The Education Crisis Among Displaced Children

Globally over 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes worldwide, over 43 million of them are children. The flow-on effects of this can be devastating and complex, from difficulty accessing education to challenges surrounding physical and psychological wellbeing.

The number of displaced people is at an all-time high and likely to worsen further because of conflict, war, violence, disasters, and climate change.

The rate of displaced people is rising rapidly

The World Bank states that in 2022 the number of new internal displacements caused by conflict and violence was three times higher than the annual average over the past 10 years. 

Rodina with her grandchildren at the border. Photo: Philip Spalek/Caritas Germany.
Children's activities for displaced families in Ivano Frankivsk. Photo: Caritas Ukraine

Education for children is being affected

According to UNHCR, the number of refugee children enrolled in primary school in 2018 was only 63 per cent, compared with the global figure of 91 per cent enrolment.


Displaced and refugee children face a multitude of challenges:

Access to education

Schools may be far from refugee camps or settlements, making it challenging for children to reach them. When schools are accessible, they can have limited capacity, leading to overcrowded classrooms.

Many refugee children also lack proper identification or educational documentation due to the circumstances of their displacement, which can hinder their enrolment in schools.

Physical health

Displaced and refugee children have a wide variety of health needs that can be more specific to them due to the harsh living conditions.

Malnutrition, food insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, unclean water, and poor sanitation can all contribute to this, leading to illnesses and health conditions.

Psychological wellbeing

Often children are subjected to traumatic experiences which can affect their mental wellbeing. As a result, they can experience distress and feelings of anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, irritability, and more.

The lack of access to psychosocial support and trauma-informed care further exacerbates this. 

Why is education important for refugee and displaced children?

Education for children can enhance both their immediate well-being and long-term development.

  1. Reduced risk of exploitation: School attendance can protect children from child labour, child trafficking, child marriage, and other forms of exploitation. Education provides displaced and refugee children with awareness and knowledge about their rights, this empowerment can help them advocate for their own choices.

  2. Improved nutritional outcomes: Children who are refugees and displaced are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. Schools can incorporate nutrition education into the curriculum, teaching children about healthy eating habits, balanced diets, and the importance of essential nutrients. This knowledge can positively influence their food choices and overall nutrition. Education can also help with the opportunity for income and the ability to afford nutritious food.

What is Caritas Australia doing to help displaced and refugee children?

With your generosity and the work of Caritas Australia’s partners on the ground, we are working in a number of countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific, supporting displaced people and refugees to improve access to hygiene and sanitation, protection, food distribution and security, and water distribution.

Providing for these fundamental needs can provide support to children’s physical and psychological wellbeing as well as their ability to access education.

With your support, Caritas Australia and our partners are providing humanitarian relief in countries including:

  • Ukraine – Providing assistance to refugees in Moldova. Read more here.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – Providing emergency relief to the displaced population due to ongoing conflict. Read more here.
  • Bangladesh 
  • Somalia 
  • South Sudan 
  • Sudan 
  • Syria 
  • Türkiye 
  • Lebanon
  • Ethiopia

Read more about how your support is helping refugees and displaced people around the world here.

What educational programs for displaced children can my donations contribute to?

One of the programs that support displaced children and their access to education is the Sustaining Education for Burmese Refugees program. The ongoing conflict in Myanmar has forced many people from the country across the borders into neighbouring countries.

Caritas Australia partners with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Thailand, who work to provide consistent, quality and ongoing education, as well as community building and collaborative initiatives to refugees from Myanmar along the Thai-Myanmar border. 

Education provided includes:

  • social cohesion,
  • peace education, 
  • psychosocial support,
  • social and emotional learning.

The focus of this program is to have a holistic approach to education and wellbeing.

Along with your generous support and our partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), this program is also supported by the Australian Government, through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). 

What can I do to help?

Your generous donations are the backbone to supporting Caritas Australia and our partners on the ground. With your support we can continue the work being done to support displaced people around the globe.