Quality Holistic Learning Project

The Quality Holistic Learning (QHL) Project aims to contribute to efforts to transform education in response to recent global events and shared crises by addressing concerns around quality, equity, and inclusion through holistic learning in education in displacement contexts.

The QHL project is situated within our Refugee Educator Academy, building on existing knowledge and resources in crisis, emergency, displacement, and refugee contexts. This project is focused on bolstering national education systems to support inclusion, equity, and holistic learning for every child, including displaced, refugee, marginalized, and vulnerable learners. Specifically, QHL Project Fellows and partners are working to co-create competency-based professional learning open educational resources (OERs) focused on social and emotional learning, psychosocial support and wellbeing, asset based pedagogies, and differentiated instruction to support holistic learning.

QHL is an example of how the Center for Professional Learning works with a diverse stakeholder group to develop professional learning resources and opportunities for teachers working in displacement contexts within larger national education systems. Teachers, themselves, need holistic learning opportunities; thus, our project centers teachers as self-directed learners and as leaders within their local, national, and regional contexts.

young adult in libraryDuring the spring of 2021 and the spring of 2022, teachers and other key education stakeholders in four target countries—Chad, Kenya, Lebanon, and Niger—created, tested, evaluated, and revised OERs in Arabic, English, and French that include professional development online courses and offline trainings, handbooks, communities of practice, micro-credentials, and learning analytics tools. Read the external evaluation report here and access the OERs created during this phase of the project here. In 2022-2023 academic year, the QHL Project community is continuing to develop professional learning materials with a deeper dive into asset based pedagogies for education in displacement and differentiated instruction. These resources will be added to our OER Library in the summer of 2023.

We invite interested educators, education leaders, INGO staff and others to make use of the QHL professional development resources by taking courses, leading workshops, and/or earning micro-credentials. Find all resources here in our OER Library and in our micro-credential stacks.

Holistic teaching and learning is not just a function of what is taught but how material is taught.

Project Overview

Since spring 2021, the Center for Professional Learning has been working with teams of teachers in Lebanon, Kenya, and Niger to develop quality holistic learning resources for teacher professional development (PD) in refugee/displacement contexts. These PD resources support growth in online teaching/learning, social and emotional learning (SEL) and psychosocial support (PSS), asset-based pedagogies, and other key proficiencies critical to holistic learning and responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic (and other crises).

An introductory course on asset-based pedagogies and a suite of SEL/PSS professional learning resources — including two online courses, a handbook, and a set of face-to-face workshops — were created, tested, evaluated, and published by QHL Project Fellows in Lebanon, Kenya, and Niger (and colleagues in Chad) in 2022. These are contextually specific, open education resources available for use by school and ministry leaders, INGOs, and local NGOs and CBOs.

Additional quality holistic learning professional development resources are in development and will be released in summer 2023. Join our mailing list to receive updates.

Project Rationale

In 2016, UNESCO estimated a shortage of 69 million teachers needed to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030 in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4.1. While some countries have made progress in building their teacher workforce in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dampening effect, at best, and a truly devastating impact in some nations.

Recruiting, preparing, sustaining, and, thus, retaining quality teachers necessitates continuous investment over the full lifespan of a teaching career. This must be conducted through meaningful, connected, sustained, and responsive professional learning and leadership opportunities.

Prior to COVID-19, “skilling up” educators in displacement, emergency, and refugee contexts was already challenging. Now these educators, whether novice or master teachers, must be adept at teaching via online and remote methods. They also must be prepared to differentiate instruction and support the learning of students with significant breaks in learning due to conflict, migration, and the closure of schools during the pandemic.

The pandemic exacerbated disparities in access to quality teacher professional development at a time when educators in displacement contexts needed that support more than ever. It also awakened many people to the untapped talent and potential of teachers to transform schools into more equitable, inclusive, and holistic learning communities. This project starts with that potential and promise.


The overarching goal for this initiative is to increase quality holistic learning outcomes, encompassing both academic and social and emotional learning (SEL), for children in displacement contexts.

Specific project objectives include:

  • Increased teacher competency, including knowledge and skills necessary to promote quality holistic learning with students in displacement contexts and ability to demonstrate these competencies
  • Increased knowledge exchange around SEL and holistic teaching and learning among teachers and other education stakeholders, including INGOs, NGOs, ministries of education, etc., in displacement contexts
  • Improved data-informed teaching, including through the use of assessment, learning analytics, and reporting tools that help make teaching and learning visible to inform practice and guide continuous professional learning
  • Target Countries & Regional Hubs

    We are working within three regional hubs and with four target countries. The regional hubs include the Middle East, East Africa, and Central and West Africa. Target countries are Lebanon, Kenya, Chad, and Niger.

    These focal points were identified through existing partnerships, interest from new and potential partners, analysis of gaps and assets in various regions, and identification of essential capacity to execute on the project overall. They are subject to change given shifts in context, interest, or capacity.

