This paper was commissioned by the Global Education Monitoring Report as background information to assist in drafting the 2019 GEM Report, Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls.
In 2017, there were an estimated 258 million people living outside their country of origin. Of them, about 30 million were school-aged. Migrants include different groups such as refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers, stateless, undocumented migrants and internal displaced persons. The right to education of migrants, irrespective of their legal or migration status, is guaranteed under international law on the basis of the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination. The main treaties guaranteeing the right to education apply to all migrants. In addition, migrant-specific treaties include provisions on the right to education. This international legal framework applies only to the extent that states have committed to it. At national level, migrants face legal and practical barriers to effectively enjoying their right to education. Some states show good examples of protecting the right to education of migrants in law and in practice.
Early childhood, defined as the period from birth to eight years old, is a crucial time for the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth of children. Access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE), therefore, can be vital in laying the foundations for children’s long-term development, well-being, learning, and health. Despite this, universal and equitable access to free, quality, and compulsory pre-primary education is one of the major education challenges. One out of two children does not receive pre-primary education. While access to quality pre-primary education is inadequate globally, the opportunities for pre-primary education are drastically restricted for migrant children. Significant inequalities exist between migrant and local-born children in terms of quality access to pre-primary education.
This brief focuses on some of the important issues related to young migrant children’s access to ECCE and pre-primary education, and the key challenges in the existing legal framework. It further proposes to strengthen the legal framework and policy development for the inclusion of ECCE in-migrant response strategies.