Refugee children’s education front and centre at global migration forum

published 16 October 2015 updated 20 October 2015

Education International joined other Global Unions in Turkey for the 2015 Global Forum on Migration and Development to demand human, labour and education rights for migrants.

Education International (EI) Senior Coordinator, Dennis Sinyolo, speaking at the Civil Society forum of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), held from 12 – 16 October, reminded the delegates in Istanbul, Turkey about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN instruments which guarantee human rights for all people, including migrants. He urged the participants to raise awareness about the new SDGs and to ensure that governments deliver on their commitments to protect the rights of migrants and refugees.

“Governments should integrate the new SDGs and global commitments on human development, shared prosperity and migration into national policies, legislation and programmes and ensure their full implementation,” he said. He went on to urge governments to ratify and ensure implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions on migration.

Sinyolo urged governments to particularly address the needs of migrant children, youth and women, arguing that “all children, regardless of their citizenship or migratory status, have the right to quality public education”. Sinyolo went on to urge European and other Governments to ensure that all migrant children and refugees have access to education and other essential services. He also shared ongoing efforts by EI and its member organisations to address the needs of migrant teachers, other educators and refugees.

In their statement to the GFMD, the Global Unions raised serious concern about the challenges faced by migrant workers and refugees, including unfair recruitment practices, exploitation, xenophobia and discrimination. The Global Unions called on governments attending the GFMD to adopt a rights-based and humane approach to dealing with migrants and refugees. They urged governments to promote a migration agenda that ensures decent work and social protection for all workers and promotes cooperation and global governance on migration issues that emphasizes human and labour rights and inclusive development.

The GFMD was preceded by two major events, a preparatory meeting organised by the Women and Global Migration Working Group (WGMWG) and the People’s Global Action (PGA). The WGMWG informed the participants about the group’s work, stressing that women are bearers of rights, not simply ‘agents of development’. The meeting also discussed issues related to labour mobility, labour rights and decent work, and agreed on a number of recommendations for the GFMD.

Education International Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator, Pathma Krishnan, urged the WGMWG to address issues related to counselling for war torn and natural disaster areas for women, children and men and to urge governments to provide quality education for all children.

The PGA and Civil Society forum paid special tribute to the refugees who have lost their lives trying to reach safety in Europe and other countries across the world and to the union leaders who were killed or maimed during a bomb attack in Ankara on the 10 October.  The victims included members of EI affiliate, EGITIM-SEN.

Download the report here.