Refugee Education: Integration Models and Practices in OECD Countries

The recent refugee crisis has put many OECD countries under considerable pressure to accommodate and integrate large numbers of refugees. Refugee students are a particularly vulnerable group due to their forced displacement, but their needs are not always met by education systems, which can hinder the integration potential of these students. This poses considerable challenges as the integration of refugee students in education systems is important for their academic outcomes as well as their social and emotional well-being. The success (or lack of) integration in schools can also affect the future labour market and social integration potential of these children and youth.

While there is a growing body of research on the integration of immigrants, policy-relevant research on refugee children and youth from an educational perspective is rather limited, fragmented and case specific. Detailed surveys and research projects focusing on the current wave of refugees that allow for cross-country comparisons are not yet available. Drawing on research from previous refugee waves, the paper examines key needs of refugee students and factors that promote their integration. It proposes a holistic model of integration in education that responds to the learning, social and emotional needs of refugee students. Furthermore, the paper examines what type of policies and practices are in place in OECD countries that support the integration of refugee students. Nonetheless, evaluations of practices and policies are often missing, which makes it difficult to assess whether they are successful. The paper finishes with some policy pointers on how to promote the integration of refugee students.

Resource Info


Published by

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Authored by

Lucie Cerna