    One aim of this project is that the professional learning materials created through this initiative will be both locally contextualized and applicable across global displacement and crisis contexts. We believe that building from the grassroots in a few specific locations will help to achieve this goal while modeling processes of empowerment and professional engagement for educators, through iterative design, dialog, and reflection within communities of practice.

    Participants’ Reflections

    “Le projet AHQ m’a permis d’apprendre beaucoup de choses mais ce que je considère comme la chose la plus importante que j’ai apprise est la relation entre les émotions et la capacité à apprendre.”

    [“The QHL project allowed me to learn a lot of things but what I consider to be the most important thing I learned was the relationship between emotions and the ability to learn.”]

    – Educator in Niger & QHL Project Fellow

    “[We] are involved in decisions that are to take place. We are consulted and decide when and how our activities can be beneficial to all of us by giving some flexibility and accommodation of others’ challenges to support one another with empathy. Strategies are put in place to treat every teacher with the esteem he/she deserves to feel a boost. We learn alone or in groups and work at our own pace to achieve our autonomy. We acquire many learning/teaching techniques with our learners, colleagues and fellows from daily routines, forums, weekly Zoom/class meetings, journalling, content sharing through teaching, games, Google applications, continuous communication by phone, WhatsApp, email and others. All these facilities help us become a friendly village of educators across the world.”

    – Educator in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya & QHL Project Fellow

    “I feel that I was lucky to find the time, energy, and motivation to keep moving forward. However, I know that others are not as lucky. So, it is our job, fellows and leaders, to empower teachers and equip them with the needed skills. This is the aim behind developing tools and online courses. These have been developed by us, the teachers, for the teachers. Teachers who live in the same context of struggle as other teachers. The tools aim to fill in the gaps that we teachers see in our communities, classrooms, and ourselves. These gaps include knowledge in SEL and its importance for our students and self-care for teachers that we are not aware of. These are addressed by the tools as they provide experiences and examples from our classrooms, written using our words and catering to our needs as teachers and students.”

    – Educator in Beirut, Lebanon & QHL Project Fellow/Consultant

    Ongoing Discussions

    Quality Holistic Learning Project Sharing Event: New Professional Development OERs and Experiences with Their Implementation

    In June 2023, the QHL Project team working with CE International’s Center for Professional Development published 27 new open education resources in support of quality holistic learning in education in displacement settings. A sharing event, held on July 10, introduced the new resources and shared stories from teachers (serving as QHL Project Fellows) who have used the materials. Access the QHL OERs here.

    Accédez à l’événement en français ici.

    يمكنك الوصول إلى فعالية اللغة العربية هنا. 

    Stories from Educators in Displacement: From the Quality Holistic Learning Project

    In April 2023, Quality Holistic Learning Project Teacher Fellows presented a panel discussion as part of the Migration Summit. They shared experiences working as educators in displacement contexts and lessons learned regarding holistic learning practices. Watch recordings of Migration Summit events here. Read the Migration Summit 2023 Report.

    Digital Teacher Professional Development in Education in Displacement (EiD) Settings: Access, Equity, and Quality

    In January 2023, the Center for Professional Learning launched a new report examining challenges and opportunities in digital teacher professional development in displacement settings. Read the report here. View slides from the webinar here.

    World Teachers’ Day 2022 – The transformation of teacher education in the digital turn

    This webinar addressed the challenges and opportunities of the digital turn for teachers and showcased the Global Teacher Campus (GTC) programmes, developed under the Global Education Coalition. Julie Kasper, Director of Teacher Learning and Leadership at the Center for Professional Learning, Childhood Education International, shared the QHL Project OER Library and the experiences of Project Fellows in this discussion.

    All Eyes On Learning Convening with the Porticus Foundation in NYC, Fall 2022

    Four QHL Project Teacher Fellows joined this global convening via video to share their experiences with professional learning and their thoughts on change in the classroom and the larger education ecosystem. Learn more about teaching, learning, and leading in Lebanon, Kenya, and Niger from these teacher leaders.

    Holistic Support: Seeing and Supporting the Whole Human

    During the April 2022 Migration Summit, Former CPL Director Diana Woolis joined the Summit team for a discussion on holistic support in learning and how everyone has a right not only to learn, but to learn holistically.

    Giving Educators of Displaced Students The Place They Deserve

    During the April 2022 Migration Summit, QHL Project teacher Fellows shared the daily challenges they face and how their participation in the QHL project allowed them to take a leading role in their schools and a holistic approach with their students.

    Quality Holistic Learning App

    A prototype app was created during the first phase of the QHL Project. It assists teachers in their use of effective teaching methods and measurement of holistic learning outcomes. Our goal is to make the impact of teaching more visible to teachers while also attending to teacher learning and wellbeing. The app guides teachers (both formally and non-formally trained) in displacement contexts in the assessment of, reflection on, and intervention in holistic learning, defined as both students’ academic achievement and their social and emotional learning (SEL) and psychosocial wellbeing. Plans are currently underway to identify best development strategies for this app and to secure funding.

    If you would like more information on how to be part of a development and/or financing partnership for this app, please contact Julie Kasper at jkasper@ceinternational1892.org.

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