UNHCR Announces a Partnership with Microsoft Supporting Connected Education Opportunities for Refugees


As part of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, UNHCR launched a partnership with Microsoft to develop digital skills and literacy for young women and men supporting the “connected education” program in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. The collaboration supports the UN Refugee Agency’s vision that all refugees have access to accredited, quality and relevant learning and training opportunities.


“UNHCR is grateful for Microsoft’s commitment to connected education, helping to equip refugees, and the communities that host them, with digital skills they require to engage in the economic, social, and cultural world of today, and tomorrow,” said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Connected education describes the use of technologies to enhance and expand learning and training opportunities and places emphasis on the goal of connecting students to people, knowledge, news and experiences in order to promote quality-learning opportunities.

As UNHCR works to create a new digital education standard for refugees, Anne-Marie Grey, USA for UNHCR’s Executive Director and CEO, recognized the long-term benefit of Microsoft’s commitment: "Private sector engagement with refugees creates shared value for all stakeholders – from the refugees and companies concerned, to the host communities and wider society in which refugees live."

The collaboration with Microsoft aims to empower 25,000 refugee and host community youth in Kakuma with digital skills and computer science trainings by 2021, and includes establishing:

  • One satellite campus, the Turkana West University Campus, which will expand access to accredited higher education, using blended learning approaches to allow students to access degrees and training from institutions around the world.
  • Three digital youth hubs that will offer computer science, multimedia design and coding classes for youth.
  • Six new digital schools that will equip the remaining secondary schools in Kakuma with cutting-edge digital resources to enhance learning.

“Together with UNHCR, we will harness our combined expertise, resources, and advocacy to empower young women and men refugees with access to digital skills, computer science and certified training. Refugees are one of the most digitally excluded populations in the world and our goal is to take part in delivering a sustainable global solution that fosters youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Mary Snapp, President of Microsoft Philanthropies.

The Kakuma program will undoubtedly be a start to unlocking holistic educational models that can be applied in countries around the world.

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