Canada launches global campaign to address education crisis for refugees and internally displaced children and youth 

News release

February 8, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the education of 9 out of 10 learners worldwide, millions of them children living in countries facing a humanitarian crisis. The impacts are particularly severe for refugees and other forcibly displaced children and youth, especially girls, who are most at risk of being left behind.

Today, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, announced the launch of the Together for Learning campaign, a 3-year, international, targeted effort to promote quality education and lifelong learning for refugees, forcibly displaced and host-community children and youth.

Minister Gould also launched the Refugee Education Council, a key initiative of this campaign. The council is made up of youth advocates, women, teachers, parents and community leaders who are living as refugees or forcibly displaced persons, or living in communities that host them. Their knowledge and experience will shape solutions and approaches to help address education needs.

The Together for Learning campaign will focus on 4 key areas of work: the delivery of effective programs building on Canada’s Charlevoix Education Initiative, amplifying local voices, diplomatic engagement and improving the quality, availability and use of data to guide efforts and ensure effectiveness.

This innovative and inclusive approach also includes a soon-to-be-launched call for concept notes, which will bring together Canadian organizations and local actors in sub-Saharan Africa to promote change and build evidence on the best ways to address the education needs of refugees and displaced children and youth, especially girls.

Minister Gould made these announcements at an online launch event attended by Refugee Education Council members, youth, and Alphonso Davies, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees High Profile Supporter, Canadian professional soccer player and former refugee. At the launch, participants shared their stories of displacement and their passion for education.


“By listening to, learning from and acting on the advice of refugees and forcibly displaced people, we will increase local capacity and make room for new and diverse ways of programming and delivering education. The Together for Learning campaign will strengthen partnerships and unite global stakeholders, national governments, communities and youth to drive global change. Together we will ensure we do not lose hard-won gains in education and that the future of all children and youth is full of hope.”

- Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

“My dream has been to improve the identity, image and reputation of refugees, to become a role model to young ladies and to be an advocate for other forcibly displaced children and youth who don’t have a platform to have their voices heard. I have already achieved some of these ambitions, and I look forward to using my role on the council to help even more refugees reach their full potential through education.”

- Foni Joyce Vuni, community worker and youth activist, Refugee Education Council member 

“The need of refugees and displaced people to be educated, have a voice, and be included in their own solutions is something I learned first-hand, as a South Sudanese refugee who was raised in Uganda. It is this experience of marginalization that led me to join the Refugee Education Council. I believe that it’s significant for refugees and internally displaced people to be not only provided with quality education, but to also have the space to articulate their own needs. By integrating the expertise of refugees, Canada can lead other donor countries by example.”

- Malual Bol Kiir, refugee leader and advocate, Refugee Education Council member

“The new Refugee Education Council will provide a new way for displaced youth to share their voices and lived experiences to inform policy, and it will especially ensure that adolescent girls and young women can tell their stories. Along with the other members of the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group, we look forward to working with and learning from the council members so we can support Government of Canada commitments to address the growing global displacement crisis. Together, we can help ensure all girls and boys can realize their enormous potential through equal access to quality education and true representation in decisions that impact them.”

- Michael Messenger, President and CEO, World Vision Canada

Quick facts

  • Approximately 3.7 million refugee children are out of school, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

  • Girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school if they live in conflict-affected countries. For every 10 refugee boys enrolled in secondary-level education, there are only about 7 refugee girls.

  • The Refugee Education Council was created in partnership with the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG), a network of development, humanitarian and advocacy partners working to advance global education policy and programs for the world’s most vulnerable children and youth. The council will be hosted by World Vision Canada.

  • The CIEPWG is made up of the following Canadian organizations: Canadian Feed the Children, Canadian Teachers Federation, Children Believe, CODE, Global Citizen, Grandmothers Advocacy Network, ONE Canada, Plan International Canada, Results Canada, Right to Play, Save the Children Canada, SOS Children’s Villages, War Child Canada, UNICEF Canada, World Vision Canada and World University Service of Canada. The network is co-chaired by Right to Play and UNICEF Canada.

  • During its G7 presidency in 2018, Canada, at the Charlevoix Summit, mobilized a historic investment of nearly $3.8 billion, including Canada’s commitment of $400 million, for education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations.

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Guillaume Dumas
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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