More countries should educate refugees in national schools to help them integrate, the United Nations said on Tuesday, praising Chad and Uganda as poor countries setting an example.
In the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education, seven education ministers from eastern Africa committed to integrate refugees and returnees into education sector plans by 2020. Uganda has already fulfilled this promise.
“Experience suggests that the inclusion processes have been very positive,” said Manos Antoninis, director of UNESCO’s annual Global Education Monitoring Report.
“The longer (refugees) stay separate, the more they feel alienated,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Wars, persecution and other violence drove a record 68.5 million people from their homes in 2017, the majority uprooted inside their own countries while 25 million were refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Only six in 10 refugee children were enrolled in primary school and one in four in secondary school last year, UNESCO said.
Uganda, which hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa at 1.4 million, brought humanitarian and development agencies together this year to create mixed schools for refugees and host communities, it said.
Chad, which hosts some 450,000 refugees, has developed a temporary education plan for refugees while it adapts the national system to include them, a first in Africa, UNESCO said.
According to Reuters, the government has sent Chadian teachers to refugee camps to ease the transition, and this year converted 108 refugee schools into regular public schools that will also benefit locals, said Antoninis.
It has also trained teachers from among the refugee population to be able to teach in Chadian schools, he said.