Education: the cornerstone of child protection

  • When children are uprooted from their homes and communities, formal learning is disrupted along with the protective social structures that contribute to informal learning.
  • Schools provide spaces where children can overcome stress and fear, and feel protected. Getting refugee children and adolescents quickly back into learning offers them purpose, routine, a sense of safety and a better future.

The Uganda Model

  • In Uganda, refugee children have access to free primary education, as well as the right to pre-primary education, primary education, secondary education, vocational skills training and tertiary learning.
  • The Ministry of Education and Sports works with United Nations partners and national and international education stakeholders. Partnership and collaboration are vital to ensure that all refugee children attain their basic human right of access to education.
  • Refugee children are fully integrated into the Ugandan national curriculum. They children are able to attend schools outside of the refugee settlements, and Ugandan children are equally able to attend schools within refugee settlements.
  • Many refugees who were educated in Uganda have gone on to become leaders in business, politics and professionals of every description in their home countries and around the world.

The current situation

  • Schools within refugee settlements face the same challenges as Government-supported district schools: high pupil-teacher ratios, lack of teaching and learning resources, the challenge of keeping girls in school.
  • Of 455,812 school going children, 222,617 refugee children are enrolled in schools across the settlements in South West, Mid-West and West Nile Regions and urban Kampala
  • Almost the 50% of refugee children are out of school.
  • The enrolment rate is particularly low in secondary education. Out of 110,826 children, only 11,886 (11%) are enrolled.
  • At pre-primary level only 39% of children (3-5 yrs) are enrolled.


  • As a result of the surge in refugee numbers, all areas of education in the West Nile region are under-resourced, with infrastructure, learning materials, teachers and teacher accommodation being ongoing needs.
  • The ratios have increased dramatically, for example, in Bidibidi settlement, the teacher pupil ratio stands as high as 1:179, and the latrine to pupil ratio stands at 1:147.
  • In West Nile region approximately 1,065 additional teachers are needed along with 770 teacher accommodation units, 968 classrooms, 11,161 desks and 1,546 school latrines.