Beating the Odds: Challenges and Opportunities of Urban Refugee Education in Kenya


 Presenter (s) A. Munise Gultekin, University of Pennsylvania

Displacement due to ethnic, religious, and political disputes has become a pressing topic in the agendas of many countries and international actors. Millions of children suffer from lack of education under these circumstances; hence, education has stood out as one of the humanitarian responses in the refugee settings with regard to its role for social cohesion and sustainable peace for conflict-affected zones. With almost a half-million refugees, more than 50 percent of whom are children, Kenya has a long history of hosting refugees and attracted international research and attention owing to the protracted situation of refugees. Even though the country has shown great efforts for educational and living conditions of refugee children in collaboration with national and international partners, due to the gaps between policy and practice, the urban refugee education in particular still faces several challenges on top of numerous displacement struggles. Given the situation in Kenya, this paper seeks to address the following central problem through a literature review and offers recommendations:

  • How can Government of Kenya (GoK) and Kenya Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) drive systemic change in Kenya’s urban refugee education to support increased learning and promote social cohesion and inclusion of refugee children?

A. Munise Gultekin, University of Pennsylvania, is an enthusiastic and motivated researcher and practitioner in the field of international education with academic and professional experience in Turkey, Germany, and the United States. Master’s degree candidate in the International Educational Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Specialized in language acquisition, multicultural education, curriculum development, education policy and planning. Research interests in the education of immigrants and host communities, the social and political rights of marginalized populations, the role of education and educational policy in social cohesion and inclusion. Experienced in curriculum design, foreign language teaching, multicultural teamwork, qualitative and quantitative research design. E-mail:

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