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NEW COURSE: Teaching about Refugees with the UNHCR

The Schools of Sanctuary UK team are delighted to once again be partnering with the UNHCR to offer their exciting ‘Teaching about Refugees’ course to all those in the Schools of Sanctuary networks throughout November and December 2023.

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In this engaging and interactive course for teachers, developed by the UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, participants will leave with the knowledge, strategies and confidence they need to teach about and with refugee students, in their specific teaching context.

Starting with the reasons why you may want to teach about refugees in your classroom and build your students’ knowledge about the subject, this course will provide you with pedagogical approaches, ideas and suggested resources to help you address the topic of forced displacement in the classroom. Participants will also learn about some challenges you may be facing when you are teaching refugee children in your classroom, especially when they are still in a phase where they are adapting to new environment after being displaced and consider approaches to best meet their needs and support them effectively.

Both aspects of the course seem very different but you can see them as two sides of the same pedagogical coin. Refugees hosted in classrooms with teachers and children that know where they come from, why they were displaced and how they arrived in a new community will find themselves in a far more constructive and knowledgeable learning environment than those who are hosted in communities that reject them. Teachers and students welcoming refugees in their classroom will benefit from a better understanding of some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including war and forced displacement.

Education is a human right and a fundamental right of refugees in their host countries. It is also the foundation upon which many refugee children and their families can rebuild their lives and thrive.

We hope this dual pedagogical approach of teaching about and teaching with refugees will benefit both displaced learners and the teachers and students that welcome them.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Clearly define key terms related to refugees, asylum and migration, like ‘refugee’, ‘migrant’ and ‘asylum-seeker’.
  2. Explain where refugees come from, where they go, and why on a global level.
  3. Create lesson plans to teach others about refugees (including primary and secondary school children, families, and colleagues in your learning community).
  4. Describe the refugee and migrant communities in your local community.
  5. Compare and contrast children’s and youths’ cultural and educational
  6.  experiences around the globe.
  7. Develop lesson plans (and school integration practices) that are inclusive of refugee student perspectives and experiences.
  8. Define and make sense of digital and media literacy.
  9. Create and share a refugee education resource toolkit.


Course Design

This course is a roughly 6-week course that combines online independent learning, with interactive online sessions, assigned activities and a final project.

  • Modular: The course is organized into thematic modules or units. Each module starts with an opening discussion, moves into an exploration of content and resources, then an application process, and wraps up with closing reflections.
  • Sequential and participatory: Each module in the course builds upon the previous module and asks you to engage as an active learner and contributor to the larger community of learners in your cohort. Within each module, there are discussion assignments and other tasks that ask you to apply ideas and materials to your own teaching and learning context.
    • Module 1 introduces key terminology and global facts and figures around forced displacement.
    • Module 2 focuses in on local community context and provokes thinking about schools and schooling in our local contexts.
    • Module 3 explores classrooms and learning within refugee education contexts, including within our own classrooms.
    • Module 4 pulls back to look at messaging and media portrayals of refugees, inviting reflection on materials presented in earlier modules alongside critical media literacy materials shared in module 4.
    • Module 5 offers an opportunity to synthesize learning and gather resources into your own resource catalogue or toolkit.
  • Intentional: The language and materials used in this course reflect the work of UNHCR to contribute to refugee protection around the world. We believe one must learn about refugees and, then, must work with and for refugees toward full integration and well-being.


Time Requirements

  • This entire course is designed to be completed in around 6-8 weeks. You can log on to the course platform at at any time, so you can pace your progress through the course as you see fit.
  • Each of the five core modules is designed to take between 3-5 hours in total. You can break up your sessions as you see fit.
  • Each module is self-paced, but the overall course is structured and facilitated. Within each module, move at a pace that supports your learning and that fits your schedule. Please pay attention, also, to the course calendar and try to post within the opening/closing dates for each module (communicated to you by e-mail by our instructor). This will allow you to interact meaningfully with your colleagues and your course instructor. It will also allow your colleagues and instructor to learn from your experiences and perspectives.


Assignments and assessments

  • There are discussion threads throughout the course, on the bottom of selected course pages. These discussion threads provide opportunities to share ideas and resources, consider different viewpoints, and reflect upon your learning and growth.
  • You can write comments and also share links and upload other materials into the threads if you like. The discussion threads are only open to the participants in this course and are not publicly accessible.
  • We would like you to actively participate in the discussions by posting in a timely manner and, if possible, replying to 2-3 colleagues’ posts each time you log on.
  • Be respectful and professional in communications, but don’t be shy to ask for clarification or elaboration. Be generous in your support, as well, offering tips, resources, and other suggestions in your replies that may be of value.
  • Each module has an assignment which asks you to apply what you’ve learned to your teaching context. This is intended to be practical work, immediately of use and value in your day-to-day work. We will prompt you to send your assignment to the instructor where applicable.
  • Each module also has a pre-quiz/activity and a post-quiz/survey. These are simple checks for comprehension to help you monitor your progress through the course. They serve as important feedback loops.
  • There are also pre and post surveys for the course. These will help us capture critical feedback on this course. They will also offer insight regarding the learning journey of your cohort and progress toward course objectives.
  • To receive the completion certificate, you must complete each module and its respective assignment in the course.


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