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Education for Asylum-Seeking and Refugee Children in Urban Areas of Indonesia and Thailand

Tue, March 27, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 4th Floor, Don Julián


While Indonesia and Thailand have a long tradition of hosting refugees, these two countries are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol and do not recognise the rights or status of asylum seekers and refugees.
In Thailand, as of January 2017, there are 3,801 urban refugees and 4,130 asylum seekers registered with UNHCR Thailand. There has been an increased number of asylum seekers in Bangkok with the majority coming from Pakistan. The Royal Thai Government has no domestic legislation governing refugees or asylum seekers. The effect of the Royal Thai Government's decision not to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention hampers the State's ability to comply with international humanitarian standards. As a result, asylum seekers and refugees are not distinguished from other immigrants - legal or illegal. Urban asylum seekers wait an average of four years before the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) determines their refugee status.
While waiting, they are particularly at risk of arbitrary arrest, detention, and deportation by Thai authorities. Urban asylum seekers originating from Pakistan wait twice as long on average for UNHCR to determine their status.
The Royal Thai Government does not restrict access to education services for migrant children, refugee children, or asylum-seeking children. Save the Children's previous research into migrant education indicates that although the Thailand Education for All (EFA) policy dictates that all children, including refugees, should have access to free education regardless of legal status, this policy is implemented inconsistently. It is estimated that only 34% of urban refugee children attend government schools, with the vast majority of these children enrolled in kindergarten or primary levels.
In Indonesia, as of June 2017, is hosting 14,337 asylum seekers and refugees including more than 3,500 children. Over half of all refugees in Indonesia are from Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria and other parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The Indonesian constitution and human rights law specifically recognises a right to seek asylum. However, the Immigration Law provides that those without a valid visa have the status of an "illegal migrant" and may be detained, placed in an alternative location or deported.
The waiting time for refugee status determination in Indonesia is at least two years. The government does not resettle refugees or allow their local integration into the Indonesian society. Given the huge demand and the limited availability of offers for resettlement around the world, it is not uncommon for refugees to wait in Indonesia for five years or longer.
The recent Presidential Regulation on the Handling of Refugees includes a range of important provisions to guide the development of governmental programs that ensure the protection of refugees in the country. However, there is no concrete workplan on how to ensure the rights of refugee and asylum-seeking children and their family.
Currently, 90% of refugee children in Indonesia are out of school. Asylum seeking and refugee children in Indonesia have limited access to education. The recent Presidential decree does not explicitly state the rights to formal education for asylum seekers and refugees. In March 2017, UNHCR reported that there are 35 refugee children enrolled in public schools in Jakarta this year. Prior to their enrolment, refugee children attended the Bahasa Indonesia classes to prepare themselves for entering Indonesia schools for several months.
This study focuses on access, availability and quality of education and protection services including psychosocial support to asylum seeking and refugee children in urban areas of Indonesia and Thailand. It collects information on migration journeys and to explore the opportunities and challenges of urban life for children as well as presents a detailed and comprehensive overview of the challenges/barriers the most deprived children affected by migration (refugees and asylum seeking children and their family) face regarding access to basic services, especially education. The study also provides a set of recommendations to provide increased educational opportunities for asylum seeking and refugee children.


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