and partners as a quick reference note on key thematic education issues.

View all education briefs