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Lesson plans for ages 9-11 in Geography: Refugees - Who, Where and Why?

Teaching Tools, 26 March 2007

© UNHCR/A.Branthwaite
A child looks out of a giant hole in the wall of his home in Beit Yahoun, southern Lebanon.

LESSON 2: Why Do People Leave Their Home Countries?


A large map of the world to be set up at the front of the class room.


In order to give the students a sense of orientation, spend a few minutes at the beginning of the lesson with the large map of the world. Some entry behaviour questions and remarks could be:

  • Let's identify the continents of the world.
    • a) Where are we on the map?
    • b) What is the name of our continent?
    • c) On which continent would you find Rwanda? Bosnia-Herzegovina? Vietnam? Ethiopia? Guatemala? Liberia? Sudan? Chechnya? Afghanistan? Myanmar (Burma)? Angola?

A possible lead-in sentence to the main part of the lesson could be: "The reason why you were asked about these countries is that they are countries from which many people have fled for various reasons. Let's spend some time and see who these people are, why they would flee from their homes, and where have they gone to." As the teacher leads the students through a structured discussion based on the questions provided in this unit, a blackboard summary is, at the same time, built up. Allow the students time at the end to copy down the summary.

Discussion questions

  • What would you be doing if you were migrating? (Hint: think about migratory birds.)
  • What is the difference between emigration and immigration?
    • a) Who among you has relatives who have emigrated from another country?
    • b) Where did your relatives come from?
    • c) Why did they leave their country to come here?

At this point, it would be appropriate to introduce to the students the principle of push/pull factors of migration. Push factors could be explained as causes which drive people away from their home countries, while pull factors are causes which attract people to their new countries.

  • What possible reasons push people to emigrate? (Answers could include unemployment, economic hardship, disasters such as drought and famine, ecological degradation, persecution, war)
  • What possible reasons pull people to choose a new country? (Answers: employment, better economic opportunities, prospects for a better life, safety)
  • In the last lesson, you were asked "What is a refugee?" What push factors cause a person to flee his or her country to become a refugee?
  • What pull factors causes a refugee to stay in another country?
    • a) Using your dictionary, find out what the word asylum means.
    • b) What is a country of asylum?