The impact of COVID-19 on refugee education

Digital Long Night of Ideas

19.06.2020 – 10:00 AM – 12.30 PM CEST

The impact of COVID-19 on education for refugees: experiences and learnings for refugee protection.



The COVID-19 outbreak has ignited a major education crisis, exacerbating the risk that inequalities in education will further increase. The closure of schools, universities, technical and vocational training institutes has also affected refugee learners and students. In these challenging times, displaced and refugee students are at a particular disadvantage and there is a risk that progress in increased enrollment may be eroded.

While some countries have quickly rolled out digital learning programs, many regions do not have the means and technical infrastructure to do so, and additional challenges to continuous learning exist.

In this interactive conference organized by UNHCR and Kiron, which is part of the German Federal Foreign Office’s Long Night of Ideas, the panelists examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugee education as one key protection area, and will highlight good practices from different countries through which refugees and their hosts enjoy continued access to education.

The event set the scene for the „Amplify now – Virtual Refugee Conference” on World Refugee Day (20.6.2020) organized by Kiron – an educational platform for refugees worldwide – and created the links to experts who are working on education and refugee protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keynote by Bahati Hategekimana, DAFI Graduate and UNHCR/UNV employee and nurse volunteer in a hospital in Nairobi

Sajjad Malik, Director, Division of Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR

Dr. Tobias Ernst, CEO Kiron Open Higher Education

Emma Wagner, Senior Education Policy and Advocacy Adviser, Save the Children, INEE Advocacy

Ronald Muench, Head of Division Higher Education, Science and Research, Federal Foreign Office Germany

Moderator: Hatice Akyün, Journalist


Breakout sessions:

With a special focus on the participation of refugee students and UNHCR staff and partners at the country level, breakout sessions will allow attendees to participate in in-depth discussions and Q&A with the panelists.

Session 1 – Jordan

What are the enabling factors for successful online learning?

This breakout session presents good practices of investment in Higher Connected Education opportunities in Jordan.


Session 2 – West Africa

How can an education emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic work in a low-tech environment?


Session 3 – East and Southern Africa

How can the private sector contribute to successful online programming?

UNHCR & Vodafone Foundation partnership example

This session looks at how investments like the Instant Network Schools (INS) were leveraged for COVID-19 responses, and what plans are underway to continue to utilize these centres to support catch-up programs as schools reopen.


Session 4 – Germany

Germany’s Vocational Education Training system: An ideal path to refugee integration?

This breakout session discusses the opportunities provided by Germany’s VET system with regard to the (further) development of the skills and competencies of refugees and asylum-seekers, drawing upon one of many examples of dedicated private sector engagement. The session will shed light on the preconditions for successful and sustainable qualification and employment and touch upon the impact of COVID-19.



A detailed concept note can be found here.

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