Education International
Education International

“Messengers of hope” inspire commitments to the education of refugees

published 24 November 2016 updated 28 November 2016

With a focus on producing concrete projects and initiatives to address the education of refugees and forced migrants, those in attendance at Education International’s conference in Stockholm pledged to create long-term sustainable solutions.

“This is not a refugee crisis,” said Sweden’s Minister of Education Gustav Fridolin in reference to the situation in Europe. “This is crisis of responsibility.” The strong statement and show of leadership was a common thread throughout the two-day conference to address the education of refugee children and youth, who the President of the Sorbonne University in Paris, Georges Haddad, calls "messengers of hope."

With both days chalk-full of in-depth panel discussions and interactive workshops, the conference successfully got to the heart of the matter of integrating refugee children and youth into their host countries.

The conference, which included trade unions, civil society, government officials, teachers and students from 43 countries, introduced a plethora of ideas.

With Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen making it clear from the get-go that the conference had to produce more than talk, participants invested their energy and ideas, while many flocked to a ‘pledge booth’ to deliver commitments.

“Together, we have had the opportunity and privilege to discover the reality beyond the headlines, beyond the barrage of images presenting us with a rather two-dimensional view of some of the challenges facing refugees,” said EI President Susan Hopgood in her closing remarks. “When we look closely at the presentations made here and digest the wealth of ideas shared, we are able to identify a series of key, concrete recommendations that help pave the way for us all to proceed. With the shift from day one’s programme focused on the systemic reality of education for refugees having smoothly transitioned into the classroom, I think there is much we all agree on.”

Among the pledges made, and still being produced, EI led the way with three promises:

Number one:

Education International pledges to press for a meeting of EU prime ministers to address the education challenges for refugee children and young people.

Number two:

Education International is planning a global conference on democratic and social justice values in the United States to take place in 2018. In addition, EI assures its African colleagues that refugee education will remain high on EI’s agenda, and all of the necessary attention will be paid to African affiliates.

Number three:

A commitment to Global Citizenship Education. Education International pledges to continue to advocate its global partners, and encourage its member organisations to lead the way and share the lessons with individual members. The talk of global citizens must be implemented to actually nurture future generations of global citizens. Education International asks affiliates to inform members by dedicating space in publications and online communications to promote the actions being carried out around the world.