Barriers to Refugee Adolescents’ Educational Access during COVID-19: Exploring the Roles of Gender, Displacement, and Social Inequalities
As of 2021, more than 80 million people worldwide have been displaced by war, violence, and poverty. An estimated 30 million to 34 million of these are under age 18, and many are at risk of interrupting their education permanently—a situation aggravated in recent years by the global COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we adopt an intersectional conceptual framework to explore the roles gender and other social inequalities have played in shaping adolescents’ access to education during the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine two refugee populations: the Rohingya, who have been excluded from formal education opportunities in Bangladesh, and Syrian refugees in Jordan, who have access to formal education in their host country. We provide novel empirical data, as well as insights into the adolescent refugee experience and the short-term consequences for education resulting from the pandemic. In the article, we draw from quantitative survey data on 3,030 adolescents, and from in-depth qualitative interviews we conducted in the spring of 2020 with a subset of 91 adolescents who are part of an ongoing longitudinal study. We also conducted 40 key informant interviews with community leaders and service providers.