Quality public education for refugees needed more than ever

published 20 June 2017 updated 11 January 2022

With the number of forcibly displaced people at its highest in history, World Refugee Day reveals the urgent need for sustainable investment in public education to see that millions of children can access quality learning.

Major conflicts raging around the world have driven 65.6 million from their homes, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its latest report for 2016. Of them, 22.5 million were refugees, half of whom were children.

“On this day it is imperative that we take pause to acknowledge the harsh reality facing millions of people around the world,” said Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, stressing that the education of refugees requires strong, concerted, consistent and enduring action by governments. “Although we realise that education is not the only solution to this continuing humanitarian crisis, there is no solution without education.”

This is why EI and its affiliates  are encouraging governments to ensure access to  quality education for all refugee children and to help  teachers and education support workers  to create quality learning environments.

In Europe, EI has called for  the improvement of the regulatory and educational environments for refugees, many of whom fled the Middle East and North Africa.

Education International will continue to advocate for

• the achievement of the right to education for all forcibly displaced children, youth and adults

• measures enabling  refugee teachers, academics, researchers and education support personnel to resume their profession in their host countries

• the establishment of education targets  enhancing   open, democratic, multicultural and inclusive societies

As part of EI’s long-term work the organisation and its affiliates have supported professional development for teachers as well as local initiatives in nine European countries. The projects in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK have ranged from extra-curricular activities for refugee children, to community engagement, the development of pedagogical materials and certifying refugee welcome schools.

In addition to the hands-on programmes, five research cases were launched in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Poland and Germany. Collectively, the studies aim to identify human rights gaps in legislation and practices, share potential good practices, highlight challenges in the classroom, make recommendations for education unions to advocate at the local, national, and European level, and seek to promote advocacy with the ILO, OECD, and European Union.