Quality public education for refugees needed more than ever
With the number of forcibly displaced people at its highest in history, World Refugee Day reveals the urgent need for sustainable investment in education to see that millions of children can access quality learning.
Major conflicts raging around the world have driven 65.6 million from their homes, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its latest report for 2016. Of them, 22.5 million were refugees, the highest since the Second World War, and of whom half were children.
“On this day it is imperative that we take pause to acknowledge the harsh reality facing millions of people around the world,” said Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, stressing that the education of refugees requires strong, concerted, consistent and enduring action by governments. “Although we realise that education is not the only solution to this continuing humanitarian crisis, there is no solution without education.”
This is why EI and its affiliates have taken a leading role aimed at encouraging governments to provide children with quality education and by developing programs to ensure that teachers and education support workers have the tools needed to create quality learning environments.
In Europe, EI has advocated national authorities to improve the regulatory and educational environment for refugees, many of whom fled the Middle East and North Africa. A part of this advocacy are efforts made to see that the right to education applies equally to all without discrimination in response to the challenge of identifying refugees from migrants and immigrants.
Actions included in the advocacy with its union affiliates, EI continues to:
• Advocate for the right to education for all forcibly displaced children, youth and adults
• Promote the right to teach of refugee teachers, academics, researchers and education support personnel
• Promote education that respects diversity for open, democratic, multicultural and inclusive societies
As part of EI’s long-term work the organisation and its affiliates have supported professional development for teachers as well as local initiatives in nine European countries. The projects in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK have ranged from extra-curricular activities for refugee children, to community engagement, the development of pedagogical materials and certifying refugee welcome schools.
In addition to the hands on programs, five research cases were launched in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Poland and Germany. Collectively, the studies aim to identify human rights gaps in legislation and practices, share potential good practices, highlight challenges in the classroom, make recommendations for education unions to advocate at the local, national, and European level, and seek to promote advocacy with the ILO, OECD, and European Union.