According to UNICEF, roughly 31 million children were living outside their country of birth in 2015, and among these children, around 10 million are refugees. Global migration is expected to increase, holding important implications for the education sector. Integrating immigrant and refugee children into schools is essential for the future prosperity of both migrant and native populations because diversity in education promotes skills development, individual well-being and social cohesion. In remote regions, education systems face particular challenges integrating immigrant and refugee students.
Waves of migration into, within or out of a region can create fluctuating demands for service provisions and resources in remote regions. This presents considerable challenges for the education sector in remote areas because schools and multiple stakeholders (principals, teachers, local government, NGOs, etc.) must find ways to prepare and adapt to population changes despite, in many cases, fewer resources, capacity and support from the centre.
Creating an effective model of governance with appropriate tools for migrant integration in education systems is critical to help solve common challenges identified at the local, regional and national level. Governance should not only include vertical policy coordination within the education sector (e.g. between ministries, educational authorities, municipalities, schools) for enhanced implementation, but also across horizontal sectors that immigrant and refugee students depend on, such as public health and housing. It is important that the diverse migrant populations as well as the economic, social and geographic characteristics of a remote region are taken into account in order to enable the successful integration of immigrant and refugee students in schools.
To ensure smooth transitions into their new communities and schools, other governance mechanisms in addition to policy coordination are required to overcome challenges in migrant integration such as capacity gaps among service providers, difficulties in strategic planning and a lack of multi-level accountability. It is thus important that governance mechanisms enable the provision of adequate funding for education integration, capacity building among public service providers and open-dialogue among stakeholders.
Important lessons can be learned from other sectors with experience responding to rapidly changing demands for services, the concentration of population and fluctuations in crises and risk. Sectors such as water governance, health, development (especially in crisis-ridden and fragile states) and risk management, which create strategies that capitalise on available resources and redistribute risk and demand for services, can help inform new and improved education policies and tools to ensure the successful integration of immigrant and refugee students in remote regions.
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Strength through Diversity project presentation
Presentations from the hosts
Session 1: Migration, education and remote regions
Session 2: Migration: from challenge to educational opportunity
Session 3: Policy learning from other sectors for education and co-ordination in remote regions
Session 4: Reflections on school visits
Session 5: What next for immigrant and refugee educational inclusion in remote regions?