Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls

UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, Migration, displacement and education, is released in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay today in Berlin. The report shows that the number of migrant and refugee school-age children around the world today has grown by 26% since 2000 and could fill half a million classrooms.

The Report highlights countries’ achievements and shortcomings in ensuring the right of migrant and refugee children to benefit from quality education, a right that serves the interests of both learners and the communities they live in.

Highlights of the report:

Literacy levels in rural households of India dip with seasonal migration

In India, 10.7 million children aged 6 to 14 lived in rural households with a seasonal migrant in 2013. About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall.

About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites, and 40% are likely to end up in work rather than education, experiencing abuse and exploitation.

Inter-State migration rates have doubled between 2001 and 2011. An estimated 9 million migrated between States annually from 2011 to 2016. The report also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate.

The construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants. A survey in Punjab state of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants. Between 65% and 80% of all children aged five to 14 living at the kilns worked there seven to nine hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported a lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children.

What has been done in this regard?

  • India has taken steps to address the issue.
  • The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children.
  • National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for the flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education.
  • The policies were attempted to create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states.
  • Some State governments have also taken steps for migrant children’s education.

Pending Issues:

  • Most interventions are focused on keeping children in home communities instead of actively addressing the challenges faced by those who are already on the move.
  • There is the growth of slums and informal settlements where schools are often scarce due to migration as a challenge. The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1, 00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.
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