Attracting, recruiting and deploying teachers in refugee settings

Authored by Candyce Billy and Katja Hinz from IIEP-UNESCO with Helen West from Education Development Trust. This article is part of a series of articles on teacher management in refugee settings.


This article highlights global recommendations to attract, recruit and deploy teachers in refugee settings, and to improve the equity and gender parity dimensions of staffing processes.


Global recommendations:


Align recruitment and deployment criteria and processes to national standards

Where the recruitment process is not managed by the government, it is important to ensure that the recruitment criteria and processes are aligned with the national education system standards. This requires clear communication on the mandates of the different entities, as well as clear dissemination and awareness-raising of existing recruitment and deployment policies and procedures. In this context, the national body responsible for teacher recruitment should play a key role in recruitment processes in refugee settings.


Make recruitment and deployment decisions based on needs at the sub-national and local levels

Systematic consultation between the national and sub-national levels should take place to ensure that national recruitment processes are equitable, needs-based and flexible enough to respond to fluctuating numbers of refugees. This involves strengthening the capacities of sub-national level actors, including head teachers, to collect school-level data to inform national decision making.  


Develop and clearly communicate the process for the recognition of qualifications

Refugee teaching credentials are not systematically recognised by host countries, limiting the number of refugees with teacher qualifications from their home country who can be recruited as professional teachers. In line with the International Labor Organization/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers (paragraph 18) and with agreements in the East African Region such as the IGAD Djibouti Declaration and Plan of Action on Refugee Education and the East African Community Treaty (Article 102), governments should strengthen existing mechanisms or establish processes to support cross-border teacher accreditation and certification. 


Spotlight on Uganda: 

In Uganda, the Government has put into place mechanisms to facilitate the recognition of refugee teachers' foreign certifications. This initiative is supported by the Uganda Higher Education Qualifications Framework (UHEQF) and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), in partnership with the International Labour Organisation and the support of development and humanitarian partners.

For more information, see the Uganda Case Study.


The roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants should be clearly defined during the recruitment process 

“The furthest I can post a female teacher is Letea and Makutano area and along the road to Lokichogio where they can get a house. In Nanaom, we have houses but cannot take a female teacher due to insecurity.” (Teacher Service Commission Official, Kenya) 

Across many contexts, there are significant challenges in hiring female teachers, especially for teaching positions in remote, insecure, and/or hard-to-reach areas because women  are especially impacted by insecurity and the lack of access to healthcare and other services. Furthermore, in many contexts girls face additional challenges to attain the necessary qualifications to become teachers. These challenges need to be addressed and female students supported to increase the number of potential female recruits. Additionally, the importance of female teachers needs to be taken into consideration when the recruitment process is harmonised with national standards. Addressing female teacher shortages  also requires family-friendly strategies to support female teachers with adequate lodging and childcare to encourage both recruitment and retention. Providing female teachers with training opportunities to progress into senior roles might attract more women to the profession.   


Read the other articles in the series on: 
Support teachers in displacement situations

In the lead up to the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) 2023, the Task Team on Teachers developed guidance for States and other pledging entities to effectively address the needs of teachers working in contexts of displacement and crisis. The guidance includes 10 key actions that stakeholders can commit to at the upcoming Global Refugee Forum.

Access the guidance  

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