The report states that the number of refugee and migrant school-age children has increased by 26% since 2000, and observes that in some countries refugees are given limited to no access to education.
Report recommendations focus on protecting the right to education of migrants and displaced people, and including migrants and displaced people in the national education system.
20 November 2018: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published the 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, which assesses progress towards SDG 4 (quality education) and its ten targets, as well as other SDG-related education targets. The 2019 report focuses on countries’ achievements and shortcomings in fulfilling refugee and migrant children’s right to benefit from quality education.
The report titled, ‘Migration, displacement and education: Building brides, not walls,’ states that the number of refugee and migrant school-age children has increased by 26% since 2000. Since 2016, refugees have missed 1.5 billion days of school. Refugees in Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico are given limited to no access to education. Other refugees, including Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Burundian refugees in Tanzania, Karen refugees in Thailand and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, only receive education in separate, community-based, private or informal schools. Lebanon and Jordan, which host the largest number of refugees per capita, lack the resources to build more schools, and consequently have established separate morning and afternoon shifts for refugee and citizen children, which limits interactions between these groups.
In contrast, other countries have included refugees in their national education systems. Canada and Ireland are among the leaders in implementing inclusive education policies for immigrants. Canada has enshrined multiculturalism in its constitution and begins teaching children about migration in second grade. Despite its financial crisis, Ireland funded an intercultural education strategy. The report also recognizes investments made by Iran and Rwanda to ensure that citizen and refugee children attend the same schools. Uganda also includes refugees in its national education system. Seven other countries in East Africa and Turkey have committed to include all refugees in their national education system by 2020.
Immigrants can be “nominally included by practically excluded” by attending under-resourced schools or being placed on slower tracks.
Another concern highlighted in the report is the absence of trained teachers, especially to meet the needs of displaced learnings. The report finds that Turkey would need 80,000 new teachers, Germany would need 42,000 new teachers and Uganda would need 7,000 new teachers to provide quality education to all refugees. In Lebanon, only 55% of teachers and staff received specialized training to support displaced learners.
The report cautions that a country’s job is not done once immigrants are in school because they can be excluded in other ways. Immigrants can be “nominally included but practically excluded” by attending under-resourced schools in difficult neighborhoods or being kept too long in preparatory classes or placed in slower school tracks, which then compromises subsequent opportunities. In the EU, twice as many foreign-born children left school early in 2017 compared to native children.
On SDG 4, the report states that the international community “is honing its SDG 4 monitoring tools” and makes recommendations for new methods, such as to: synthesize primary and secondary education completion rates (SDG target 4.1) using estimates from multiple sources; and ensure that the global indicator for target 4.3 on technical, vocation, tertiary and adult education captures all adult education opportunities, including formal and non-formal and work or non-work related. The report provides similar examples and recommendation on how to reassess estimates and improve analysis of the other SDG 4 targets.
Among its recommendations, the report focuses on protecting the right to education for migrants and displaced people and including migrants and displaced people in the national education system. The report recommends: understanding and planning to meet the education needs of migrants and displaced people; representing migration and displacement histories accurately in education to challenge prejudices; preparing teachers of refugees and migrants to address hardship and diversity; supporting education needs of migrants and displaced people in humanitarian and development aid; and harnessing the potential of migrants and displaced people.
UNESCO released the report at an event in Berlin, Germany. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said, “Everyone loses when the education of migrants and refugees is ignored.” She stressed education as the key to inclusion and cohesion and said increased classroom diversity can enhance respect for diversity and provide an opportunity to learn from others. Azoulay concluded that education “is the best way to make communities stronger and more resilient.”
The GEM Report, formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, is an editorially independent, evidence-based annual report published by UNESCO, with a mandate to monitor progress towards the education targets in the SDGs. [UNESCO press release] [Publication: Global Education Monitoring Report: Migration, displacement & education: Building bridges, not walls]