Chad, Uganda praised for integrating refugee pupils

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More countries should educate refugees in national schools to help them integrate, the United Nations said, praising Chad and Uganda as poor countries setting an example.

About four million child refugees were out of school in 2017, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, said, which meant they not only lost the right to education but host nations missed an opportunity to integrate people from different communities.
“Experience suggests the inclusion processes have been positive,” said Manos Antoninis, director of UNESCO’s annual Global Education Monitoring Report.
“The longer refugees stay separate, the more they feel alienated,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Wars, persecution and other violence drove a 68.5 million people from their homes in 2017, the majority uprooted in their own countries while 25 million were refugees, according to the UN refugee agency.

World leaders agreed in New York in 2016 to ensure all refugee and migrant children receive education within months of arrival in a host country.

Asylum-seeking children in Australia have limited access to education, Rohingya in Bangladesh can only attend separate, non-formal schools and many refugees in Africa are confined to camps, making it hard to get jobs afterwards, UNESCO said.
“The hope is in the future governments all over the world will be more reluctant to exclude refugees and put them in separate schools,” said Antoninis.

Only six in 10 refugee children were enrolled in primary school and one in four in secondary school last year, UNESCO said.

Uganda, which hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa at 1.4 million, brought humanitarian and development agencies together this year to create mixed schools for refugees and host communities, it said.

Chad, which hosts some 450,000 refugees, developed a temporary education plan for refugees while it adapts the national system to include them, a first in Africa, UNESCO said.

Government sent Chadian teachers to refugee camps to ease the transition and this year converted 108 refugee schools into regular public schools to benefit locals as well, said Antoninis.

It trains teachers from the refugee population to teach in Chadian schools, he said.

Education remains a low priority in places where people flee conflict, experts said.
“During emergencies, education is not given the attention it deserves as a life-saving intervention,” said Euloge Ishimwe, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Africa.
“Many people do not know education in emergencies brings about a sense of normalcy and hope that in itself can empower communities to protect themselves.”