Date of Award

Winter 3-17-2017

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Elizabeth Bruch

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Sundermann


International law protects the right to education for refugee children, as is stated in multiple treaties and documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1966), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990). The purpose of this research is to highlight the historical development of education for refugee children, through programs led by Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), as well as to emphasize the importance of education as part of current humanitarian interventions. This thesis examines a past example of children as refugees, centered on Jewish children located in displacement camps in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and how the issue of their education was handled by newly formed IGOs. Legal frameworks are explained in regard to how international law protects the rights of child refugees, as well as theories of educational pedagogy. Contemporary examples focus on educational opportunities for Syrian refugee children living in United Nations-operated camps in Jordan, as well as opportunities post-resettlement in the United States. Traditionally all humanitarian aid consists of three key “pillars”, where the focus is on food, medicine, and shelter. The international community has recognized that education is a fundamental right, but more must be done to ensure that it is better funded and included in all emergency responses. This can be achieved by incorporating education as the fourth pillar of humanitarian aid.