As highlighted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugee education is today in crisis. With millions of people who are currently refugees mainly hosted in low- and middle income countries as well as in least developed countries, the challenges are important. In view of Education 2030 – Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the recent massive influx of refugees UNESCO seeks to draw attention to the fact that, in order to guarantee the right to education for all, it is critical that all those in a refugee-like situation enjoy equal access to an education of good quality.
This Working Paper aims to provide an overview of the international legal framework protecting the right to education of refugees worldwide, including the obligations of States, as well as the main current issues. It also shows that, despite the existence of a strong applicable framework to guarantee the right to education of refugees worldwide, the challenges and obstacles encountered in this context may dramatically prevent its enjoyment. The paper also emphasizes that, even though ensuring the right to education is fundamental in all phases of the situation, there is a particular need to draw attention to the stabilisation phase. This phase relates to a structural context involving host states’ educational policies and legal frameworks as well as matters related to the adaptation and integration. With a view to effectively protecting the right to education for refugees and seeking sustainable policy solutions, the main features of the right to education – availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability – may offer a relevant framework for States to adopt and implement solid legal and policy national frameworks prohibiting discrimination or exclusion based on any ground and protecting fundamental rights. Therefore, sustainable policy responses based on effective implementation of States’ legal obligations will ensure the fulfilment of refugees’ right to education, responding to the ambition of an inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030.