02 Feb, 2022

Webinar: Complementary pathways through education for refugees in the West and Central Africa region

Student at UPSA

ESSA, UNHCR, and NORRAG co-organised a webinar on 15 February 2022 (14:00-15:30 CET) to discuss the report Complementary Pathways through Education for Refugees in the West and Central Africa Region, which mapped out refugee education pathways and access to higher education and training in 21 selected West and Central African countries. The event had interpretations in English and French.

Sustainable Development Goal 4 expresses the global ambition of ensuring inclusive, quality and equitable education for all, including marginalised groups, such as refugees. Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are poorly represented in education data, especially in West and Central African (WCA) countries. Thus, little is known about refugees’ post-secondary education opportunities, the conditions surrounding their access to higher and further education, and the challenges young refugees face to exercise their right to education.

In 2020-2021, UNHCR expressed its aim of responding to the education needs of three million vulnerable children, including refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), living in areas such as conflict-affected countries in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel. Furthermore, UNHCR’s post-secondary education target for 2030 is to enrol 15% of college-eligible refugees in tertiary, technical and vocational education and training – from a current baseline of 1% in WCA.

Against this background, ESSA and UNHCR have systematically mapped out refugee education pathways in 21 selected WCA countries(1). The webinar will share the report findings and open up the discussion on ways to bolster educational pathways for refugees across the WCA region. We invite you to read the report on ESSA or UNHCR websites.


  • Activity - Speaker/Moderator

  • Welcome - Dr Moira V. Faul, Executive Director, NORRAG & Dr Lucy Heady, CEO, ESSA

  • Setting scene - Ben Harvey, Senior Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Officer, Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa

  • Presentation - Dr Laté Lawson, Research Manager (Data), ESSA & Nabila Oumar Assan, refugee in Cameroon and Master’s student in France

  • Discussion, questions and answers with the audience - Moderator: Dr Pauline Essah, Director of Research and Insight, ESSA

  • Closing - Dr Moira V. Faul, Executive Director, NORRAG

Download detailed programme

about the speakers

  • Ben Harvey is the Senior Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Officer at the Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa located in Dakar, Senegal, and the Head of the Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Unit. Ben Harvey has been working with UNHCR and advocating for refugee’s rights for more than a decade and before being assigned to the Bureau in Dakar he worked for many years in the MENA region namely in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan).

  • Laté Lawson is a Research Manager (data) at ESSA. He is an economist and data analyst with extensive policy-driven research experience. He specialised in human development, sustainability as well as geospatial and non-parametric modelling. He is also passionate about Education, School-to-Work Transition and Job-Skill mismatch. Laté holds Master’s Degrees in Economics and Statistics and Econometrics and a PhD in Economics from the University of Strasbourg.

  • Pauline Essah is the Director of Research and Insight at ESSA, where she spearheads the generation of evidence and data for improving tertiary education in sub-Saharan Africa. Pauline spent nine years at the University of Cambridge, UK, where she was instrumental in establishing and managing the flagship, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary Cambridge-Africa Programme. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture at the University of Ghana and earned MPhil and PhD degrees in Biological Science from the University of Cambridge, UK.

  • Nabila Oumar Assan was born in the Central African Republic in 1995. After having to flee her country in 2014, she was recognised as a refugee in Cameroon. She studied a BTS in Communication of Organisations (2015-2017) at the Institute of Information and Communication of Douala, and then obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing in 2018. She arrived in France in September 2021 to study for a Master’s degree in Information and Communication at the University of Clermont Auvergne, thanks to a university corridor pilot project.

Organising partners

ESSA is a UK and Africa-based charity using evidence to improve education in sub-Saharan Africa.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.

NORRAG is an Associate Programme of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) and is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

For further information, please contact Izel Kipruto, Head of Communications, ESSA, izel@essa-africa.org or Paul Gerhard, Senior Lead Communications and Outreach Specialist, NORRAG, paul.gerhard@graduateinstitute.ch.


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