Education International launches today in Beyrouth a new report by Dr. Francine Menashy and Dr. Zeena Zakharia (University of Massachusetts Boston) exploring the complex interrelationship between conflict and private sector participation in education through a case study of the education of Syrian refugees.

The research findings reveal the growing role of corporate actors in the education of refugee children and highlight the ethical tensions between humanitarian and profit motivations in the context of crisis and displacement.

According to the research, 144 non-state actors are currently involved in the education of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Tukey and Lebanon, of which 61 are businesses and private foundations, the majority based in the Global North.

Many private actors with different aims and priorities – some explicitly putting forward profit-oriented arguments for getting involved in the education of refugee children - results in a fragmented education response. Coordination is deemed insufficient by many stakeholders on the ground, resulting in duplicated, disorganised or imbalanced interventions. Without consulting local stakeholders, including Ministries of Education, teachers or teacher unions, private actors also lack an adequate awareness of the issues at play for successful implementation of initiatives at a classroom level.

The study shows that nearly half of private actors involved in Syrian refugee education are supporting some form of educational technology, which is often decontextualized from the reality on the ground, in terms of content, form, delivery, and needs.

Finally, the collected evidence indicates a growing role of private actors as key decision-makers in the field of education policy, at the expense of democratic, transparent and accountable decision-making processes.

The researchers identified a number of recommendations emphasizing the duty of the State with respect to rights of Syrian refugee children including the provision of free quality public education.

The report is available in English and Arabic.