24.11.2017 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

SDG4 and Inclusive Education: Inclusion of Refugees in National Education Systems

©UNESCO/Maria Muñoz-Blanco

A workshop on “Education Planning and Refugees: Inclusion of refugees in National Systems and increased Participation of UNHCR in Sector Planning Mechanisms”, organized by UNHCR, was held on 15-17 November 2017 in Dakar, Senegal. Bringing together a diversity of education actors, the gathering aimed at increasing understanding and collaboration among countries and partners on relevant international frameworks and discussing how to better include refugees and IDPs in national education sector planning in a region that is particularly affected by refugee and IDP crisis.

UNESCO was invited to join participants from 10 countries of Francophone Africa, including Ministry of Education representatives, UNHCR national staff, representatives from GPE Coordinating Agencies and Local Education Groups, as well as various regional and international organisations, to present its work at both the regional and national levels towards the integration of SDG4 in education sector planning and to stimulate reflection on opportunities for the inclusion of refugees.

Recognizing the importance of lifelong learning, flexible pathways between and recognition of diverse means and modes of learning, with renewed emphasis on equity and inclusion, SDG4-Education 2030 provides an opportunity for countries to rethink their education systems to make them more relevant to the needs of societies and individuals including vulnerable groups such as refugees and IDPs, and for partners to rethink their type of support and strengthening of capacities. Through the Education 2030 Framework for Action, countries have committed to “developing more inclusive, responsive and resilient education systems to meet the needs of children, youth and adults in these contexts, including internally displaced persons and refugees.”

The Framework for Action also includes as an ‘indicative strategy’ under Target 4.5: “Ensure that education policies, sector plans and budget planning include risk assessment, preparedness and response to emergency situations for education, and initiatives that respond to the education needs of children, youth and adults affected by disaster, conflict, displacement and epidemics, including IDPs and refugees”. While education systems need to become more resilient, responsive in the face of conflict, social unrest and natural hazards and able to provide learning during emergencies, conflict and post-conflict situations, they also serve a critical role in preventing and mitigating conflict and in promoting social cohesion and peace.

Through group work, workshop participants reflected on the main challenges faced by their countries in terms of the inclusion of refugees into national planning with regard to systems’ governance, teaching and learning, data, analysis and information systems, and partnership/financing, including policy options to address them in light of the SDG4-ED2030 vision.

The Education Systems’ Strengthening Task Team of the Regional Coordination Group on SDG4-ED2030 for West & Central Africa (RCG4-WCA), chaired by UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar, is further collaborating on a number of tools that countries and partners can use in support of SDG4 integration into national education planning.

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