Launch of Refugee Teachers: The Heart of the Global Refugee Response

A GRF 2023 linked event hosted by NORRAG

In 2023, NORRAG brought together 48 authors who contributed 28 papers from 15 settings focused on the voices, work, well-being, and professional development of refugee teachers. Over 40 people attended the launch event in person and over 100 people joined online.

The event was opened by Martina Ramming, Sector Policy Advisor Education at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SADC). Addressing many of the publication’s key messages – especially that investments in refugee education without investments in teachers undermines quality and educational outcomes – Ramming confirmed that SADC will prioritise refugee teachers in its international cooperation strategy of 2025-2028. Online presentations were delivered by researchers, school leaders, and refugee teachers representing Colombia and Uganda, who echoed the relationship between inadequate compensation, a lack of professional development, and teachers’ wellbeing challenges.

Carlos Vargas Tamez, Director of UNESCO’s Task Force for Teachers 2030, then emphasised how this extends to high rates of teacher attrition and global teacher shortages, which have the worst effect on children in crisis- and displacement-affected contexts. Dr. Rebecca Telford, UNHCR’s Chief of Education, articulated how refugee inclusion in national education systems needs to include refugee teachers, who can address teacher shortages and contribute nuanced knowledge in support of refugee children. Education International’s Sonia Grigt complemented this point, highlighting the role of teacher unions in advocacy for refugee teachers.

The final presentation, by UNESCO IIEP’s Katja Hinz and Education Development Trust’s Helen West, showcased research from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda and centred refugee teachers’ voices in a case for their inclusion in national teacher professional development initiatives. The discussant was Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, who questioned whether refugees’ right to education is extended to refugee teachers and what policy commitments are in place to reflect this fact? In the closing, Judith Hebertson, Director of FCDO’s Girls Education Challenge, acknowledged that teachers are the bedrock of all education and that it is our shared commitment to ensure that refugee teacher policy reflects this.

Since the launch of the publication on December 12th, it has been viewed online or downloaded more than 1,900 times.