Student project tackling the inequality of education for refugee children makes global competition semi-finals

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Category: News

Refugee child in Lebanon

Congratulations to the department’s Jeyda Simren Sekhon Ataç (MSc in Education – Comparative and International Education) and fellow University students Dhruv Gupta (Blavatnik School of Government), Charlotte Notaras (Department of Social Policy and Intervention) and Sophie Sikina (Said Business School), who successfully made it to the semi-final of the 2020 Map the System Challenge for their project focused on exploring the inequality of education for refugee children in Lebanon – a country with the highest ratio of refugees in the world.

Map the System Challenge is a global competition run by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School (University of Oxford) that challenges systems-level thinking about social and environmental change, exercised through research and a report created on a global problem of choice.

An excerpt from the group’s report depicts the importance of this issue, both to Lebanon and the world:

“Globally, the number of displaced individuals is growing exponentially, with climate migrants projected to reach 1 billion by 2050. Per capita, Lebanon has the highest ratio of refugees in the world. In 2018, the United Nations estimated that one in five people living in Lebanon was a Syrian refugee. As of 2019, 58% of refugee children in Lebanon (approximately 385,000 individuals) were out of school and 48% of children (roughly 319,000) did not have access to any learning opportunities. Educating the vast numbers of refugee children in Lebanon not only constitutes a cornerstone to enable national integration, but also acts in the hope of working against promulgation of a “lost generation” and safeguarding the prosperity and security of generations to come.”

The interdisciplinary team of four students competed against over 60 submissions to secure a place in the semi-final, which involved a virtual presentation followed by a live Q&A.

This group came together through their shared passion for education and belief in its transformative potential for the world whilst on the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship’s ‘Leading for Impact’ programme – a personal development programme that aims to develop a small cohort of high potential individuals as future impact leaders.

Jeyda Simren Sekhon Ataç studies on the Masters in Education (Comparative & International Education) at the department – a full time, one year, master’s course that aims to develop students’ understanding of the factors that shape educational systems in different parts of the world and the research skills to compare policy choices and critically evaluate major debates, policies, histories and practices of education globally.

Commenting on the success of the project, Simren said: “There is no doubt that my time on the department’s Comparative & International Education programme has expanded my knowledge of the educational world and enhanced my critical thinking skills, all while exposing me to a number of perspectives. My Masters dissertation looks at the utilisation of technology for Syrian refugee education in Lebanon and so Map the System proved itself the perfect opportunity to deep dive my understanding of the context even further. I would like to thank Dr Niall Winters, Dr Yasmine El-Masri and Dr Ellie Ott in particular, who have all been extremely supportive of my research and helped connect me with people whose insights have proven all the more invaluable to both projects.”

To find out more about their project, “ Children in Crisis: The Challenge of quality education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon” contact

To find our more about the MSc in Education (Comparative and International Education) at the department, see here.

Photo courtesy of Al Zoubi, Saja. Lebanon 2016-2017.