In June 2018, Save the Children made the case for a global plan of action on refugee education which would clearly set out what refugee hosting countries need in order to fill the gaps in education delivery and to secure international support to meet those needs.
Today, sees the launch of the Global Framework on Refugee Education. Initiated by UNHCR and Save the Children, and developed collectively with over 60 organisations and Member States, it aims to inspire and guide global, regional and national the pledges being made in support of the education commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees. These pledges will be made at the first ever Global Refugee Forum in December and beyond.
Greater efforts are needed to support education for refugee boys and girls
3.7 million refugee children are out of school and those that are in school are sadly not gaining good learning outcomes. While there has been some small progress in enrolment at the primary and secondary level in recent years, the rate of change must be urgently accelerated, otherwise we could witness generations of refugee unable to learn.
Children’s right to and need for quality education do not pause in times of emergency and displacement; instead, they become amplified.
Access to free, safe, inclusive and quality education ensures that refugee boys and girls can learn, thrive and develop their potential; build their resilience; recover from their displacement; and contribute to their societies. Inclusion in the national education system is the best option for refugee children and youth as it is sustainable, relevant, of better quality and accredited.
Without special measures to reach the most marginalised children and youth, including refugees, reaching Sustainable Development Goal 4 in 10 years’ time will not be attainable.
But Decembers’ Forum could be key moment for change.
The Global Refugee Forum
World leaders affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees in December 2018 after two years of extensive consultations between Member States, international organisations, refugees, civil society, the private sector, and other experts.
The Global Compact aims to provide a structure for more predictable and equitable ‘responsibility-sharing’ by setting out a blueprint for all stakeholders to ensure that host communities get the support they need. It recognises that sustainable solutions to refugee situations, including education, require international cooperation.
The Global Refugee Forum in December represents the first major opportunity to turn the promises in the agreement into action. Education is one of six major themes and it has convened the largest number of co-sponsors, demonstrating the increasing global and national interest there is for this agenda.
However, the test of the Forum’s success will be whether it delivers tangible benefits for refugees and host communities, including the commitment that all refugees receive an education within a few months of their displacement. This is why the Framework is needed.
The new Global Framework on Refugee Education
This new Framework could rapidly increase the strength, scope and collaborative approach to pledge-making on education at the Forum.
By bringing together a wide range of co-sponsors to develop it, distinct areas for action have been identified for pledging and guidance is offered to different kinds of stakeholders – including from refugee hosting governments to technical and financial partners.
The three overall Outcome Areas for contributions are:
Inclusion in national education systems: Including refugee children and youth in national education systems to benefit from increased access to the full cycle of quality education, including Early Childhood Development and Education, Primary and Secondary learning as well as certified non-formal education.
Qualifications and skills for work: Increasing access to accredited Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education and eliminating systemic policy barriers.
Emergency Response: Providing timely and amplified education responses in emergencies that strengthen local education systems and support hosting communities to facilitate sustainable refugee inclusion.
Pledging can take the form of policy change announcements, new partnerships or initiatives, fresh research agendas, new programming on the ground and of course new international financing.
Meeting our promises
We urgently call upon all stakeholders to use the Framework to prepare impactful pledges that will make progress towards the promise we made to get all refugee boys and girls into school within three months of their displacement. With this Framework in place we now have a greater chance of delivering on this vow.
The Global Refugee Forum could mark a major moment of increased action and commitment on education but only if strong pledges by donors, refugee hosting counties and international organisations are made.
We must not fail on our promises to children.