A recent meeting of an international group of education donors, hosted by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, confirmed that refugee education is top of mind for international aid agencies and foundations alike. This is perhaps not surprising given how the war on Ukraine has gripped the West’s attention and generated very generous support in the form of government aid packages, welcoming policies by nearby countries, and an unprecedented $1.4 billion in donations from the private sector as of early June, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. But as organizations serving refugees know all too well, surges in financial support have a history of being short-lived and—even worse—amassing insufficient support.

The refugee education crisis, however, has reached a new urgent stage that warrants consistent attention and more innovative and durable solutions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees , the number of forcibly displaced people has reached 100 million for the first time, up from 90 million at the end of last year. Ukrainian refugees are part of these statistics, but so too are the millions from other parts of the world, with the highest numbers of refugees originating from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. The sharp increase is dwarfed by estimates projecting the number of displaced people to potentially increase to 1 billion by 2050. This increase in refugees could lead to the international community having to provide support to hundreds of millions of out-of-school children, which would be upwards of three to four times the current amount.

It is against this stark background that donors must rethink their support to refugee education. In our discussion, meeting participants underscored five immediate priorities for donors:

  1. Center refugee voices in designing policy and programming.
  2. Seize current momentum for refugee education to advance policy.
  3. Funding needs to be more efficient and innovative.
  4. Expand access to refugee education at all levels.
  5. Invest in the resilience of education systems.

Read the full article about priorities for funders to support refugee education by Maysa Jalbout and Katy Bullard at Brookings.