Understanding and Teaching Refugees, Migration and Asylum


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Refugee Week

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How can schools raise awareness and understanding of refugees, migration and asylum seekers?

For Refugee Week 2019, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is launching a ‘Teaching About Refugees’ resource kit for teachers in the UK, including short, animated videos for the classroom with 24 lesson plans to provide teachers with guidance and the resources they need for addressing topics including refugees, asylum, migrants and statelessness.

‘Teaching About Refugees’ Resources

The issues and debate surrounding refugees and migration have been more relevant and pointed than ever in the last decade. Over the past five years, students have been increasingly exposed to conflicting news reports about refugees and migrants. This has created a massive challenge for teachers, who are looking to give their students an informed perspective on this issue.

The learning resources in the kit are both adaptable and completely free of charge. They also include professional development resources and guidance for primary and secondary schools teachers on including refugee children in their classes. For example, the teaching kit includes a series of eight animated videos and accompanying discussion-based lesson plans that clearly define terms which are often confused, including:

  • Refugees
  • Migrants
  • Internally Displaced Persons
  • Asylum Seekers
  • Returnees
  • Stateless People

The resources also explain why using the right definitions matters so much, which is vital in ensuring that refugees are treated with dignity and respect, and receive the protection that they have a right to. In addition, the kit contains lesson plans and activity sheets, which provide facts and figures about the current number of displaced people, where refugees come from, and where those refugees are now. It’s perfect for providing an overview and better understanding of the current refugee situation.

UNHCR is encouraging teachers to share their feedback so it can improve its teaching materials. Simply e-mail Frederik Smets via smets@unhcr.org. Besides the teaching resources, there is also a section focusing on professional development. Specifically, how to approach teaching refugee students you may have in your classes.

These include tips on two main areas:

  • Understanding language acquisition for refugee children
  • How to deal with children who may be experiencing stress and trauma.

There is always room for teacher feedback on resources, particularly ones such as these at an early stage of development and distribution. As such, UNHCR is looking to generate discussion around the resources …

Do You Understand Refugee Issues?

The current and ongoing crises have brought the issues surrounding refugees, asylum and migration to global attention in recent years. Biased and inaccurate representations of the situation and the plight of refugees have led to misunderstandings around who is a refugee and who counts as a migrant, amongst other issues.

Take a look at these startling facts about refugees.

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We don’t want the conversation to be confined to Refugee Week. We would encourage teachers to look ahead to the new school year in September and how they can incorporate these assets into their teaching more generally.

That could incorporated into geography, citizenship, personal social and health education, form time or assemblies. We hope you can find a place and time for #TeachingAboutRefugees. You can find the full range of resources here and on UNHCR’s website. Please contact Frederik Smets if you have any questions about the resources: smets@unhcr.org

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