31.05.2018 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

PACE 2018: SYSTeam's advocacy for the inclusion of refugees in national education systems

©Fred W. Baker III

Last month, the High-Level Pan-African Conference on Education (PACE 2018) was held in Nairobi, Kenya. It was organized by UNESCO and the Government of Kenya in collaboration with the African Union and other key actors working to implement and monitor SDG4 and the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa (CESA 16-25).

The purpose of the meeting was to review progress and challenges, share country successes and lessons learned, and strengthen partnerships to accelerate the implementation of SDG 4 and CESA 16-25 and to jointly monitor the two agendas. Among the themes discussed was the inclusion of refugees in national education systems, the first steps of which were laid with the organization by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in November 2017 in Dakar, of a workshop on “Educational planning and refugees: inclusion of refugees in national systems”.

As a member of the Education System’s Strengthening Task Team (SYSTeam) of the Regional Coordination Group on SDG4-Education 2030 for West and Central Africa (RCG4), UNHCR facilitated a joint session on the theme. The main objective was to explore possible avenues for collaboration between countries to include refugees in national education systems and thus contributing towards the achievement of SDG4. The presentation also aimed to provide a common understanding of the issues at stake in order to increase opportunities for refugees to access education systems in host countries.

The session enabled SYSTEAM to contribute to the essential challenge of refugee education through the formulation of several key messages:

  • Refugee children are 5 times more likely not to go to school than non-refugee children;
  • In order to meet the challenge of their education, it is important to avoid putting in place parallel processes which end when funding is depleted, but rather to include refugee education in national education systems;
  • It will be necessary to work with governments to remove structural barriers to the integration of refugee education into national education policies and strategies. To do this, a comprehensive refugee intervention strategy is needed;
  • At the regional level, a common strategy needs to be put in place on standards and recognition of certification received by refugees across borders. This should ultimately facilitate the integration of refugees in the host countries or upon their return to their country of origin;
  • It is important to improve the quality of national statistics in sub-Saharan Africa through the collection and regular use of accurate and disaggregated data.

SYSTeam will continue its efforts, alongside UNHCR, to support these areas.

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