Recognition of refugees’ prior learning – the case of Lebanon

The main purpose of this research is to examine refugees’ access to basic and higher education in Lebanon through the recognition of their prior learning attainments. This case study aims to add value to existing knowledge on refugee education and to provide a better understanding of developments in recognition of refugees’ prior learning. It is based on a literature review and semi-structured interviews conducted between April and May 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon. Interviewees represented organisations working for refugee education such as the Government of Lebanon (GoL), UN agencies, international and national NGOs as well as Lebanese academics. The research is structured according to a framework developed by Talbot in Kirk (ed.) (2009), which divides challenges to recognition of prior learning of refugees into two categories - technical and political. The findings of this study indicate that recognition of refugees’ prior learning is not perceived as a major barrier to basic education in Lebanon despite remaining cases where documentation has proven to still be an obstacle to access. In higher education, obstacles to recognition of learning are clearly linked to the absence of a clear and yet flexible procedure for granting refugees equivalency of their academic credentials and to the legal requirements imposed on refugees in the country. Overall, the findings show that technical challenges for recognition of learning are similar at different levels although some are more pronounced in basic and some in higher education. Political challenges are clearly a manifestation of Lebanon’s complex historical and political landscape which has also given international donors a leverage over the setting of priorities for refugee education. The study further concludes that political challenges are a major contributor to technical challenges for refugee education. Based on these conclusions, this study argues that only by adapting flexible, context-sensitive solutions to recognition of refugees’ prior learning and by reframing the discourse surrounding displacement from burden to potential, can remaining barriers to education access in Lebanon be addressed. Key words: refugee education, recognition, Lebanon

Resource Info


Published by

University College London Institute of Education

Authored by

Barbara Trzmiel