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Guarantee education in a state of emergency!

Don’t leave refugees and their right to quality and equal educational opportunities behind in times of Corona…

This petition initiated by education researchers at Austrian universities and colleges demanding that education must not become an emergency in itself when it comes to forced migration.

It appeals to the responsibility and solidarity of educators, education researchers, the public, and political stakeholders for refugees. Even in times of a pandemic currently dominating the media, we should not ignore vulnerable groups’ plight.

In the course of their flight, refugees have to interrupt or abandon their education at schools or universities. Arriving in Europe, they are given hardly any opportunities to build on the skills that they have already acquired or to continue their education. Current figures show that many children in so-called ‘refugee camps’ remain without education. Educational opportunities remain non-existent, low or not adequate, and transition to further education contexts difficult or impossible.

Current precarious conditions make it more likely to affect future living conditions.  Disadvantageous contexts are likely to manifest among future generations. Thus, promoting inequality.

We call for children, adolescents and their families to be provided with adequate and quality education, even in so-called ‘refugee camps.’ Withholding educational opportunities implies that children, adolescents and adults are left to fend for themselves after potentially traumatizing experiences.

Educational institutions are to provide security, routine, and support through guidance and counselling. Interrupted or discontinued (educational) biographies, on the other hand, might lead to far-reaching dangers for the psycho-social health of those affected.

We urge political stakeholders…

  • to ensure quality and individualized education and lifelong learning opportunities for refugees;
  • to ensure continuous, language-sensitive, informed, trauma-sensitive and high-quality education, training and counselling programs;
  • to enable professional/pedagogical staff (such as teachers, social workers and psychologists) with relevant linguistic repertoires and migration pedagogical competences to fulfil their social responsibility;
  • to support efforts of children, adolescents and adults with migration and/or flight experience – often making great and astonishingly successful efforts – to learn the host country languages. This implies an inclusive language-sensitive subject teaching and that a multilingual didactic approach is necessary, which also appreciates first language(s). This is to facilitate access to new languages.

„Education for all“ must be more than a slogan. The protection of human and children’s rights not only benefits refugees but it is an achievement to be protected and thus also a condition for the future European prosperity. On this basis, all people seeking protection in Europe must be met with solidarity, appreciation, and respect.

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