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15 Jun 2023

Call for Contributions! NORRAG Policy Insights: Refugee Teachers - The Heart of the Global Refugee Response

NORRAG invites contributions to the forthcoming NORRAG Policy Insights on Refugee Teachers, which will coincide with the Global Refugee Forum, December 13-15, 2023, in Geneva.

The contributions are expected to be short country policy case studies or global thematic spotlights of no more than 700 words that speak to a wider audience of policymakers, academics, researchers, civil society organizations, and other actors working in refugee education. We will publish approximately 25 case studies and thematic spotlights, depending on the quality and diversity of submissions. Contributions should be submitted in English or French, but if you wish to submit in any of the other UN languages please let us know.

The end product will be a 25 page publication authored by academics, practitioners, school leaders and teachers working in or with refugee-hosting contexts on every continent. Each thematic spotlight and policy case study will be accessible, providing a one-stop source of high-level information and policy analysis on refugee teachers’ work conditions and wellbeing. This will be a first-of-its kind resource that contributes towards a common policy language and aspirations for refugee teachers worldwide.

As a first step, please indicate your interest by sending us a short abstract of 250 words by Friday July 7th. This will help us ensure a good balance of case studies and thematic spotlights from diverse contributors and contexts. In line with NORRAG’s #TheSouthAlsoKnows campaign, we encourage policy case study contributions by or in partnership with researchers, policy makers, practitioners, school leaders and teachers from and working in Global South contexts. 

We will advise successful contributors by July 21st and expect to receive the first draft of the selected articles themselves by August 18th. Contributions will be reviewed and returned with feedback by September 11th. Authors will then revise and resubmit their articles by October 9th, with a view to publishing and launching NORRAG Policy Insights: Refugee Teachers – The Heart of the Global Refugee Response at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on December 13th, 2023.

Please see NORRAG Policy Insights: The Digitalization of Education as a reference for the formatting of the publication and the expected style of contributions.



Refugee teachers play a vital role in providing education to refugee children and youth and contribute in myriad ways to their host communities (Mendenhall et al. 2019). In many contexts, refugee teachers are at the heart of humanitarian response efforts. However, they also face significant challenges in terms of recruitment, recognition, compensation, and professional development, which in turn lowers their motivation to teach and contributes to high rates of attrition within the workforce (Falk et al., 2019). 

Despite their recognized value and the almost intractable challenges they face, refugee teachers are all but invisible in global refugee and education policies, strategies, and frameworks. For example, the second edition of the Global Compact for Refugees Indicator Framework recognizes education as a crucial element of durable solutions for refugees and calls for greater investments in the sector, yet makes no mention of refugee teachers. The more focused UNHCR Global Framework for Refugee Education calls for increased attention to and support for refugee teachers, yet teachers are instrumentalized as inputs for improved educational outcomes, rather than as refugees and rights bearers themselves. Similarly, the UNHCR Education Strategy 2030 promotes harmonized approaches to engaging qualified refugee teachers in national system schools, but again the focus is on better outcomes for refugee children and adolescents. 

A promising shift in tone and focus is seen in the UNHCR High-Level Officials Meeting recommendation 14, which calls for improved participation and inclusion of refugee teachers in the design, implementation, and review of education interventions. This is also in line with the Transforming Education Summit’s Action Track 3 Strategy 8, which specifically calls for the inclusion of refugee teachers in national teacher management and development systems.

Noting the minimal attention given to refugee teachers’ work and wellbeing in global policy documents and frameworks, coinciding with the Global Refugee Forum this timely NORRAG Policy Insights publication will provide a collection of critical policy case studies and thematic spotlights on refugee teachers’ work and wellbeing. Together, these studies will demonstrate the need to prioritize refugee teachers within global refugee policy and financing and promote ways to improve refugee teachers’ inclusion, status, and compensation.


Four themes


Theme 1: The inclusion of refugee teacher voices in policy making and practice

Framing questions: Why do refugee teachers’ voices matter? How can governments, donors, and practitioners better include and act on teachers’ voices?


Theme 2: Policies that address the challenges of teachers’ work and wellbeing

Framing questions: Who are teachers in refugee-hosting settings? Why does teachers’ work matter? How is teacher wellbeing defined and why is it an area of focus? What are current barriers to better policy and practice?


Theme 3: Opportunities to improve refugee teacher professional development

Framing questions: What works in refugee teacher professional development? Examples of promising practice? Current barriers to better policy and practice?  


Theme 4: Teacher recruitment, certification, compensation, and retention

Framing questions: What are the incentives / disincentives for national system inclusion? What tensions exist in refugee teacher recruitment and retention? What role do compensation and other benefits play in teacher motivation and persistence?


Editor: Chris Henderson, The Geneva Graduate Institute / NORRAG and Teachers College, Columbia University.

Abstracts due: 250 words by Friday July 7th, 5pm CET. 

Notification of acceptance provided by: Friday July 21st, 5pm CET.

First draft submitted by: Friday August 18th, 5pm CET.

Feedback provided by: Monday September 11th, 5pm CET.

Final submissions due: Monday October 9th, 5pm CET.

Submission of abstracts, case studies, and thematic spotlights: Chris Henderson 

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