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Primary and Youth Education

Primary and Youth Education

UNHCR advocates for access to quality education for refugees of all ages through their inclusion in national education systems.

We aim to ensure access to school, or school-readiness programmes, within the first three months of displacement.  

In this section:

The literacy and numeracy skills learned at primary and secondary level 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.

Quality education helps to develop critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills that are applicable in daily life. It can also foster social cohesion, provide life-saving knowledge and address psychosocial needs.

UNHCR is committed to extending primary and secondary education opportunities to all children and youth. In an effort to address barriers to education, we have worked to improve access and retention of children in primary school through cash grants and vouchers, capacity building for teachers, expansion of safe learning spaces and strengthening partnerships with key education partners.


The Educate A Child (EAC) multi-year programme has helped UNHCR to enrol out-of-school children (OOSC) in primary education, and support their retention once enrolled.

Secondary education offers a critical opportunity for young people to complete formal education. However, since the needs of forcibly displaced adolescents and youth vary in different contexts, it is just one of several education options that should be made available.

UNHCR supports a range of education programmes, designed in close consultation with refugee adolescents and youth. These include:

  • Accelerated Education (AE) programmes to promote access to certified education for children and adolescents who have missed out on substantial amounts of schooling;
  • improved quality of education through digital technology;
  • relevant technical and vocational training;
  • basic literacy and life skills courses.

Helping refugee children to attend schools in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency - Humanitarian Education Accelerator: Young Somali refugee girls finish their school day at Sheder Camp in Jijiga, Ethiopia.

Programme supporting promising humanitarian education innovations on their journey to scale

Learn more about the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG).

A new benchmark for initiatives seeking to ensure that more refugee youth have access to quality post-primary education.

Improving quality of education through digital technology.