The increasing number of refugees, coupled with the protracted nature of refugee situations around the globe, underline the critical importance of refugee education. Since 2010, education has been one of the global strategic priorities of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), but much of the focus and resourcing has been on primary education and, to a lesser extent, secondary education. Recognition of the role of lifelong learning for refugees has been much slower, only recently entering into prominence in global documents and policies. For refugees, the hope and desire for education that will enable them to achieve sustainable and dignified livelihoods has always been a core part of their realities. Lifelong learning has the potential to provide the bridge between disrupted schooling and future aspirations of self-reliance and participation in society. This article situates the emerging agenda for refugee lifelong learning in a postcolonial and global context. The author begins with a critical examination of the postcolonial “logics” which continue to construct and frame the study of refugees, before problematising how lifelong learning is incorporated and conceptualised in global policy. She draws the conclusion that despite global commitments, the realisation of lifelong learning for refugee youth and adults is likely remain frustrated for some time by normative assumptions firmly embedded in the conceptualisation of lifelong learning and the education frameworks of nation states. However, she argues that the recent global disruption to education and the inequalities that have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic provide an opportunity to rethink how education is conceptualised and the importance of providing lifelong learning opportunities to enable young people and adults to fulfil their aspirations.

DOI: 10.1007/s11159-021-09927-5
ISSN: 0020-8566