In this paper, we argue for the moral and not merely the legal right to education for refugee children. National education in many countries is challenged by refugee flows and influx of displaced people. However, there is a tendency to think of refugee flows as isolated events rather than parts of the dynamics of a world society that national education systems needs to respond responsibly to and build capacity for. Consequently, there is a gap between the legal right to education for refugee children and its practical realization, and granting refugee children access to national education systems is becoming part of the problem and not only a solution to the de-territorializing and cosmopolitan challenges of refugee flows and displaced people. We argue that education for children of refugees’ need to meet with a cosmopolitan design of education in order to respond responsibly to the right to education for refugee children. In the first part, we discuss the legal right to education for refugee children, and moral challenges with regard to its practical realization in nation-centred school systems and schools. In the second part, we discuss de-territorializing effects of refugees in education by reviewing research on refugee education, refugee children’s experiences of education and by discussing refugee education in Sweden as a case. In the final part, we discuss ideas for a cosmopolitan design of education. We argue for a moral commitment to the education of refugee children in order for us to respond responsibly to their legal and moral rights and situation, but also to the legal and moral rights, and situations of those affected in host countries. We also argue for the importance of critical cosmopolitan imagination in education that does not restrict education to norms of national loyalty and national integration, or to economic norms of competitiveness and effectiveness. © The Author(s) 2023.

DOI: 10.1177/14782103231185621
ISSN: 1478-2103