Every minute in 2018, 25 people were forced to flee their home as a result of war, violence, persecution or human rights violations (UNHCR 2018). About half of the world’s refugees are children, and they are routinely denied their fundamental right to education. Globally, 3.7 million refugee children are out of school (UNHCR 2019).
But for young refugees around the world, including those in the UK, education is a top priority; it’s how they begin to rebuild their disrupted lives and rekindle their hope for the future.
“For me, education is freedom. It opens doors and clears your way. It’s like walking from darkness into light.” (Aarash, a young asylum seeker)
It is vital that young refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK are able to learn and thrive in safe, welcoming and supportive environments. Will your school or college help Refugee Support Network and Unicef UK to amplify this message at the Global Refugee Forum by signing our #SchoolsSayWelcome pledge?
Why is the Global Refugee Forum an important moment?
The first ever United Nations Global Refugee Forum (GRF) is taking place in Geneva from 16-18 December. It will mark one year since member states of the United Nations General Assembly affirmed an international agreement, known as the Global Compact for Refugees, to create a stronger, fairer response to large movements of refugees. The Global Refugee Forum will bring together leaders and stakeholders from around the world to build momentum and take important steps in furthering this international agreement.
There was a clear focus on refugee education in the Global Compact for Refugees. Through it, UN member states committed to quality, inclusive national education systems and to minimising the time refugee children spend out of school. With refugee education a core thematic area, the Global Refugee Forum is an invaluable opportunity to turn this strong commitment into concrete action. Refugee Support Network and Unicef UK want UK schools and colleges to be a part of this historic and important moment.
UK schools and colleges have the power to make refugee children feel safe and welcomed.
Through our work we have seen first-hand how powerful it is when schools and colleges create safe and inclusive environments and open their doors to young refugees and asylum seekers: it changes their lives. We’ve had the privilege of working with some remarkable schools and colleges that take meaningful steps to support the academic learning and socio-emotional wellbeing of young refugees and asylum seekers.
We want to highlight this good practice at the Global Refugee Forum. So we’ve partnered with Unicef UK to put together a pledge which gives schools and colleges across the UK the opportunity to affirm their support of the message that refugee children are welcomed.
Will your school or college be a part of this movement? Whether you already have refugee and asylum-seeking students in your school or college, or whether you are ready and waiting to welcome them, we invite you to join Refugee Support Network and Unicef UK and sign our #SchoolsSayWelcome pledge. The pledge will be submitted and shared ahead of the Global Refugee Forum so everyone knows that, here in the UK, #SchoolsSayWelcome.
By signing the pledge, your school or college will receive a downloadable certificate, links to resources to support your pledge implementation, and acknowledgement of any tweets that use the hashtag #SchoolsSayWelcome.
Together, we have the power to make sure all children and young people can learn whilst feeling safe, welcome and supported in our schools and colleges.
We, the undersigned schools and colleges, ahead of the Global Refugee Forum 2019:
- Recalling that all children and young people have a right to education, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and reiterated in numerous national and international commitments;
- Recognising that this right is inalienable and moves with children as they move across borders;
- Believing that schools and colleges should be safe havens for refugee and asylum-seeking children and play a key role in delivering both education and other support services for these children;
Do hereby pledge to:
- Adopt a whole-school approach to inclusion, valuing and celebrating the diversity of all children and young people in our schools and colleges;
- Create an environment where refugee children and young people feel safe and welcomed;
- Ease and support access to our school or college for refugee children, including for those arriving mid-way through the school year. If relevant, we will ensure that all staff know that certain children who have arrived in the UK less than 2 years ago may be excluded from performance data;
- Build the capacity of our teaching, support and governance staff so that they are better able to support the academic learning and socio-emotional wellbeing of refugee children and young people;
- Use our position in the local community to champion refugees and promote an inclusive message of welcome and;
- Share information and good practice on inclusion of refugee children with other schools or colleges.