When “back to school” isn’t for everyone

September is traditionally back-to-school month. During these weeks, we have seen the shops fill up with fathers and mothers with their daughters and sons, who enthusiastically remind them of the list of materials they need to acquire before the start of the new school year. However, This picture is not the same everywhere or equally for all studentsas is the case with refugee children.

Barriers to access to education

The reasons for this condition are various:

  • Low family income can be a major obstacle for refugees to send their children to schooland also so that they themselves can have access to education.
  • Sometimes directly there is no school Where shall we go or it is too farforcing them to walk long distances.
  • Other times, however, families they cannot afford the cost of school supplies or they simply cannot afford this expense along with other basic needs, such as food or housing rent.

“The violence that I have suffered so much is, in my opinion, the result of ignorance. I am convinced that access to education will help break the cycle of violence in Darfur.”. With these words, 28-year-old Assania, a school teacher in the Kouchaguine-Moura refugee camp, near Chad’s border with Sudan, expresses how important education is to her in the fight against conflict and extremism. She herself found refuge in this camp, along with her husband and son, after fleeing the violence just over two years ago.

Assaniah is lucky because the Chadian government, UNHCR and its partners ensure access to education of refugee boys and girls from their arrival in the camps to their full inclusion in the national education system. However, not all refugee children can say the same.

Refugee youth and education: the gap is huge

Thus, as the latest UNHCR report on education points out, although 68% of refugee children manage to attend primary school in host countries, this percentage drops to 37% when we talk about secondary school and the gap continues to widen. while we get closer to higher education, which only 6% of them manage to reach. The paper, titled Educational Inclusion: A Campaign for Refugee Education, was presented in mid-September at the Transforming Education Summit, where world leaders discussed the future of learning at the UN General Assembly.

According to UNHCR data, Refugee girls and boys have five times less access to education than their non-refugee peers. That is why UNHCR and its partners put “Goal 15/30”: to achieve 15% of refugees enrolled in higher education by 2030. The goal is ambitious but achievable.

Evidence of this is the good results of programs such as DAFI (German Albert Einstein Refugee Academic Initiative), which has enabled access to higher education for more than 21,000 young refugees since 1992.

The engagement of Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamiltonwhich supports greater equality, fairness and diversity in education as well as in motor sports, also became a spokesperson for this UNHCR educational report and assured he was “proud” to lend his voice to the campaign so that refugee children and young people are included in national education systems and not left behind.

And “it’s not just about creating opportunities for young people, helping them find their way and build their own future. It is also about the consequences that this has: greater diversity in leadership and influence, in the world of work, in sport, in culture and in politics“, Add. That’s what priority is for provide inclusive education not only in all humanitarian emergencies, but also in those where forced displacement continues over time.

The fruits of inclusive education

But what does “inclusive education” mean? This term commits to include, on an equal footing with the non-refugee population, refugee students in the education systems of their host communities and thus be able to exercise their right of access to quality education.

Inclusive education must guarantee the means to carry it out with quality through decent infrastructure, such as equipped classrooms and adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, teachers, textbooks, school supplies, the possibility of obtaining certificates and achieving the elimination of the digital divide affecting refugees.

As Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, states, “Education is an investment in development, human rights and peace. In the case of refugees, it is an investment in the people who will rebuild their home countries when they can return home safely.”.

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