Migration and displacement affect education.
Internal migration to cities for work often leads to millions of children being left behind, a trend affecting one in three children in rural China for instance. In many middle income countries, such population movements lead to large informal settlements where access to public education is poor. Urbanization is also one of the factors that cause large scale rural school closure and consolidation; half of schools closed in the Russian Federation in 15 years.
But it can also improve education opportunities, with many who move from rural to urban areas acquiring more education than those who stay behind. In Indonesia the gap was three years.
International migration can deplete key human resources from poorer countries: our calculations show that at least one in five of the highly skilled are emigrating in 27% of countries.
But it can also benefit the education of children of international migrants. Children of Colombian immigrants to the United States had at least 2 more years of education than children of people who did not migrate.
Displacement leads to refugees or internally displaced people often arriving at less well served areas in terms of education, putting pressure on already weak systems, particularly in many countries in Africa. They are some of the most vulnerable in the world, and yet are often denied their right to education. A total of 1.5 billion refugee school days have been missed since the landmark New York Declaration was signed just two years ago.
But there are also opportunities to be found, with those forcibly displaced often leaving insecurity behind: there were 12,700 attacks on schools between 2013 and 2017 in conflict-affected countries.
Education can shape migration flows
The higher the education level, the higher the probability of migration. Those with tertiary education are twice as likely to migrate from villages to cities and five times as likely to emigrate abroad as those with primary education. A point often missed in public debates is that, with relatively few exceptions, immigrants are more educated than natives on average, even in countries that do not pursue selective immigration policies.
An inclusive education can address sources of tension, help those on the move realise their potential and enable migrants to better support their communities back home. The Report shows that if the cost of remitting money abroad fell from 7% to the SDG target of 3%, $1 billion could be generated for education.
Faced with the challenge of #EducationOnTheMove, our Report found multiple positive signs of a move towards including refugees and migrants in national education systems.
Today, 8 out of the 10 top hosting countries include refugees in their national education systems. Countries such as Chad, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey have shouldered considerable costs to ensure refugees attend school side by side with nationals. In the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education, seven education ministers from eastern Africa committed to integrate refugees and returnees into education sector plans by 2020. Uganda has already fulfilled this promise.
For immigrants, positive pockets of action are seen as well. While less than one in ten high income countries had fully adopted multiculturalism in education in the 1980s, more than one in four had done so by 2010 and over two-thirds at least partially.
Canada, with the largest percentage of immigrants among the seven richest industrialized countries, makes sure children learn about migration starting in second grade and has enshrined multi-culturalism in its constitution. Ireland, with the highest percentage of first generation immigrants in the European Union, succeeded in funding an intercultural education strategy while in the midst of a deep financial crisis.
Nonetheless, major barriers persist, which the Report argues should be abolished.
Immigrants may be nominally included but practically excluded from schools, kept in preparatory classes too long, or separated into slower school streams as in many European countries, compounding their disadvantages. While policies may have moved towards inclusion, discrimination may persist with prohibitive amounts of paperwork required to enrol. Teachers require more training. In six European countries, half of teachers said they had insufficient support managing diversity in classrooms.
Immigrant children may advance relative to peers in home countries, but lag behind peers in host countries. In 2017, in the European Union, twice as many young people born abroad left school early compared to natives.
There are still countries where refugees are not included in the national education system. Rohingyas in Bangladesh, Burundians in the United Republic of Tanzania and many Afghan refugees in Pakistan can only get an education in separate, non-formal, community-based or private schools, if they even get one . Some of these host countries, do not provide refugee learners with the language tuition they need to achieve social integration and employment prospects. Asylum-seeking children may be detained in many countries, including Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico, often with limited or no access to education.
Despite political will, the degree of refugee inclusion can also be affected by a lack of resources. Kenya, for example, allows refugees to benefit from its national educational curriculum but does not achieve full inclusion because its refugee learners are living in camps where they are unable to interact with their Kenyan peers. Lebanon and Jordan, hosts to the largest number of refugees per capita, do not have the resources necessary to build more schools. They have therefore established separate morning and afternoon school shifts for citizen and refugee children, which limits interaction between the two groups.
The need for better international support is shown by new findings on the financing of refugee education, with only one-third of the resources needed provided. Humanitarian aid is not sufficient; the Report calls for it to be jointly planned with development aid to fill the gap.
Later this year, most countries are signing up to two new global compacts on migrants and refugees that recognise education as an opportunity. This Report is the action plan for countries to use to fulfil their commitments. Please read it, share it with your networks and discuss it with us online @GEMReport #EducationOnTheMove.