UNHCR – Lewis Hamilton supports UNHCR’s campaign to promote education for refugees

Marta Gambolipai, a 6-year-old girl from South Sudan, sings a song with her preschool classmates in Makpandu refugee settlement, South Sudan. © UNHCR/Elizabeth Marie Stewart

NEW YORK, United States of America – A new report by UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, reveals that student refugees urgently need more international support. In this context, the seven-time world champion in Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton, supports all the demands made for refugee children and youth to have access to comprehensive and quality education.

The report, titled “Educational Inclusion: A Refugee Education Campaign,” and which contains data collected from more than 40 countries, sheds light on the gap that exists between refugees and their non-refugee peers when it comes to education.

The average primary school enrollment ratio in the 2020-2021 academic year remained relatively stable at 68%. Enrollment, however, plummets to 37% in secondary education, which has historically been difficult for refugees to access.

In higher education, however, the situation is improving. Although the number of refugees is 6%, the trend continues to rise (it started from only 1% a few years ago), which fills with optimism the UN Refugee Agency, which estimates that it is possible to reach the goal of 15% by 2030 ..

UNHCR’s annual report on education was released shortly before world leaders prepare to discuss the future of learning at the Transforming Education Summit, which takes place at the UN General Assembly from 16-19 September.

Hamilton, who fights for equality, justice and diversity in education and motorsport, said he was proud to lend his voice to the campaign so that refugee children and young people are not pushed out, but included in national education systems.

“Education not only broadens people’s horizons and provides them with opportunities they would not otherwise dream of. It also counteracts the harmful effects of systemic injustice,” he comments in the report’s epilogue.

“And it’s not just about creating better life opportunities for young people and helping them find purpose in life and build their own futures. It’s about the chain reactions it causes: greater diversity in leadership and influence, in the world of work, in sport, in culture and politics.”

Echoing its title (“Educational Inclusion”), the report shows young refugees from Sudan, Ukraine, Kenya and Myanmar who have taken advantage of various educational opportunities despite forced displacement and the challenges of adjusting to new or changed circumstances.

Addressing the report, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi noted that many countries have made recent progress in including refugee students in national education systems.

“We now need to accompany these policies with significant funding and sustain them over time, in addition to demonstrating their benefits,” Grandy said.

“The phrase ‘Talent is universal; opportunities does not accurately describe the reality for millions of refugee children and youth. We need to bridge the huge gap between talent and opportunity.”

UNHCR urges the inclusion of refugees in national education systems from the outset of humanitarian emergencies, in protracted displacement situations and in the development of long-term plans. This, among other things, requires more support for training and covering the salaries of teaching staff, building new infrastructure, creating adequate and relevant teaching materials, providing transport to and from schools, facilitating access to certificates and examinations, as well and how to bridge the digital divide affecting refugees.

“An investment in education is an investment in development, human rights and peace,” Grandi said. “It’s time to invest in the human future, that is, in budding builders, creators and peacemakers.”

He further stated that “[en] In the case of refugees, it is about investing in those who will rebuild their countries of origin when they can return home safely.

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UNHCR’s Education Report 2022 is titled Educational Inclusion: A Campaign to Educate Refugees and contains the stories of some of the more than 10 million school-age refugees under UNHCR’s mandate. It also sheds light on the aspirations of refugee youth who wish to continue their education beyond secondary school, and highlights the hopes and ambitions of teachers in refugee and host communities.

The refugee and population figures are obtained from UNHCR country operations and are for the 2020-2021 school year. On the other hand, the report refers to the latest data on enrollment and out-of-school children and youth , which were obtained from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

The release of this UNHCR report coincides with the Education Transformation Summit, which was convened by the UN Secretary-General and will be held in conjunction with the 77th session of the General Assembly. The goal of the summit is to mobilize action, ambition, solidarity and solutions to transform education by 2030.

UNHCR also estimated that targeting investment to the countries that took in the most refugees would have significant benefits. The annual cost for all refugee students to access education in low-, lower-middle-, and upper-middle-income host countries is estimated at $4.85 billion (USD) or a total of $63.0 billion (USD ). for a period of 13 years (ie from the first year of primary education to the last year of secondary education). Specifically, low- and lower-middle-income countries that have hosted half of school-age refugees will need 20% of the estimated total. In other words, one fifth of the total cost will cover more than 50% of school-age refugee children.

  • Click here to download the report.
  • Click here for graphics, images, social media content, translations and other materials.
  • For more information about UNHCR’s work in education, please contact Becky Telford ([email protected]).

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