Forced Displacement and Education Study

Student in hijab at school desk

Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) face major barriers accessing education, and the countries hosting them—predominantly low-income countries—are often already struggling to meet the educational demands of their citizens.

The World Bank, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office designed a research program addressing how to improve education and learning outcomes for forcibly displaced populations and host communities facing poverty and other hardships.

The World Bank contracted AIR to carry out the Forced Displacement and Education Study, which consisted of two phases. In Phase I, AIR, in collaboration with New York University, systematically gathered, collated, and synthesized evidence on education for forcibly displaced people including refugees and IDPs, and how to include them in national education systems. In Phase II, AIR conducted in-depth comparative case studies to examine the inclusion of displaced populations in national education systems and the costs associated with inclusion.

Phase I: Evidence Synthesis and Intervention Mapping

The first phase consisted of a rigorous evidence synthesis and intervention mapping to systematically examine available evidence and current programs in forced displacement contexts. During the evidence synthesis, AIR examined the effectiveness of education interventions for displaced populations, the extent to which the interventions facilitated access to schools and school retention of displaced students and out-of-school youth, and the available information on cost, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and replicability of education programs for displaced people. The research team identified education interventions implemented by governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations in 22 countries.

Phase II: Qualitative Case Studies

In response to these evidence gaps, we conducted four primarily qualitative country-level case studies to examine the inclusion of displaced populations in national education systems in Chad, Colombia, Pakistan, and Sudan. We also conducted a fifth case study, slightly different in nature, that examined education expenditures in Jordan to approximate the cost of inclusive education for refugees. The case studies focused on displaced populations’ experiences of inclusion in national systems but did not aim to examine how different approaches to inclusion may affect learning outcomes. We also drew comparisons across the five studies and identified common themes around the inclusion of refugees in national education systems.