Commemorating World Refugee Day: Supporting Refugees Through Education

Children in a refugee camp who are playing a game where they walk in a circle, holding hands. In the background are rows of temporary housing tents.

Each year, we come together in the weeks around June 20 to commemorate World Refugee Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate the strength and courage of refugees and other forcibly displaced people.

At Childhood Education International, we are committed to making a difference in the lives of refugees through our focus on early childhood care and education. We believe that access to quality education and care are critically important for all refugee children.

Crisis of Displacement

The global crisis of displacement is at an all-time high.

The UNHCR estimates that there are 108.4 million forcibly displaced people who have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution, or to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. This includes 62.5 million internally displaced people, 35.3 million refugees, 5.4 million asylum-seekers, and 5.2 million other people in need of international protection.

More than 40% of all forcibly displaced people are children under the age of 18.

The Rights of Refugees

This crisis highlights the urgent need for organizations and communities to create opportunities and nurturing environments for those displaced.

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol help protect refugees and outline their rights, including the right to work, the right to education, the right to housing, and other rights.

However, refugees often face danger, and people who have been displaced frequently find themselves in unfamiliar and challenging circumstances, where access to basic needs – including quality education and early childhood care – can be difficult or nonexistent.

Children are particularly vulnerable. They may lose loved ones or be separated from family, and many spend their childhoods away from home. They may also experience violence and are at risk of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Education & Early Childhood Care

Everyone has a right to education. However, nearly half of all school-age refugee children are not in school, and most young children lack access to early childhood care and education.

Some of the barriers to quality education include a lack of school buildings, qualified teachers, and learning materials. In addition, refugee children and youth face additional challenges, such as language barriers, separation from family support systems, gaps in education, and discrimination.

Education can equip refugees with vital skills and knowledge, as well as provide the routine, continuity, and care particularly needed by those who have experienced trauma and displacement. This fundamental right is crucial for refugees, as education can offer a lifeline of hope and a pathway toward opportunities.

Our Work

At Childhood Education International, we believe that children and youth need educational opportunities to not only grow their intellectual and academic abilities but also support their well-being and social-emotional needs.

Through our programs and initiatives, we strive to foster educational opportunities that support refugee students wherever they may be in their refugee journey. Our current programs focus on materials and communities of practice for refugee educators because we believe that qualified, well-resourced educators can make a big difference in children’s lives.

Open Educational Resource Library

Our Open Educational Resource (OER) Library offers free professional development materials for educators in English, French, and Arabic.

The materials were co-created with educators working in displacement contexts in Kenya, Lebanon, and Niger. They focus on holistic learning, asset-based pedagogies, social-emotional learning, and psychosocial support.

Visit the OER Library

Refugee Educator Academy

The Center for Professional Learning’s Refugee Educator Academy is a global community of practice designed to support educators and to offer sustainable, holistic learning opportunities for teachers who work in refugee displacement, crisis, migration, and resettlement contexts.

The Refugee Educator Foundations of Practice (REFP) courses are facilitated, cohort-based online courses designed by and for educators and other education leaders using an asset-based orientation to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students of refugee backgrounds living in the U.S.

Learn about Summer REFP Courses


We offer micro-credentials – competency-based assessments of an educator’s areas of expertise – specific to refugee educators.

Our micro-credentials focus on asset-based pedagogies, social-emotional learning, psychosocial support, differentiated instruction to support refugee students, and more.

Learn About Our Micro-credentials

Technical Compendium for Practitioners in Early Childhood

We are working on a project with the Play to Learn Consortium to create a technical compendium of resources for practitioners working in early childhood development in emergencies.

There is a demonstrated gap in available tools and resources related to early childhood development in conflict and crisis. The technical compendium will seek to fill this gap by providing accessible, high-quality tools and resources.

Read More About This Project

Read Perspectives from Our Senior Fellows Working in Emergency Contexts

Learn more about World Refugee Day and what you can do to support refugees from the United Nations and UNHCR.