With forced displacement reaching historic levels, schools all over the world are welcoming increasing numbers of refugee children. Teachers are facing new challenges in making sense of forced displacement and its complexities. Refugees and migrants regularly make headlines and the internet is bustling with information on the topic. Explaining the situation of refugees and migrants to primary and secondary school children has become part of many educators’ daily work.

In addition, training and guidance for teachers with refugees in their classrooms is not always based on best practice, and is not always easily available. 

On this UNHCR Teaching About Refugees page you can find free-of-charge and adaptable UNHCR teaching materials on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness and a section dedicated to professional development and guidance for primary and secondary school teachers on including refugee children in their classes. Use and combine these materials as you see fit in your lessons about the topic.

  1. Words matter
  2. Teaching materials
  3. Including refugees in your classroom
  4. Other teaching resources

Words matter

Understanding the terms refugees, migration and asylum begins with understanding a few basics. The word refugee is often used as a blanket term for people displaced by war, violence or persecution. But there are different categories of displaced people, each with specific needs. Knowing what these categories mean exactly is important and will contribute to better understanding of this complex topic.

Watch these explainer animations yourself as a preparation for your lesson or training. Choose which sections you need, and use them in your own lesson plans as well. The animations are suitable for use as teaching material for pupils age 12 and over.

Refugees

Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution.

Migrants

Migrants are people moving to another country for other reasons beyond conflict and persecution.

Internally displaced people

Internally displaced people are seeking safety in other parts of their country.

Asylum-seekers

Asylum-seekers are people seeking international protection from conflict and persecution.

Returnees

Returnees are people who have returned home after being displaced.

Stateless people

Stateless people do not have the nationality of any country.

Where do refugees come from?

Refugees come from countries all over the world. More than half come from Syria and Afghanistan and Somalia.

Where do refugees go?

Most refugees are in developing countries. They tend to stay in neighbouring countries.

Refugee rights

Refugees cannot be sent back to their country if this puts them in danger.

Who helps refugees?

UNHCR, governments and many other organizations help refugees. You can help too.


Teaching materials

Here you can find teaching materials about refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness for all age groups in primary and secondary education.

Click on the age category and find lesson plans, activity guides, videos and other materials to use in your class.


Including refugees in your classroom

With forced displacement at a record high since World War II, many teachers now have refugees or asylum-seekers in their classroom. Teaching newcomers often comes with specific needs relating to language acquisition and adaptation to a new culture and environment. Some refugee children may suffer from stress or trauma preventing them from participating fully in school activities, and requiring specific support.

Below you will find some professional guidance to support you

Effects of stress and trauma on children

Executive function is often compromised when children experience stress and trauma. This video by Harvard University 's Center on the Developing Child explains some challenges that children suffering from stress and trauma may experience.

Successfully including children experiencing stress and trauma in your classroom

This guide provides guidance on including these children in your class and school.

Understanding language acquisition

Guidance on how to optimise language learning environments for non-native speaking children.


Other teaching resources

Many organisations have created excellent teaching resources on refugees, asylum, migration and statelessness.

On this page you’ll find a curated selection of teaching materials from NGOs, governments and other organizations, which you can search by language and age group.