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Planning for teachers in times of crisis and displacement


Helen West/Education Development Trust

Teachers are the key to success in any education system. This is also true during times of crisis. Teachers make learning possible, no matter the setting.

Teachers are more than just providers of essential services. They are themselves members of affected communities and potentially powerful agents of positive policy reform. Through this initiative, we aim to contribute to the burgeoning research that focuses on teachers in refugee contexts and to provide evidence-based policy solutions to support UNESCO Member States in responding to the call set out in the Incheon Declaration to: 'ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.'

However, little is known about teachers in refugee-hosting communities and how they are managed.

According to recent figures from UNHCR (2019), over 70 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced. This unprecedented number includes close to 26 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. This poses great challenges for affected education systems, including teachers.

Research has shown that – among those factors affecting student outcomes which are open to policy influence – the most important are the quality of teachers and teaching. This is especially the case in situations of protracted emergencies, where teachers are often the only resource available to students. Teachers can provide a source of continuity to disrupted lives. They play a key role in developing the social and emotional skills of students in exiled population and, in protecting and supporting their scholastic success.

However, a literature review conducted earlier this year by IIEP-UNESCO and Education Development Trust (EdDevTrust) found that relatively few data are available about teachers in refugee contexts, other than limited statistical data suggesting that qualified teachers are in short supply. The review also concluded that, with the exception of some research exploring certification and compensation in refugee contexts, there are few studies on teachers’ experiences and on their perspectives on key policy issues, including recruitment, deployment, professional development, and motivation.

To begin to address this evidence gap, IIEP has partnered with EdDevTrust to undertake a multi-country, multi-level research programme, involving teacher surveys, semi-structured interviews, school case studies, and focus group discussions with teachers, government officials, UN representatives, community members, and other key education stakeholders in each country.

This research programme aims to identify policies and implementation strategies currently being used to select, deploy and manage teachers in refugee contexts, as well as promising areas for further policy development and successful implementation. This work will thus contribute to raise awareness of decision-makers in ministries responsible for education and/or refugees, of good practices for teacher management in refugee communities and more generally to ensure quality education in refugee contexts.

This research, with the support of UNICEF, Open Society Foundations and other partners, covers six countries in East Africa and the Middle East: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

The research methodology includes policy analysis, collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from relevant stakeholders and existing data sets, school case studies, and a survey of teachers in refugee contexts.

Final deliverables will include regional and national reports, policy guidance, and a documentary film, all aiming to better inform policy development and implementation in the area of teacher management in refugee contexts.