EI is guided by the principles of human rights, democracy, and social justice. EI recognizes that education is a human right and a public good helping to enable people at all stages in their lives to achieve their maximum potential. EI has an role to play in promoting the right to learn and right to teach for refugees and migrants both because education is fundamental to this work and because it is, by its very nature, an international issue.
The growing refugee and displaced persons’ crisis is stunning in its magnitude. According to the statistical data compiled by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), half of displaced persons are under 18 years old. Displaced children are disproportionately at risk of forced labour, trafficking, child marriage, sexual exploitation, and recruitment in armed conflicts and violence.
This displacement can last for months, years, or even a lifetime, resulting in parts of a whole generation of children denied access to the most basic levels of education. The UNHCR estimates that among the displaced youth in medium-to-longer-term settlements, only half attend primary school and a quarter attend secondary school.
For refugees and displaced persons who are newly arrived and require that basic needs be met, these needs can include non-formal education, counselling, initial language, and activities that are enjoyable and practical. In areas where refugees will be staying for longer periods of time, their rights include quality education, education provided by public authorities and available freely to all, inclusive education and equality in education and society, and qualified and high professional status for their teachers.
Displaced persons and refugees also include teachers, researchers, or education personnel who can participate in the delivery of the right to education in transit and destination countries. EI also promotes and protects the rights of these teachers, researchers, and education employees. If and when such educators are requested to participate in the delivery of education or seek employment in their transit or destination country, their rights should be fully respected.
Most refugees are found in developing countries. In the case of Syrian refugees, most of them are in neighbouring countries. Conditions are not always good and there are many weaknesses in the availability and quality of education. It is important that host countries receive adequate international assistance to ensure that all human rights of refugees, including the right to education, are respected.
EI is concerned that some countries are not fully respecting their treaty obligations to accept refugees and honour the specific provisions of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol. For migrants, there are also excellent Conventions of the ILO and the UN that are ratified by too few States.
EI policy regarding refugees and migrants is mostly shaped by various resolutions passed by the World Congresses, in addition to specific documents published by EI. The World Congresses have passed the following resolutions with regards to migrants and refugees: “Resolution on Children of Refugees and Asylum Seekers” (1998), “Resolution on Teacher Migration and Mobility” (2011), “Resolution on Migration, Professional Diversity, and Racism” (2015), and “Resolution on the right to education for displaced people, refugees, and stateless children” (2015).
Migrant Teacher Rights’ Portal
Entry into the teaching profession and related roles must be inclusive and without discrimination. Governments should recognize the skills and experiences that refugee and migrant teachers and education support personnel bring and find avenues for involving them in education and training, without discrimination or exploitation. Efforts should be made to recognize their qualifications and special status. Public authorities should also support and monitor employment practices to ensure that discrimination does not occur.
EI has supported the rights of migrants and migrant teachers with the “Resolution of Teacher Migration and Mobility” (2011), the Teacher Migration Task Force (2012-2015), the establishment and maintenance of the portal https://www.education4refugees.org, the fostering of a Virtual Global Network of Migrant Teachers and the conduction of a study in 2010 on education for refugee and asylum seeking children with case studies from Australia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The 2015 World Congress “Resolution on Migration, Professional Diversity, and Racism” stated that migrant teachers should enjoy the right to dignity at work, free from any form of discrimination. To check the Migrant Teacher Rights Portal, click here: https://www.education4refugees.org.
Refugee Education Conference
A major EI conference was held in Stockholm in November 2016 to bring together education union representatives with others to share experience on refugee education and provide ideas for progressing the implementation if the EI program on refugee education. For more information, please read the background paper and the report of the conference.
Education Unions Initiatives
Education unions have a special role to play in safeguarding the human and trade union rights of persons, whatever their status, and particularly children, but also teachers, education support personnel, researchers, students, and education unionists. EI and member organizations have an important role to play in helping to ensure that the right to education is delivered to displaced persons, that this education is inclusive, and that the roles of all education personnel amongst displaced persons are recognized, valued, and rewarded.
Key activities include:
- Analysing policies and practices of educational authorities in destination countries in providing education to these children and youth.
- Advocating policies and practices to deliver the right to education and the rights of education personnel.
- Strategizing with teachers and school-based personnel – including those from the refugee or migrant communities – to fulfil the right to education, including school-wide human rights-based approaches.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Mexico’s Trabajadores de la Solidarité interculturalism.
The World Congress, therefore, mandates the Executive Board, in cooperation with member organizations:
The Congress further notes:
The Congress resolves: