EI calls for respect of migrants and refugees’ rights

published 17 December 2015 updated 6 January 2016

To mark International Migrants’ Day, Education International is reminding governments and the international community of their duty to ensure that the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons are respected and guaranteed.

With only one in two refugee children in primary education, education and migration issues are deeply entangled. In the context of the present migration crisis, EI has issued a statement on International Migrants’ Day, encouraging policymakers to guarantee migrants’ rights, both in policy and in practice.

The Education International (EI) statement underlines this link between education and migrants’ rights, asking governments to “recognise the human rights and contributions of migrants, migrant and refugee teachers and education support personnel to all forms of development.” The organisation is also calling for decent work for all workers and equal treatment of migrant teachers, refugee teachers and education support personnel, including equal working conditions and access to social protection, and demands policy makers to take concrete and immediate measures to ensure free quality public education to all migrant and refugee children.

International work and policy on migration

The declaration states that “even in countries that, on paper, respect human rights, including trade union rights, migrants are often concentrated in precarious work. The qualifications of migrant and refugee teachers and other educators are often not recognised, thus resulting in serious ‘brain waste’, personal and family hardship.”

Having to adapt to a new language and adjust after possibly years outside of school are some other issues affecting children and their families fleeing their homes in places like Syria and Iraq, to name only two.

Over the years, EI and its member organisations have been defending and promoting the rights of migrant and refugee teachers, education support personnel and children. Some of these efforts are highlighted on the migrant teachers’ portal.

A resolution on education and displaced people, passed during the EI World Congress in July, vowed to continue the organisation's work in supporting member organisations’ efforts to educate refugee children, pressure governments to provide appropriate financial resources, and to work closely with its partner, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The EI Executive Board also debated during its 47th meeting, held from 16-19 November in Brussels, Belgium, a discussion paper on 'Realising the right to education of refugees and migrant children and their families'.