Skip to main content

The Importance of Refugee Education

Colgate associate professor John Palmer reflects on refugee education on the Korean peninsula and beyond.
John Palmer

For refugees, fleeing their country for another comes with huge sacrifices. Not only are they leaving their home for the unknown, they are also leaving their families, friends, and neighbors, and a familiar way of life. For young people, there comes the additional burden of attempting to continue — or, in many cases, begin — their education in an unfamiliar place, in an unfamiliar language.

John Palmer, associate professor at Colgate University, researches refugees and the schools that welcome them, with particular focus on refugees from North Korea now living in the United States and South Korea. The challenges are numerous, says Palmer, including culture shock, language barriers, divided families, and lack of prior formal schooling. But, this is a challenge that schools must take on.

"If we fail to educate … those who are struggling the most within our school, we will be as a society at a significant loss," says Palmer.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Palmer, author of the forthcoming Educating the Enemy, a look at how schools in South Korea are supporting North Korean refugee students, reflects on refugee education on the Korean peninsula and beyond.

About the Harvard EdCast

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber and co-produced by Jill Anderson, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.


An education podcast that keeps the focus simple: what makes a difference for learners, educators, parents, and communities

Related Articles