by Rozina Zazai

Israr Ullah

© UNHCR/Asif Shahzad

Jigsaw Consult is a social enterprise working in the international development and humanitarian sectors. In September 2018, Jigsaw Consult along with Refugee Support Network (a U.K. based education charity) and UNHCR started a research project called “Voices of Refugee Youth: The Impact of Post-primary Education in Emergencies” in Pakistan and Rwanda. The aim of this project is to find out the impact of post-primary (i.e. Secondary and higher) education on refugee youth. The results of this research study will be shared with UNHCR and other organiSations that want to work for the development of secondary and higher education of refugees.

The Jigsaw team conducted a week of training in both countries and built a team of refugee youth called as Youth Researchers. The youth researchers do the data collection and send back the results to the Jigsaw team for further analysis. And luckily, I am part of Youth Researcher team in Pakistan.

Data collection

Data collection is a process of gathering information in a systematic way that allows one to answer the research questions. In this research study, all the youth researchers were trained about how to collect data through different techniques. The researchers went to Afghan private and Pakistani public schools to collect data from Afghan refugees. Data collection was done by following methods:

  • One to one surveys: In this method, the researcher would separately ask questions to each of the participants from a prepared questionnaire.
  • In-depth interviews: This method was designed to ask some open-ended questions from secondary school students and higher secondary females to get to know more about them and their experiences of studying as a refugee.
  • Focus Group Discussions (FGD): This is a type of discussion with a small group of people to explore a topic, generate ideas or to ask for different opinions about something. This method was also used in our data collection and this method was conducted with the higher education males. Two of the youth researchers, one acting as a facilitator who would ask questions from the participants and the other acting as a co-facilitator who would write down all the details about the participants and their answers.

What I learned during data collection

Being a part of this research study, I have learned a lot of things. From how to make a questionnaire to how to conduct surveys, interviews, FGDs, I have developed some really good research skills. Some of them are:

Group work

Group work is one of the most important things that I have learnt and applied while doing data collection. We were supposed to go to different schools and all of the researchers have participants from alternate schools so by going in a group or in pair we were able to help each other if we encountered any issue. For example if there was a problem in a survey question, or the participant was not able to understand the concept, we were always there to help one another. Also, as there are multiple languages in Afghanistan, sometimes there would be language issues between the researcher and the participant, so we would switch participants for the convenience of both parties and for survey to run smoothly. Furthermore, working in a group was also more economical in terms of time.

Time management

Better use of time allows one to achieve more in less time. Some of the schools had different working hours so planning beforehand and managing time according to the specific school helped in working more efficiently.

Informing the authority beforehand

It is also one of the crucial things that I have learnt, because by being in contact with the authority we would get a better idea about their concerns, their terms and conditions and also about their schedule and it also saved us a lot of time.


There is a huge difference between learning and practically doing things. So, by being a part of data collection phase, I was able to practice ways of data collection in reality that I learnt about in the training session.