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Refugee Education Statistics: Issues and Recommendations

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Executive Summary

Refugee education has been, until recently, a largely overlooked issue, and encompasses a vast array of data producers, fragmented tools and data sources, along with non-standardized ways of measuring and reporting education indicators for this particularly vulnerable population. This paper reviews the available data sources on refugee education that could contribute to SDG4 monitoring for refugees, covering access, learning, protection and safety. It examines a range of sources such as UN registration and monitoring data, household surveys, administrative surveys, Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), other school-based surveys, censuses, international learning assessments, national examinations, and operational data to understand where data lies across the data value chain.

This review highlights key challenges with regards to:

• Identification of refugees, especially using proxies such as nationality or native language.

• Absence of disaggregation by refugee status in existing data sources that may cover refugees, such as EMIS.

• Over-emphasis on data on access to education, especially enrolment and attendance, while excluding other measurement such as retention, dropout, learning and safety.

• Poor integration of refugee education data into national statistical frameworks.

In order to address these challenges and improve data on refugee education, this paper suggests that governments and organizations:

• Prioritize the safe identification of refugees in existing data collection tools, such as EMIS, using unique IDs or nationality as proxy where it is not feasible or politically sensitive to ask about refugee status.

• Disaggregate data on refugee education, not only by refugee status where protection risks are low, but also by age, gender, disability, education attainment, pre-displacement and socioeconomic status.

• Optimize the added value of enhanced identification and disaggregation to expand coverage on indicators beyond enrolment and attendance, to measuring dropout, retention, learning and safety measures. This may provide a more comprehensive assessment on refugee children’s learning and overall development, while better reflecting the education needs and informing education responses for displaced populations.

• Coordinate and set standards for refugee education data collection to avoid duplication, using models such as the UNHCR-UNICEF Blueprint for Joint Action and the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Data Reference Group for Education in Emergencies (EiE), as models for better data-sharing and coordination.