A culturally embedded and play-based approach to supporting the mental health, development and education of displaced children affected by conflict and crisis

The British Academy is supporting bilateral partnership research chairs delivering a programme of institutional strengthening on education research in conflict and crisis.
Project status

Swansea University, UK, has partnered with BRAC University, Bangladesh, to implement a research programme that will look at how integrating culturally contextualized play interventions in crisis and conflict settings can lead to improved learning outcomes and psychosocial well-being for children and adolescents aged 0-18. BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) from BRAC University will be involved in this partnership.

The capacity building by the Research Chair will enable BRAC IED and BIGD to work together more efficiently to design, implement and evaluate education interventions. The Chair will also help both the institutes to connect with play therapists, researchers, and other relevant experts working in the humanitarian sector. This will further enhance the capacity of BRAC IED and BIGD’s expertise on play and mental health related to education. While working in the Rohingya camps, BRAC and BRAC University has found that the humanitarian approach and the discourse around this has been primarily dominated by agencies in particular geographies, and this project provides the opportunity for institutions like BRAC University, which are familiar with the local context, to develop their capacity and to raise an alternate voice around what works in conflict settings.

UNICEF reports that children represent 50% of refugee populations. The impact of displacement on children is significant, impacting mental health and development across domains. Only around 3% of global humanitarian funding is allocated to education and with such a sizeable population of children affected, cost-effective sustainable interventions are much needed. Based on research underpinning the developmental and therapeutic benefits of play, this research develops and pilots a sustainable model of integrating play in educational contexts to strengthen mental health and subsequent developmental and educational outcomes of displaced Rohingya and host community children in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

This programme is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and forms one part of a wider Education Research in Conflict and Protracted Crisis (ERICC) programme.

ERICC is a six-year programme (2021-2027) with the objective of delivering and maximising uptake of new, operationally- and policy-relevant evidence on “what works” to deliver education to children affected by conflict and protracted crises.

The Bilateral Research Chairs will help to develop networks, mobility and exchange between institutions and will play an active role in developing the research capacity, profile and sustainability of the institutions involved and their future researchers. Delivering programmes of institutional strengthening, they will address the challenges of building research and institutional strength in areas of conflict and crisis. As a part of this work, they will also link with the main ERICC research consortium, led by the International Rescue Committee UK.

Bilateral Research Chair: Dr Justine Howard, Swansea University, UK, and BRAC University, Bangladesh.

Funded by

Logo of UK aid (union jack with text below)

Sign up to our email newsletters