Study 1: Voices of Refugee Youth

A youth-centred longitudinal panel study on the impact of post-primary education for refugees in Pakistan and Rwanda.

Study overview

The critical importance of post-primary education in emergencies is increasingly acknowledged within the global community. The Voices of Refugee Youth research study contributes to this evidence base, with a particular focus on the transitions of refugees from post-primary education to employment or future education opportunities.

The Voices of Refugee Youth research study was developed in response to these issues and designed on the basis of an initial scoping exercise carried out in Pakistan and Rwanda.


The foundation of the research study was developed through multiple conversations between Jigsaw, REUK and UNHCR. Each partner had an acute awareness of the issues at the forefront of refugee education. The primary objective of the research study was to:

contribute to building the evidence base for post-primary education for refugee youth, through a youth-centred methodological approach that addresses each of the research questions.

The additional objectives of the study were to:

inform good practice around refugee youth participation in high level research.

contribute to improving monitoring, evaluation and learning within refugee youth education programming.

grow the body of research in the refugee youth education sector.

At the proposal stage of this study, eight research questions were put forward to guide the study; these were then updated and refined over the inception phase as the research team consulted with refugee youth in Pakistan and Rwanda. Over the course of the four years of implementation, the research questions were further refined as the global context shifted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated education challenges. This resulted in a final set of seven research questions. Further information can be found within the final research report.

Focus countries/context


In total, 512 young Afghan refugees took part in the longitudinal survey.


In total, 614 young Burundian & Congolese refugees participated in the longitudinal survey.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), located in the north-west of Pakistan, near the Afghan border, is the province with the highest number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and therefore the highest number of secondary and higher education Afghan students. In order to keep the research logistics realistic, the study focused on Peshawar District where the majority of the schools and universities reside within KP.

Refugee Researchers engaged with participants in four of the refugee camps within the country (Mahama, Kiziba, Gihembe and Kigeme) as well as university students in Kigali, Hue and Kiziba. The sampling process was facilitated by fewer challenges related to insecurity or inaccessibility than their counterparts faced in Pakistan. The logistical implications of data collection were also different, with the majority of refugees living and studying at secondary school in designated camps.

Research design summary

The Voices of Refugee Youth research involved a panel study: a form of longitudinal research which tracked two cohorts of refugee students—from the final year of upper secondary school and of undergraduate-level university degrees—as they completed their current stage of education and, in some cases, transitioned into employment or further studies. In total, 1,126 refugee youth were tracked across the three data points of the survey, which focused on capturing participants’ experiences and perspectives of post-primary education and the realisation of their plans for the future. Key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) provided supplementary qualitative data, which was gathered to add nuance and additional detail to the findings of the quantitative survey. The study design and timeline was adapted to account for the Covid-19 pandemic, and to facilitate the continuous participation of Youth Researchers throughout the research process.

Voices of Refugee Youth webinar

On 18th October 2023, to celebrate the launch of the research publications, Jigsaw and REUK hosted a webinar to share the findings from Voices of Refugee Youth and reflect on its participatory methodology. We were also delighted to be joined by Cirenia Chávez Villegas from UNHCR and Salim Salamah from FCDO. If you were unable to join us and would like to listen to the webinar, then we are pleased to share a recording of the event.