Restructuring Education for Refugees in a Post-Pandemic World


There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a disconnect between students and their education. With global closures of schools, universities, and related institutions, students around the world are experiencing knowledge gaps to various degrees. Although classes have resumed in many countries, education has been largely inaccessible for a particular group- even before the pandemic.

Threatened Progress

Children in every country have struggled with the effects of the pandemic on their education, but refugee children are particularly disadvantaged. Refugees had limited access to higher education opportunities at a mere 3% compared to the global rate of 37%. There are a variety of factors that have resulted in such a large void, such as the high cost of education and regulatory environments that hinder enrolment. In 2019, there was an average enrolment of 77% in primary school, 31% in secondary, and only 3% in higher education. Despite being far behind global averages, these numbers represent progress. This was a 2% increase in 2019 when tens of thousands of refugee children were enrolled in secondary education. But due to the pandemic, any progress that had been made will be undone. For nearly 85% of the world’s refugees living in developing or least developed countries, overcoming additional barriers imposed by the pandemic will be especially difficult. These communities have difficulty accessing technology for connected learning, such as mobile phones and tablets which are not readily available.

With increased uncertainties because of the pandemic, it is essential to reduce this growing gap before it potentially sinks to a historic low. It is a priority to reduce the gap of accessing higher education opportunities. This includes advocating for the inclusion of refugees in national education systems and to promote systemic planning during crises and protracted displacements.

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December, 2021

Karen Kan

Univeristy of Toronto Policython