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UNESCO report: Education, displacement and migration have an impact on each other

Presentation of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin

Presentation of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

21.11.2018 - Article

On 20 November, UNESCO’s annual Global Education Monitoring Report was presented to the world in Germany for the first time.

This year’s report focuses on the links between migration, displacement and education. It states that the right to quality education of the children of refugees as well as migrants is still not always adequately guaranteed in many countries around the world. Some governments deny them this right completely .

Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office stressed the importance of transnational cooperation: “It’s essential that children and young people around the world have access to education. In the case of refugees and migrants, that can only be achieved through international cooperation.”

Displacement: Many countries exclude refugees from their education systems

Andreas Görgen, Head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office, delivering a speech at the presentation of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report
Andreas Görgen, Head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office, at the presentation of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report© Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

The report shows that more than half of the world’s refugees are under 18 years of age. Yet many countries exclude these children and young people from their national education systems. Children who have applied for asylum and live in camps in countries such as Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia or Mexico have, at best, limited access to education. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Burundian refugees in Tanzania, Karen refugees in Thailand and many Afghan refugees in Pakistan attend separate, and in some cases, non-recognised schools. Some of these host countries do not even offer refugees language courses, which are absolutely essential if they are to integrate into society and have good prospects on the labour market. In many cases, refugees have access to education but are prevented from learning alongside their peers from the host country.

However, the authors of the Global Education Monitoring Report also describe the progress made: eight out of the ten countries with the most refugees have made considerable progress in integrating them into their national education systems, including low income countries such as Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Migration: Education and migration have an impact on each other

Education can be a key factor in the decision to migrate. Throughout the world, it can be said that the higher the level of education, the more likely it is statistically that an individual will become a migrant.

Migration can have a positive impact on education. For example, in the Philippines, between 1.5 and 3 million children have at least one parent abroad. The impact of money transfers from abroad can be crucial to the education of these children.

However, children and young people from an immigrant background are still at a disadvantage: migrants often end their education prematurely in the destination countries. In 2017, for example, 10 percent of home-born and 19 percent of foreign-born young people between 18 and 24 years of age dropped out of school early in the European Union. The likelihood that they gain basic knowledge of reading, mathematics and science is 32 percent lower than among the native population.

Measures taken by policymakers can make it easier for migrants to access education and are therefore particularly important. Germany compares favourably to other countries: the report praises Germany for its wide range of integration measures but pinpoints the need for improvements in terms of equal opportunities in the German education system.

Full version of the Global Education Monitoring Report in English

Abridged version of the report in German  PDF / 4 MB


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