Rabat- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released Tuesday, on World Children’s day, the Global Education Monitoring report for 2019, entitled: “Migration, displacement and education: Building Bridges, Not Walls.”Noting that Morocco hosts large communities of undocumented immigrants, the study assessed the achievements of countries in ensuring the right to quality education for refugees and migrant children. UNESCO asserted that although Morocco’s law N0.4 limited access to education only to Moroccan children, the 2011 Constitution came to recognize the right to education for all children in the country. The report estimated the number of undocumented child African immigrants enrolled in Moroccan schools in 2015-2016 at 7,500. The study asserted that Morocco’s Ministry of Education opened access to education for children from sub-Saharan African countries in 2013, albeit some required documents that are somewhat “difficult to meet.”The report gives the example of the Casablanca-Settat’s Regional Academy of Education and Training requiring medical certificates for enrolment in schools, especially for migrants from countries affected by the Ebola virus epidemic.Read Also: World Bank: Moroccan Schools Rely on Passive Learning, Violent DisciplineLess than half of undocumented migrant children aged 8 to 17 years old received in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier centres attended school in 2014. The study argues that changes in country policies affect the education of the children and hinder the progress of the full inclusion of migrant children in national education systems.While accurate statistics on sub-Saharan migrants aiming to settle in Europe are “difficult” to estimate, the report notes, there is an increasing number of sub-Saharan migrants who remain in transit countries, such as Morocco.Over the past years, the number of undocumented migrants has steadily increased in Morocco, especially from sub-Saharan African nations. According to Pew Research Center, sub-Saharan Africans have accounted for 8 of the 10 fastest growing international migrant populations since 2010.The 2017 World Bank Report noted that the Moroccan Foundation for Financial Education, in partnership with the International Labour Organization, opened financial education programmes and conducted “qualitative surveys before developing the training to ensure the toolkit met the needs of both migrants and their families.”Many countries exclude migrants and refugees from their national education systems. Countries like Australia, Hungary, Indonesia, and Malaysia provide limited access to education for the migrant children. “Half of the world’s forcibly displaced people” are under the age of 18, yet the countries holding the asylum-seeking children in detention, including Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Karen refugees in Thailand and many Afghan refugees in Pakistan, could only find a small space in private schools or community-based institutions, UNESCO emphasized.“Everyone loses when the education of migrants and refugees is ignored. Education is the key to inclusion and cohesion. Increased classroom diversity,” states the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.Despite challenges teachers face in regard to classroom diversity, it is “ an opportunity to learn from others. It is the best way to make communities stronger and more resilient,” Azoulay said.
“Children have the right to education, they have the right to play, they have the right for hope, they have the right for joy, they have the right to grow, and they have the right to learn,” said UNICEF Representative Eric Laroche. “What we are seeing in recent weeks is precisely a violation of all these rights because a child that goes to school – a girl that goes to school and sees her school being burnt down is deprived of her rights.” Reporting that over the past week, there had been incidents against schools in Kandahar, Wardak and Sar-i-Pul, he told reporters in Kabul that the pattern could not be allowed to continue. Anticipating questions on whether the Taliban was involved, he said, “We don’t think it is a resurgence of Taliban but we think it is time… to help people react against these acts of violence.”He warned that there could be no peace in the future of Afghanistan until the people understood that education was central to the country’s growth and economic development. For its part, UNICEF would “help at the community level, at the local level, at the central level, the government, to make sure that children’s education, children’s schools are going to be protected,” he said.Amid this grim picture, he voiced optimism about the overall trend, noting that 3 million Afghan children went back to school following the fall of the Taliban, including a significant percentage of girls, who had been banned from receiving an education during the Taliban’s rule. “If you would have talked to a child, any Afghan, two years ago or even one and a half years ago, what struck me was the lack of hope,” he said. “We are restoring hope.”