EI Africa holds Forum on Migrants and Refugees
The Forum dubbed “Promoting the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and IDPs to Quality Education” took place on 29th April from 11:00 - 14:00 GMT/ Accra Time / 13:00 - 16:00 CET/ Geneva Time.
The Forum provided a platform for EI member organisations, policy makers, partners, and education stakeholders at national, regional, and global level to dialogue about the challenges faced by migrants, refugees and internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum was organized by Education International (EI) Africa in collaboration with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Dr Koumba Boly Barry.
Research evidence, experiences, and strategies for promoting the human and education rights of migrant, refugee, asylum seekers and IDPs were shared in the forum. The Forum was attended by 102 participants, including teachers, teacher union leaders, civil society organisations, NGOs, policy makers and representatives of the UN and UN agencies.
In opening the forum, Dr Christian Addai-Poku, EI Africa Regional Committee Chairperson, said in his opening remarks that it is vitally important for governments to address the needs of migrant, refugee and IDP teachers and education support personnel. He added that all teachers, including migrants and refugees, should receive quality pre-service training, continuous professional development, and support. "Migrant, refugee and indeed, all teachers, should have decent salaries and working conditions", he stressed.
Dr Koumba Boly-Barry, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, indicated that despite the context of health, economic, social, and political crises, some countries have adopted good practices for the education of migrants and refugees. She mentioned that this Forum will feed into her upcoming report to the UN General Assembly on the right to education of migrants.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr Felipo Gonzalez, reminded the forum about the need to recognize that migrants are central, saying, “Migrant children, are first and foremost, children and need to be integrated into the host nations' education system”. He added that emigration agencies and public services were major barriers to the integration of migrant children into the school systems of host countries and something needs to be done about it.
The Minister of State for Education and Sports in Uganda Hon. Rosemary Seninde shared the success story of Uganda in integrating refugee children into their education through the ‘Education Response Plan for refugees' which absorbed over 600,000 children into the Ugandan education system.
Her Excellency, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, the African Union Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, highlighted the efforts made by the AU to address the migrants, refugees, and IDPs. There were 17 million IDPs in Africa as a result of conflicts alone. And many others because of disasters and other causes. She cited the existing AU protocols including the Migration Framework for Africa and the Continental Teacher Mobility Protocol.