On 20 June, World Refugee Day, Education International urges governments to protect refugees’ human rights, including the right to education, and to enable the teaching profession to develop and deliver effective education programmes aimed at a swift integration of refugees in their host countries.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million people were “forcibly displaced” in 2015, including 21.3 million refugees and 3.2 million asylum seekers. An estimated 12.4 million people were displaced due to conflict or persecution, while the number of asylum applications by unaccompanied minors tripled in one year reaching a record of 98,400. Education International calls upon all governments to uphold a rights-based approach to migrants and refugees, as provided for in the normative framework of the UN Migrant Workers Convention, the International Labour Organisation’s Conventions on Migrant Workers (C97 and C143) and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. On World Refugee Day, EI draws particular attention to the plight of refugee children who constitute the largest group of forcibly displaced people around the world. They are at risk of becoming victims of forced labour, child marriage, sexual exploitation, recruitment by armed militia and other violations of rights as laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (September 1990). Education International calls upon all governments, particularly those in countries hosting refugees, to make every possible effort to prevent exploitation of refugee children, develop education programmes, including language courses, citizenship education, vocational training and trauma counselling, and provide access to education services delivered by the national school systems. Education International will host an international conference on education for refugee children on 21-22 November 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference, which will bring together education unions, teachers and other experts from countries in Europe and the Middle East with a high influx of refugee children, will address both the political and professional challenges to be met to guarantee their right to quality education, as proclaimed by the UN in September 2015 through the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 4.