Migrant and refugee children face many roadblocks to receiving an education, according to a UN report published Tuesday.
In the Global Education Monitoring Report 2018, “Migration, displacement
and education: Building Bridges Not Walls,” the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted national education systems are not always equipped to accommodate incoming migrant and refugee students, according to UN News. This puts over 50 million children at risk of never reaching their full potential and lifting up their communities.
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Makeshift schools, many of which aren’t certified, language barriers, and limited resources prevent students from excelling in the classroom.
While governments are aware of these issues, they don’t always kick solutions into action, the UN agency explained in a statement.
“The right of these children to quality education, even if increasingly recognized on paper, is challenged daily in classrooms and schoolyards and denied outright by a few governments,” UNESCO said.
Since 2016, refugees have missed 1.5 billion days of school, according to UNESCO.
Young girls are especially vulnerable when they lose opportunities to learn, Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, senior advocate for women and girls at Refugee International, explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation in August.
"Less education increases vulnerabilities to forced marriage, exploitation, and even trafficking in refugee contexts," she said.
Migrant and refugee children in the 🌏today could fill half a million classrooms. They shouldn’t have to leave their right to education behind when they move 📚— UNA-Australia (@UNAA_National) November 21, 2018
Read the new @UNESCO#GEM Report: https://t.co/jE8cuLaMlW#EducationOnTheMovepic.twitter.com/LW3oDVGskg
UNESCO also delivered promising news in the report. Some of the countries with the biggest refugee populations are showing progress in including refugee children in education systems.
Low-income countries like Chad, Ethiopia, and Uganda are leading the way for refugee education, as well as wealthier nations such as Canada and Ireland. But low- and middle-income countries still host 90% of the world’s refugees and don’t have the funds to adequately support them.
The report offers suggestions for making greater progress.
It calls on donors to increase their refugee education funding and commit to long-term support and pushed for a better understanding of refugee and migrants’ needs. UNESCO also recommends that countries make an effort to represent migration and displacement narratives in school curriculums to fight discrimination. Teachers need to be prepared to tackle diversity and difficulties refugees and migrant students face, as well.
“Everyone loses when the education of migrants and refugees is ignored. Education is the key to inclusion and cohesion,” Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, said.