More than half of the 65 million refugees and displaced persons in the world are children. Most are not in school, as rising numbers strain local education systems to their limits. One of the primary challenges is an acute shortage of trained teachers, and existing teachers are often overstressed, under-equipped and unprepared to handle the psychological trauma and protection challenges faced by displaced children. The world needs teachers trained specifically to provide instruction in complex humanitarian situations. Canada, with its reputation for excellent teacher training programs, is well placed to fill this gap by creating a Bachelor of Humanitarian Education degree program that trains international “humanitarian teachers” to work specifically with refugee and displaced students.
The international community is already addressing the education gap in many ways, including by funding initiatives, offering technological solutions, improving infrastructure — such as bricks-and-mortar schools — and providing scholarship opportunities for refugee students. Creating a specialized Bachelor of Humanitarian Education degree would build on these initiatives, producing the additional teachers needed to support greater enrolment of refugee students, while simultaneously ensuring an emphasis on the quality of education.