Supporting teachers in refugee settings: job conditions and career pathways

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 ensure all teachers in refugee settings are appropriately compensated for their work, fairly appraised, and have access to opportunities for career progression.


Global recommendations:


Ensure that teachers from refugee-hosting settings receive adequate benefits as well as hardship allowances

‘If benefits were improved, it would attract more female teachers’ (Stakeholder working in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee camps, Kenya) 

Refugee hosting regions tend to be remote and marginalised, with access to limited services. To ensure that teachers, particularly women, are supported to work in the often-harsh conditions, benefits and hardship allowances should be offered to support them. The provision of accommodation can also help attract and retain both national and refugee teachers. 


Consistently implement teacher appraisal processes

“ […] when the teacher scores are compared to student results, it does not match up because student results are poor… scores are based upon relationships rather than teaching quality” (Woreda Education Office (WEO) Representative in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia)

All teachers of refugees, both national and refugee, qualified and unqualified, should be regularly appraised. In countries that have a separate system for refugee teacher appraisal, this parallel  system  should be aligned with national procedures. This will allow national teachers to transition back into the national system more easily and will ensure that the same standards are applied to all teachers, whether or not they are qualified. 


Spotlight on Ethiopia: 

We have a monthly appraisal system. All teachers are evaluated by department heads and Vice director of school. Checklists are used to identify strong and weak teachers and grades are given. A teacher who gets an A gets an award, we do this every term. (School leader in refugee school, Tigray, Ethiopia)

In Ethiopia, teacher performance monitoring is carried out on either once a month or at the end of each semester. If possible, the teachers also receive annual appraisal results. In some cases, also the Regional Education Bureau (REB) or woreda officials take part in the appraisal process. 

For more information, see p.82 of the Ethiopia Case Study.


Maximise opportunities for career progression by aligning  professional development and appraisal with promotion opportunities 

Teachers in refugee settings, particularly refugee teachers in camp schools, are often faced with limited opportunities for career progression. This may be because policies require that head teachers are national, or due to the remote location of refugee regions, which leads to reduced access to career-enhancing professional development opportunities. Efforts should therefore be made to develop an inclusive career progression framework which recognises and supports participation of national and refugee teachers from refugee hosting regions in training and appraisal, and which is linked to clear promotion pathways. 


Promote the active participation of teachers from refugee-hosting regions in teacher associations and include the voice of refugee teachers in educational decision-making

Teacher associations and unions provide an important voice to teachers, but teachers from refugee areas, particularly refugee teachers, are not always allowed to join them. All teachers, including teaching assistants, should be provided with information about how to become a member of national teacher associations/union. This could include  outreach to teachers in more remote regions. Where teacher association/union membership is not widespread or where refugee teachers are unable to join, the government should make concerted efforts to make membership more inclusive and to include the voices of refugee teachers in national decision making. 


Spotlight on Uganda:

According to the General Secretary of Uganda National Teacher Union (UNATU), the teacher union has been working to improve the resilience of teachers in refugee settings. For instance, UNATU has been working in Palabek Refugee Camp, where they ‘advocated for a one-stop centre which handles all matters concerning teacher recruitment, deployment, confirmation and discipline’. The ultimate aim is to recruit, deploy and remunerate refugee teachers under the same conditions as national teachers in order to avoid conflict.

For more information, see the Uganda Case Study


Read the other articles in the series on: 


Support teachers in displacment 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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