Migrants and refugees

Education represents the hope of building a better future, gaining a new sense of belonging, rebuilding lives and charting a path towards a more peaceful and prosperous future. According to the 2019 edition of the Global Education Monitoring Report, migration and displacement interrelate with education in complex ways, affecting ‘those who move, those who stay, those who host migrants and refugees and those who may do so’ (GEMR, 2019, 1).

Against the backdrop of 272 million international migrants, over 25 million refugees and more than 41 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide (IOM, 2019), the support and integration of refugees and migrants remains a global priority, and one that calls for immediate and concerted action.

To facilitate the transition of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons into host societies, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is developing a research project on the recognition, validation and accreditation of – and, to a larger extent, flexible learning pathways in – informal and non-formal learning for migrants and refugees. The aim of the project is to foster sensitive policies, operational systems and supportive mechanisms for work, further education/training or active engagement in society/third sector that will enable migrants and refugees in the target regions and countries to obtain recognized and accredited qualifications.

Migrants and refugees, and both youth and adults, face considerable barriers to access to and participation in quality education. Due to conflict situations, they may have dropped out of school for several years; some may not have attended school at all; and others may have lost vital qualification documents, all of which makes it difficult for them to enter or re-enter education and training. With a lack of effective policies, frameworks and mechanisms to support the recognition of prior learning, the integration of migrants and refugees into education and the world of work remains a major challenge. The development of robust recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) systems, linked to opportunities for second-chance schooling, vocational training and upskilling, is a necessary and promising way of addressing this global issue.

The project is expected to:

  • inform national RVA policies and frameworks for migrants and refugees, and support simple and effective mechanisms for their skills recognition. The project will focus initially on selected target countries, with the aim of including more countries as the project evolves. This will require the involvement of major stakeholders: authorities, employers and trade unions, as well as NGOs and target group organizations;
  • foster knowledge-sharing among countries at the macro-, meso- and micro-levels. Policy dialogue and the sharing of best practice will be achieved by drawing on UIL’s extensive networks and communication channels.

Addressing the needs of migrants and refugees for skills recognition and development at the national and local levels requires setting standards, developing mechanisms and coordinating actions. In recent years, UIL has made major progress in this field through:

Innovative literacy learning and education for refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons

In April 2020, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the UNESCO Education Sector’s Youth, Literacy and Skills Unit and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) launched a global landscape study entitled ‘From Radio to Artificial Intelligence: Innovative Literacy Learning and Education for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons’. This study will contribute to the implementation of Strategic Goal 2 on equity in the framework of the UNESCO Strategy for Youth and Adult Literacy (2020-2025), adopted by the General Conference in November 2019. The purpose of this study is to explore and document effective policies, measures and practices using technologies to support literacy learning and skills development among refugees, migrants and IDPs. It will examine promising case studies from around the globe at the systemic, institutional and programme level, and draw up a set of evidence-based policy recommendations for those who plan to design holistic educational interventions for these vulnerable populations. A call for case studies was launched in May 2020, and a study report will be published in early 2021.