UNESCO calls for protecting rights of migrants, displaced persons to education

General

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called for understanding and planning for the education needs of migrants and displaced people, as well as for protecting their right to education and including them in the national education system.

In its new 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report published Tuesday, UNESCO highlights countries' achievements and shortcomings in ensuring the right of migrant and refugee children to benefit from quality education, a right that serves the interests of both learners and the communities they live in. It shows that extent of teacher migration to the Gulf States from Arab countries, but cautions that these same teachers have been left vulnerable by a change in education policy to prioritize English-speaking teachers.

Teachers are people, not processes, said Director of the GEM Report Manos Antoninis, adding: Stricter regulations should be in place to protect teachers from fast turnarounds in recruitment policy. They must be hired in the schools and on the conditions promised.

According to the report, highly skilled migrants also leave the region, often for scholarships. Students from Saudi Arabia are among the five largest international student groups in the United States and Saudi Arabia established the King Abdullah Scholarship Program in 2005 to fund overseas degrees. Yet reports from 2016 suggest there will be budget cuts within the program and restrictions on academic eligibility requirements, fields of study and eligible universities that may change these flows.

The report recommends representing migration and displacement histories in education accurately to challenge prejudices, preparing teachers of migrants and refugees to address diversity and hardship, harnessing the potential of migrants and displaced people through skills and qualifications recognition, and supporting education needs of migrants and displaced people in humanitarian and development aid.

Whilst migrants to the Gulf States are largely economic, the report also underscores the educational requirements of refugees in the rest of the region. It praises countries in Western Asia, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where almost a third of the world's refugees are hosted, for their inclusive education policies towards Syrian refugees. Iran has also decreed that schools should accept all Afghan children regardless of documentation.

Unlike low and middle-income countries, where the share of migrants in the population has remained constant and low at about 1.5 percent, the share in high-income countries increased from 10 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2017. In Gulf states, such as Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, migrants are the majority group.

Source: International Islamic News Agency