A refugee from Afghanistan in a classroom | Photo via DW: Getty Images/AFP/O.Bunic
A refugee from Afghanistan in a classroom | Photo via DW: Getty Images/AFP/O.Bunic

The UN says countries aren't doing enough to integrate a growing number of refugee children into their national education systems. A new report has revealed that Germany alone requires tens of thousands of new teachers.

In a report released in Berlin on Tuesday, the UN agency for culture and education, UNESCO, warned that far too many refugee children are still being denied access to quality education.

The 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, Migration, displacement and education, shows that a shortage of trained teachers and funding is hampering efforts to integrate migrant students.

The key takeaways

  • Half of the world's forcibly displaced people are under the age of 18.
  • Often they have limited access to the education systems of the countries where they are seeking asylum.
  • Low- and middle-income countries host 89 percent of refugees but often lack the funds to support their education.
  • Shortfalls in teaching staff also pose huge obstacles — even Germany would need 42,000 new teachers to properly educate the refugee children it has taken in.
  • The report said low-income countries Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda were "champions" when it came to integrating refugees into schools.
  • It also praised Canada and Ireland as "global leaders" in implementing inclusive education policies.
  • The report urges donors to triple funding for refugee education.

'Education is the key'

"Everyone loses when the education of migrants and refugees is ignored," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement. "Education is the key to inclusion and cohesion. Increased classroom diversity, while challenging for teachers, can also enhance respect for diversity and be an opportunity to learn from others."

Manos Antoninis, director of the education report, warned countries not to get complacent and "think the job is done once immigrants are in school. They are being excluded in so many other ways."

Read more: Refugee children making a new life in Germany

Too often, these students "end up in slower school tracks or in under-resourced establishments in troubled neighborhoods," he said.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller told the Funke newspaper group that Germany would increase its funding for the education of young people in emergency situations such as war from €16 million ($18.3 million) to €31 million.

Around 75 million children in crisis situations have no opportunity to go to school, the minister said, and "we have to act decisively now, otherwise they will grow up without prospects."

Europe must do more: The report highlighted the fact that a lack of integration and language teaching means first-generation migrant children are twice as likely to drop out of school than local pupils in the EU.

nm/rt (AFP, AP)

First published: November 19, 2018

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