Education International
Education International

UK: Union highlights needs of refugee children

published 23 September 2016 updated 4 October 2016

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has highlighted the appalling impact of the global refugee crisis on the world’s children and young people, especially in terms of education.

At the UK Trades Union Congress’ Congress in Brighton on 14 September, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) President, Kathy Wallis, urged the Government to play its full part in ensuring all refugee and displaced children are able to access education and are protected from abuse and violence. She made the call while moving a motion on the impact of the refugee crisis on children.

“In the midst of destruction, violence, and instability, schools are a sanctuary, a haven of normality and hope, a place of learning and opportunity,” she said. “Neglecting a child’s right to education undermines not only their future, but also the future of their societies.”

Lack of education leaves children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, including recruitment into armed groups, childlabour and early marriage, Wallis stressed.

Not enough spent on education

She highlighted the fact that over half of the 21 million refugees registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are under 18, many travelling unaccompanied. Of these, 3.6 million are school-aged children with no access to education.

Regretting that “despite this desperate situation”, just one per cent of the global humanitarian aid budget is spent on education, she said that “the NASUWT has a proud history of working with our teacher trade union colleagues in areas such as these, providing practical assistance including financial support and training”.

Wallis acknowledged that much more must be done to support refugee and displaced children within their native countries, in neighbouring states, and in the UK.