This report calls on governments to address the education needs of migrant and displaced populations, and those of their children, with the same attention they give to host populations.
CREDIT: Achilleas Zavillis/UNHCR. Caption CREDIT: 262 CHAPTER 20 | Conclusions and recommendations Displaced Afghan boys form a ‘daisy chain’ to attend special English classes at the Oinofyta centre, Greece, in 2016.
PROTECT THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION OF MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE
The principle of non-discrimination in education is recognized in international conventions. Discriminatory barriers, such as birth certificate requirements, should be explicitly prohibited in national law. Existing regulations should have no loopholes or grey areas left open to interpretation by individual local or school-level officers. Governments must protect migrants’ and refugees’ right to education irrespective of identification documents or residence status and apply laws without exception.
Respecting the right to education must go beyond legislation and administrative process. National authorities should mount awareness-raising campaigns to inform migrant and displaced families of their rights and of school registration processes. Planning authorities should ensure that public schools are within reach of informal settlements and slums and that they are not neglected in urban regeneration plans.
INCLUDE MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE IN THE NATIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEM
Some education systems treat immigrants and refugees as temporary or transient populations, different from natives. This is wrong; it impedes their academic progress, socialization and future opportunities, and undermines progress towards diverse, cohesive societies. Public policy must include them in all levels of national education.
Inclusion of immigrants has several dimensions. While a new language of instruction necessitates preparatory classes, students should be separated as little as possible from their native peers. Education systems should not channel students with lower achievement, among whom immigrants are over-represented, into different tracks. Given the geographical concentration of immigrant students in many countries, education planners should use methods such as transport subsidies and random school assignment to ensure residential segregation does not result in education segregation.
Governments need to make sure that refugees’ education is interrupted as little as possible. While exceptional circumstances – e.g. physical isolation of refugee communities or host system capacity constraints – may prevent full inclusion, governments need to minimize time spent in schools not following the national curriculum or not progressing towards recognized certificates, as such time compromises education trajectories.
UNDERSTAND AND PLAN FOR THE EDUCATION NEEDS OF MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE
Countries with large immigrant and refugee inflows need to capture data on these populations in management information systems to plan and budget accordingly. Providing school places or work opportunities for migrants and refugees is only the first step to inclusion.
School environments have to adapt to and support students’ needs. Those transitioning to a new language of instruction need bridging programmes with qualified teachers. Those whose education was interrupted will benefit from accelerated education programmes enabling them to catch up and re-enter school at the appropriate level. Refugee inclusion in education will be more likely to succeed if it extends to social protection programmes to allow refugees to benefit, for instance, from conditional cash transfers that cover hidden school costs. In the case of internal migrants, notably children of nomads or seasonal workers, governments should consider flexible school calendars, education tracking systems and curricula relevant to their livelihoods.
Adults need support to develop their competences through technical and vocational education and training and to overcome constraints, such as low-skill occupations or high training costs, that discourage their investment in skills. They need financial education programmes so they can manage their economic circumstances, make the most of remittances and avoid fraud or financial exploitation. Non-formal education programmes, which can be offered at the local government level, can supplement efforts to strengthen social cohesion.
REPRESENT MIGRATION AND DISPLACEMENT HISTORIES IN EDUCATION ACCURATELY TO CHALLENGE PREJUDICES
Building inclusive societies and helping people live together requires more than tolerance. Governments must review education content and delivery, adapting curricula and rethinking textbooks to reflect history and current diversity. Education content needs to bring to the fore migration’s contribution to wealth and prosperity. It also needs to recognize the causes of tension and conflict, as well as the legacy of migrations that displaced or marginalized populations. Pedagogical approaches should promote openness to multiple perspectives, foster the values of living together, and appreciate the benefits of diversity. They should challenge prejudices and develop critical thinking skills so learners can overcome uncertainties in interacting with other cultures and resist negative media portrayals of immigrants and refugees. Governments need to draw from the positive experiences of intercultural education.
PREPARE TEACHERS OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES TO ADDRESS DIVERSITY AND HARDSHIP
Teachers need support to become agents of change in school environments increasingly shaped by migration and displacement. Current teacher education programmes addressing migration tend to be ad hoc and not part of the main curricula. Governments need to invest in initial and ongoing teacher education that builds core competences and ability to manage diverse, multilingual and multicultural contexts, which also affect native students. Raise awareness of all teachers about migration and displacement, not just those who teach diverse classrooms. Aspiring and practising teachers and school leaders should be given the tools to confront stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination in the classroom, the schoolyard and the community, and to strengthen immigrant and refugee students’ self-esteem and sense of belonging.
Teachers in displacement contexts also need to be sensitive to the particular difficulties displaced students and parents face, and reach out to their communities. While teachers are not counsellors, they can be trained to recognize stress and trauma and refer those in need to specialists. If there are no specialists, teachers should be prepared to serve as some families’ only access to such services. Teachers of refugees and displaced teachers suffer additional stress themselves. Management policies need to recognize and relieve the extreme hardships under which some teachers work, regulate and ensure equality among types of teaching professionals to maintain morale, and invest in professional development.
HARNESS THE POTENTIAL OF MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE
Migrants and refugees possess skills that can help transform not only their and their families’ lives but also both host and home economies and societies, whether they return or support from a distance. Using this potential requires simpler, cheaper and more transparent and flexible mechanisms to recognize academic qualifications and professional skills (including those of teachers) and to account for prior learning that was not validated or certified.
Countries need to follow up on Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration commitments regarding mutual qualification recognition, and to conclude negotiations under the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications so it can be adopted in 2019. Assessment agencies, licensing bodies and academic institutions should harmonize requirements and procedures at the bilateral, regional and global levels, working with governments and regional and international organizations. Common degree standards, quality assurance mechanisms and academic exchange programmes can support qualification recognition.
SUPPORT EDUCATION NEEDS OF MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED PEOPLE IN HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT AID
While two-thirds of international migrants are destined for high income countries, 9 out of 10 refugees are hosted by low and middle income countries, which require support from international partners. Meeting needs would require a tenfold increase in the share of education in humanitarian aid. A more sustainable solution is for the international community to fulfil the Global Compact on Refugees and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework commitment to link humanitarian and development aid from the early stages of a crisis, supporting inclusive education delivery for refugee and host populations. Education should be included in response design, especially as regards early childhood education and care. It should also be part of a holistic package of solutions involving other sectors, e.g. shelter, nutrition, water, sanitation and social protection. Donors need to reflect these reforms in their humanitarian interventions. Using the momentum of the Education Cannot Wait fund, they need to develop need-assessment capacity and join up planning to bridge the humanitarian-development divide and catalyse predictable multiyear funding.