The Challenge of Education of Refugee Children to Avoid Creating Tomorrow’s Extremists

10 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2017

See all articles by Stephan Breu

Stephan Breu

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi Christian University Inc.; Kutafin Moscow State Law University; Universidad Complutense de Madrid - Grupo CONCILIUM; Swiss Centre for International Humanitarian Law; Legal Forum Cannes

Date Written: December 14, 2017


An estimated 65 million people have been forced to flee their homelands in the last few years. Average length of displacement for a refugee is now estimated at 17 years. A whole generation of young people are forced to spend their whole youth in refugee camps and can only be educated there. On the other side the international community is strongly underfinancing any education efforts by aid agencies and international organizations. So, it is common that classes have as many as 100 children and teachers must deal with inevitable language barriers. We also have to remember that most children are traumatized by their experiences of fleeing their homes. Whereas the focus of most efforts is aimed at primary education it should not be forgotten that it is also necessary to support older children even up to higher education. A lot of the refugee adolescents have to support their families through activities that make education impossible. According to the UNHCR, more than 3.5 million refugee children do not have the chance to attend an appropriate school education. The inclusion of refugees in the national education systems of their host countries is a promising way of softening the challenges but the financial burden is too heavy to be carried without substantial support from the international community. Unfortunately, this is still dramatically lacking. Seeing these challenges in the world’s toughest classrooms we need to be aware that missing this opportunity to help and educate these traumatized children will fuel the feelings of being disadvantaged and forgotten by the rest of the world. Such feelings are smoothening the way for disaffection and they may become lured to be part of religious extremist organizations if not sufficiently addressed by providing sufficient infrastructure and finances for proper primary and secondary education.

Keywords: education, refugee children, refugee camps, religious extremists

Suggested Citation

Breu, Stephan, The Challenge of Education of Refugee Children to Avoid Creating Tomorrow’s Extremists (December 14, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Stephan Breu (Contact Author)

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