International Cooperation in Refugee Education: Towards Matching Needs and Services

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The complex problem of education in refugee camps has become a topic of debate in
recent years, particularly as the number of refugees has increased dramatically and
their characteristics have changed significantly. The international community
(represented by both governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs))
plays an important role today in delivering refugee education. Addressing the issues
that are involved in the delivery of this service is critical in shaping future
recommendations for educational aid, and assessing the relevancy of the current
educational programs in refugee camps is also necessary in order to meet the wide
range of refugees’ needs. This study examines whether the real educational needs and
expectations of refugees are met by the services provided by the “donors” which
include the United Nations agencies and local and international NGOs. The study
seeks to illuminate a state of disconnect between services delivered by the donors and
what are perceived by the refugees as their needs. To understand the services
delivered by the donors, this study reviews documents published by different
organizations and analyzes interviews conducted with staff members who work or
have worked for such organizations. In order to capture the range of refugees’
perception of their educational needs and expectations, the study synthesizes and
analyzes data collected from surveys and interviews with refugees who arrived in the
San Francisco Bay Area after having spent from six months to seven years in refugee
camps in ten different countries. While the findings do not prove the obvious
disjunction between the needs and services, they indicate the institutional characters
influencing the operation of refugee education on the “donor” side of the equation.
Acknowledging the institutional environments which encompass the operation of
refugee education, the study explicates the complexities associated with refugee
education and the unfeasibility of technical-functional solutions to fill the
needs-services disjunction. The study ends with the suggestion that there needs to be
close ties between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and local
NGOs, the latter found to be in a better position to measure the diverse needs of


Type of resource text
Date created November 2000


Author Shimizu, Ikuko


Subject Refugee education
Subject United Nations
Subject Non-governmental organizations
Subject Stanford Graduate School of Education International Educational Administration and Policy Analysis
Genre Thesis

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).


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