Migration and displacement have positive and negative influences on education systems. At the same time, education can help societies manage the challenges and opportunities presented by migration and displacement. UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report will convene a high-level panel to present key findings and recommendations from its 2019 edition, Migration, Displacement and Education: Building Bridges, Not Walls. High-level representatives from key education stakeholders will discuss the responsibilities of the international community, governments and local actors to build inclusive education systems in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Quality Education – and the commitment to leave no one behind.
Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls
Building inclusive education systems
- It needs to be recognised that refugees may be in host countries for a long time, maybe a generation.
- Education is needed in the transition process of migrants and refugees.
- Schemes for community sponsorship of refugee support are successful and need to be scaled up.
- Host governments must be empowered to provide education services to migrants.
- Educational support is needed for both refugee populations and the host community.
The latest UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report provides plenty of food for new thought about the importance of effective education systems to help long term integration of migrants and refugees. Education can help societies manage the challenges and opportunities presented by migration and needs to be looked at in an integrated way to address what is a critical gap. Every child without an education is lost capital. Education is viewed as a top priority by refugee families. They currently face an interrupted education, which needs to be ensured in the transition process. It is important that education should no longer be treated as the exception. It needs to be recognised that refugees may be in host countries for a long time, maybe a generation. Most do not live in refugee camps but in communities. It is important to focus on trying to empower the host governments to provide education services. For example, in Turkey, support is given to the government to help refugees integrate into society. A crucial debate centres on who picks up the bill. It is difficult to integrate the private sector into funding core services. They can provide complementary aid but privatisation is not the solution. A pilot action is under way with the Bill Gates Foundation to set up and fund health centres. This could free up capital for other investments. Local corporations can also be leveraged to support initiatives for motives of Corporate Social Responsibility. If countries improve tax collection, a good revenue basis could be found to finance this education process. Countries also need to live up to their pledges as many fail to deliver the funding they publicly promise. Refugees are often found in the countries which are least able to provide services, such as Uganda as it faces an influx of Sudanese. A new approach is needed to support such countries with material aid for both refugee populations and the host community. Multi-year resilience plans are already being developed which go beyond the short-term emergency cycle. Community sponsorship of refugee support is on the increase and proving successful in Canada and Britain. Such schemes need to be scaled up. Teachers and planners must respond to challenges of a diverse classroom. The teaching of migrants and refugees should be included in national education systems. Having enough suitably qualified teachers for refugee communities is a key issue. The UNESCO report stresses that migrants have a right to education. For refugees this is guaranteed but definitions of migrants are very fluid. Education should be for everyone without discrimination on grounds of religion or ethnicity. The key findings and recommendations in the 2019 edition of Migration, Displacement and Education: Building Bridges, Not Walls will be discussed by a high-level panel where representatives from key education stakeholders will discuss the responsibilities of the international community, governments and local actors to build inclusive education systems in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Quality Education – and the commitment to leave no one behind.
The need for the education of refugees and migrants to start as soon as they arrive in the host country is not sufficiently recognised. They are generally displaced for a long time and education eases their integration.