Effective Teacher Management Approaches in Refugee Contexts

Growing evidence continues to emphasize the impact of teachers for students in refugee contexts, according to the most recent report collaboratively published by UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning and Education Development Trust. This second of four country reports on teacher management in settings with high refugee populations revealed that teachers are often the only resource available to children who are refugees.

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The primary purpose of the country reports is to provide policy guidance to ministries of education regarding best practices for supporting refugee educators. With only 24% of refugee students having access to secondary schooling[1], an urgent need exists to provide equitable learning opportunities for such learners. Effective teacher management policies, including reinforcing a qualified workforce, is often regarded as a key factor in improving options for refugee learners.

“Effective teacher management is a key policy lever to ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education systems.”

The evidence accumulated in the research demonstrated that teachers are “key to successful inclusion” in refugee contexts and a “source of continuity” in students’ disrupted lives. The report also reinforced the belief that teachers who are themselves from the refugee community are best equipped to teach refugee learners. While many host countries leverage this knowledge by placing such educators in learning settings, lack of sufficient support and preparation often prevents educators from being able to effectively teach the target population.

The latest report focuses on Jordan, home to over 200,000 Syrian refugee children who are eligible to enroll in formal schooling. In this context, most teachers are Jordanian citizens who are “daily paid,” meaning they lack a contract with a defined timeframe. When asked to what extent a “low salary” challenged a teacher’s ability to work, nearly 70% of respondents in schools that dedicate a second shift to Syrian refugee learners said, “A lot.”

Such evidence is critical in addressing the major challenges in teacher management, which is defined as the “process which encompasses the personnel functions relating to the appointment of teachers, their deployment, confirmation, appraisal and professional development, promotion, discipline and all other matters affecting their teaching service.[2]”

The Jordan country report follows the initial report on Ethiopia and precedes pending reports being conducted in Kenya and Uganda. IIEP-UNESCO and the Education Development Trust began the country reports after an initial joint review of literature on teacher management in country contexts, with evidence suggesting that supporting teachers as a cross-cutting strategy to accomplish various targets under Sustainable Development Goal 4, which focuses on education.

[1] UNHCR. (2019b). Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis. UNHCR
[2] Halliday, I. (1995). Turning the Tables on Teacher Management. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.