Mapping of Education Facilities and Refugee Enrolment in Main Refugee Hosting Areas and Refugee Villages in Pakistan

  1. Introduction: Global Context

There are an estimated 21.3 million refugees around the world (UNHCR, 2017), and many find themselves in an indeterminate state for years, unable to exercise the full range of rights they need to become self-sufficient and restart their lives. Refugees need practical and quick pathways to protection and solutions. This begins with quality education. Education is not only a fundamental right; it is one of the most valuable assets a refugee can have. Refugee children and adolescents who are able to access national school systems build lasting friendships with local children, learn languages, and develop vital skills they need to sustain themselves and their families. For refugee children, school can be a safe place where they can learn and play—basic necessities for any child growing up, but especially important for those that have been torn from their homes and seen the horrors of war.

However, despite the crucial role that education plays for refugee communities, it is often not given the same level of attention as it deserves by the donors and governments. Only 2% of funding in emergencies is dedicated to education globally. As a result, there are approximately 3.7 million refugee children out of school around the world (UNHCR, 2017). The impact of this is devastating, with children easily falling victim to exploitation or forced to work to earn money for their families.

Compounding the challenge of addressing these vast needs are the diverse contexts in which they arise, from emergency to protracted situations, such as the Afghan refugee situation in Pakistan. Refugees often live in regions where governments are already struggling to educate their own children. Those governments face the additional task of finding enough space in already overcrowded schools, providing trained teachers and learning materials for hundreds of thousands of newcomers, who often do not speak the language of instruction and have missed out on an average of three to four years of schooling.

Making sure that refugees have access to education is at the heart of UNHCR’s mandate to protect the world’s rapidly increasing refugee population, and central to its mission of finding long-term solutions to refugee crises. However, as the number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and violence rises, demand for education naturally grows and the resources in the countries that shelter them are stretched ever thinner.