PlayMatters is being implemented in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, collectively home to over one million refugee children. We are working with teachers, caregivers, community leaders and governments to improve holistic learning outcomes for 800,000 refugee and host community children aged 3-12+ using learning-through-play methodologies.

After all, we know that play matters—and the earliest years count the most. Learning through play helps kids develop social, emotional, creative, physical and cognitive skills. It strengthens the brain connections essential for future development. And most importantly, it gives children the opportunity to build resilience and imagine a future of their own design.

Around the world, more than 62 million children remain out of school in countries affected by war and displacement. Through first-of-their-kind programs for schools and families, we hope to reach our goal of making learning through play a centerpiece of childhood for kids everywhere.

Test your knowledge

About how long are most refugees displaced from their homes?
  • 1 year
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • 20 years
Correct Answer
Incorrect Answer

The average length of displacement is 10 or more years. That means a child can grow into adulthood without ever being able to return to their home country. As conflicts last longer and people are displaced for decades, the needs of refugees have changed. Education has become increasingly important.

A generation at risk

The IRC and the LEGO Foundation are working together to solve one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time. Here's a look at the problem, by the numbers:

> 62M

children are missing school in countries affected by war and displacement.

During conflict and crisis, education protects children and sets them up for a better future.

Learn how the IRC helps.

> 3M

refugees are living in limbo in East African countries struggling to host them.

Some of these refugees have been displaced for as long as three decades. It's a hidden crisis.

How Uganda is embracing refugees

< 3%

of all humanitarian funding has gone toward education in recent years.

With nearly half of refugees being children, bigger and bolder solutions are needed.

See the IRC's education goals.

Our partners


The $100 million PlayMatters initiative is led by the International Rescue committee, and includes Plan International, War Child HollandInnovations for Poverty Action, and the Behavioural Insights Team in partnership with the LEGO Foundation

The promise of education

A lifeline for refugee children


We know that nearly half of all refugees are children, but humanitarian funding still thinks of education as just an add-on. We need big solutions with bold ideas that put education at the forefront of humanitarian response. With the LEGO Foundation’s investment in play-based learning and the IRC’s expertise in reaching the most vulnerable, this partnership has the potential to reshape education for a generation of refugee children.

David Miliband,
President and CEO, International Rescue Committee