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Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session
The number of refugees around the world is currently the highest it has been since World War II. Half of these 25.4 million refugees are children (UNHCR, 2018a). This unprecedented displacement poses great challenges for the education systems affected. Despite a great deal of international attention being directed towards access to education – including Sustainable Development Goal 4 on inclusive and equitable quality education for all, and initiatives like Education for All (EFA) – millions of children are out-of-school, particularly refugees. As protracted conflicts cause more people to flee across borders, it is becoming clear that ‘education cannot wait’ and that the risks associated with not providing education to these refugee children and youth is high.
The protracted nature of conflicts and population displacement globally raises important questions about how to manage and respond to long-term displacements and their impacts on children’s development and well-being. Moreover, displacement and refugee flows have recently started to be included in education sector plans (ESPs), as they continue to challenge the preparedness and responsiveness of governments, as well as the education institutions, local communities, and humanitarian and development partners. Integrating displaced populations in ESPs helps ensure that they benefit from relevant and coherent action.
Recent international agreements, including the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants (September 2016), the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) annexed to the Declaration, and the Global Compact on Refugees (2018) aim for a comprehensive approach to address refugee displacement. In 2017, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states (including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda) endorsed the Djibouti Declaration on Refugee Education. This Declaration includes provisions for the integration of refugees into national education systems and outlines plans to ensure access to quality education for refugees. These initiatives, as well as global cooperation and consultations with Members States and key stakeholders, are helping to inform the above-mentioned Global Compact on Refugees, which will be presented at the General Assembly in 2018. As a result, many governments and their partners are considering how to provide education to growing refugee populations (Mendenhall, 2014; Dryden-Peterson, 2011), including through the integration of displaced populations into national education systems.
Governments increasingly aim to provide responses that anticipate protraction and harness humanitarian expertise and funding in a way that fosters resilience in refugee-hosting regions through approaches that are more development-oriented, which can benefit both displaced and local host communities, especially when services are shared and government line ministries are the main partners. Their overall objective is to strengthen the national systems of host countries to support the inclusion and self-reliance of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people, and the improvement of services.
Consequently, governments and education partners are recognizing that the need to include displacement-related strategies and protocols in sector planning processes is even more urgent, considering the displacement trends in the region, and the constant insufficient funding for education in emergencies. Planning and managing education for displaced populations can be seen as an integral part of crisis-sensitive educational planning, which includes reflecting on risks of conflict and disaster and increasing equitable access to quality education for children and youth in crises. Crisis-sensitive planning should anticipate displacement among other risks, and requires individual, organizational, and institutional capacities within the respective ministries as well as among humanitarian and development partners. Effective coordination can help ensure that resources are used efficiently and equitably, avoid duplication of activities, and favour synergies and complementarities. Including displaced populations in national education systems will support the achievement of the SDGs, and specifically SDG 4. The inclusion of displaced populations also requires governments that are leading policy coordination efforts to align humanitarian and development actions with government priorities identified in national education sector plans.
This panel session will present work that is being undertaken in both Ethiopia and Jordan with ministries of education to ensure that the provision of education for refugee communities in both countries is taken into consideration in the planning processes.