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Approaches to language in education for migrants and refugees in the Asia-Pacific Region

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UNESCO Bangkok, together with the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Education Working Group (AP MLE-WG), has a longstanding interest in education issues impacting children from ethnolinguistic minority and marginalized communities. In particular, the AP MLE-WG has played a leading role in advancing mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) policies and practices.

UNESCO Bangkok commissioned this paper to examine strategies for addressing the needs of refugee, migrant and internally displaced children in the Asia-Pacific region. This document aims to create a stronger knowledge base to support Member States as they formulate education policies that are responsive to the needs of such children.

This document aims to:

  • Examine how linguistic diversity and human mobility intersect and impact minority, migrant and refugee children's access to quality, inclusive education
  • Link policy priorities to promising practices, based on international frameworks and lessons learned from successful programmes
  • Recommend steps for improving language-in-education policies and their implemen-tation. To do this, this paper examines:
  • Global and regional trends in migration
  • The impact of migration on children's education
  • Linguistic diversity and its implications for language-in-education policies and practices
  • Research and resources that support inclusive quality education for migrant and refugee children.

This document highlights the fact that the Asia-Pacific region hosts the largest number of refugees and displaced people in the world, and is the place of origin for nearly half of all international migrants. However, data related to the unique language-in-education needs of refugee and migrant children in and from this area is sparse. Additional research is desperately needed to ensure that the promise of SDG 4 is realized for all of the Asia-Pacific region's children.