UNHCR partners with the Government of Iran, especially the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA) and the Ministry of Education, to facilitate refugees’ access to quality primary and secondary education.

In May 2015, Iran began allowing all Afghan children of school age to attend primary and secondary school regardless of their documentation status. This has allowed for equal access to education for all.

Primary and Secondary education

In Iran, UNHCR co-funds the construction of schools in refugee-populated areas. Between 2016-2022, UNHCR supported the construction of 81 schools so that refugee, undocumented and Iranian children have the same opportunity to get an education. In 2023, UNHCR is supporting the government by co-funding the completion of the construction of 10 schools whose construction commenced in 2022.

According to the Ministry of Education, the number of Afghan and Iraqi children enrolled in primary and secondary schools in 2023 is 800,080, including 380,000 undocumented children.

Higher Education

Higher education nurtures a generation of future change-makers that can take the lead in identifying solutions to refugee situations. Higher education is a priority for UNHCR outlined in the Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Education, forming an integral part of UNHCR’s protection and solutions mandate.

Refugees in Iran can access higher education, by obtaining a national passport and applying for a student visa. They can also receive support to cover their tuition fees and living allowances while undertaking their undergraduate studies, thanks to the DAFI Scholarship, which UNHCR implements with the Iranian NGO Pars Development Activists institute (PDA). In 2023, some 469 refugee students will benefit from support with tuition fees and living allowances through this scholarship.

The DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme offers qualified refugee and returnee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree in their country of asylum or home country. Through the dedicated support of the governments of Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic, UNHCR and private donors, the programme has supported over 18,000 young refugees worldwide to undertake tertiary studies since 1992.

UNHCR also partners with the Literacy Movement Organization to enable access to literacy classes for over-aged and out-of-school refugee children and adults, with the aim that they can eventually rejoin the formal education system.