Background to the Curriculum

                          The global level of forced displacement across international borders continues to rise. However, the numbers of refugee children enrolled in schools is failing to keep pace, according to the study ‘’Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis’’ released by UNHCR[1] in August 2018.

                          By the end of 2017, there were more than 25.4 million refugees around the world, 19.9 million of them under UNHCR’s mandate[2]. More than half – 52 per cent – were children. Among them, 7.4 million were of school age. However, four million refugee children do not attend school, the UNHCR says in the report.[3]

The Report states that ‘’taken as a whole, refugee children and youth have far fewer educational opportunities than their peers. Of the entire population of refugees, 54 per cent are out of school, compared to 10 per cent of children at primary or lower secondary school level globally – meaning that at this level refugees are five times more likely to be out of school.[4]’’

Education empowers

Education is a fundamental right for all according to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not privilege but a basic need which helps migrants  acquire the knowledge and life saving skills to build self-reliance and lead fulfilling and independent lives. Migrant children and youth’s  attainment  to education  can protect  them from exploitation, crime, radicalisation, child soldiering ,child labour, child marriage  and trafficking in human beings.

Education imparts a sense of safety and stability to refugee   children and youth, who have been forcibly displaced and severely traumatized by political conflicts  in their countries. It  aids them to retain a normal life. The education of migrants  children,  youth and adults  is also crucial not only for the sustainable development of  the host countries but also that of their countries of origin once peace is built and they return to their homeland.  Education provides an opportunity to foster social cohesion by creating a sense of inclusiveness and  economic equality which results in  reducing instability and peaceful and sustainable development. Schools play a very important role in the settlement process for refugees by establishing connections between the host community, migrant students and their families.

 Role of educators

                        International migration, especially irregular migration, has an enormous impact on  educational systems and services globally. Massive flows of migrants  affect educational institutions, schools and  educators  in the host countries. These new developments should lead educators, who have a large role to play, to reflect on their  teaching practices  so that they can  address the learning needs of the newly-arrived migrant students efficiently, regardless of their age. They should provide support for refugee students and  foster tolerance and respect for diversity in the school community. However, according to research, teachers feel ill-prepared to teach students from diverse socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.[5] Handling cultural diversity in the classroom is a  new and difficult experience for many. Effective professional development provided through  pre-service and in-service training, can  contribute to teachers’ acquisition of  relevant skills and competences for managing a multicultural and multilingual classroom.

Educators  with migrant students are faced with specific challenges which may  affect their motivation which is crucial for creating a safe and effective learning environment and for ensuring student motivation in return. One major challenge for educators  in a culturally diverse learning environment  is difference of languages. Educators  should be supported to acquire new pedagogical approaches in second-language teaching and in supporting migrant  students to help them overcome their trauma. They should be trained in psychology  to deal with refugee students  who  are often traumatized from pre-migration and resettlement experiences. Educators  should be aware of the facts that many refugees have been forced to leave their country where  they may have been exposed to violence,  combat,  malnutrition, detention  and even torture. Some refugee children and youth may have come without their parents which makes them all the more vulnerable. They  often lack familiarity with the language of schooling in host countries and may have missed out on several years  of schooling.  Another challenge is the  different learning levels of students which affects both students and educators in the classroom.

More specific course work and internship programs  should be added to adequately prepare educators to meet the needs of migrant students at any age. It is the aim of this course to support the professional development of educators  working with migrant students by  providing  specialised training in intercultural competences and managing cultural diversity.[6]


 [1] United Nations Refugee Agency

[2] Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis, August 2018, UNHCR, http://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2018/8/5b86342b4/four-million-refugee-children-schooling-unhcr-report.html

[3] Ibid,p.11

[4] Ibid.p.14

[5] European Parliamentary Research Service, 2016; OECD, 2014, Preparing teachers for diversity : Final Report

[6] Communication from the Commission to the EU Parliament and the Council , 2017, EU Integration of Migrant Children, 2017, The protection of children in migration, {SWD(2017) 129)