What are the next steps? Where are the gaps that still need to be addressed?

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What are the next steps? Where are the gaps that still need to be addressed?

To help start the conversation and keep the focus of this discussion thread, please consider the following questions:

  • What else needs to be done to advance children’s right to education?  Where are the gaps?
  • What new ideas are bubbling up for future tactics?
  • How can we make advancing children’s right to education more child-centered? 

Share your experiences, thoughts, ideas and questions by adding a comment below or replying to existing comments!

Refugee Education

Refugee education is a huge gap in advancing the right to education. Of course this stems from the relatively new phenomena that is emergency education (education in emergency situations), however also I feel the fact that refugee circumstances - particularly in camps - are considered to be temporary by definition. In reality, the average protracted refugee situation lasts for 17 years according to UNHCR statistics. 

Whilst basic education is focused on, post-primary levels are somewhat neglected and despite the number of years in camps, youth cannot access education (or find it difficult to do so) beyond the primary level. The biggest barrier? Fees. Given restrictions on movement and difficulties in finding legitimate work, it is extremely difficult for these fees to be realistically payable. Consequently, whilst on the surface it appears as though all is being done to enable access to all levels of education, the measures in place do no seem relevant to context. 

Refugee Education Trust

Hi Sadia,

Thanks for your post. The Refugee Education Trust is an independent organisation with strategic alliances with UNHCR and other UN agencies. It has offices in a wide range of countries throughout the world. More information is available on their website: http://theret.org/en/home

Warm regards,


re: The RET

Hi Duncan

Thank your for your reply.

I'm familiar with the work of The RET. My MA dissertation examined the impact of current emergency education practices upon curriculum development and education rights in Tanzania, and I became familiar with RET's work.

Best wishes,




Transition from primary to secondary school

Sadia A wrote:
Whilst basic education is focused on, post-primary levels are somewhat neglected...

Hi Sadia,

I must say I think this problem extends beyond refugees and is a huge issue across the developing world.  While many countries have  focused on the delivery of primary education the post primary education sector has not received adequate attention.  The issue of being able to afford the fees is obviously a very important but it is not the only one.  I have recently co-written a paper on the issue of transition which looks at the problems in the context of Kenya and Uganda, where Build Africa works.  Even in these countries where there is some provision of free secondary education then number of children progressing from primary school to secondary school is inadequate.  Issues such as the quality and relevance of education, as well as distribution of opportunities and the composition of the household all contribute to the issue of access.  

Of course the situation for refugees is even more challenging however I think it is important ot look at the country-wide context.  In areas where very few children are progressing from primary school to secondary school it is very unlikely that refugees will be afforded more opportunities.    

The paper is available online if you are interested http://www.build-africa.org/data/files/transition_paper_jan_30th.pdf

Warm wishes,

Libby James

Programme Officer, Build Africa


Primary to secondary transition

Thanks for your reply Libby, and thank you for the paper. 

Of course, my post over-simplified the complex issues involved. I'm in agreement that primary to secondary transition is a huge problem in education systems globally, and a neglected area. My reason for raising the issue of refugees is the importance behind breaking the refugee connotations and actually achieving results to match the rights rhetoric e.g. reconstruction of home countries upon repatriation. 

Yes, there are contexts where host country nationals are receiving poor education, however I think it is presumed that this filters to the refugee community. I also think it is dangerous and somewhat contradictory of human rights declarations to imply that refugees should have fewer opportunities. UNHCR's education review (2011) highlights countries in which the refugee community are actually enrolled in greater numbers. Of course, enrolment does not neceaarily mean attendance. 

The relevance of the education is also an issue as you mention. This is another gap in the achieving the RTE. An area of research interest is language of instruction and something I tackled in my MA dissertation. 

I've recently started a blog (www.globaleducationdevelopment.blogspot.com), it would be great to continue such discussions there. 

Best wishes,


Refugee children requiring special attention

Sadia A wrote:

I also think it is dangerous and somewhat contradictory of human rights declarations to imply that refugees should have fewer opportunities.

You raise a really good point, Sadia, about the 'invisibility' of refugees and asylum-seekers in all aspects of education programming.  International human rights treaties apply to all individuals, whether they are citizens or not, and access to education for refugee children should not be less favourable than it is to citizens. 

Article 22 of the Refugee Convention (1951) states that:

  • The Contracting States shall accord to refugees the same treatment as is accorded to nationals with respect to elementary education.
  • The Contracting States shall accord to refugees treatment as favourable as possible, and, in any event, not less favourable than that accorded to aliens generally in the same circumstances, with respect to education other than elementary education and, in particular, as regards access to studies, the recognition of foreign school certificates, diplomas and degrees, the remission of fees and charges and the award of scholarships.

However, the reality is that the education of refugee children is not on par with the provision of education of citizens.  Many States do not even collect data on the enrollment /attendance of refugee children.  In order for refugee children to be effectively included into planning processes, this information must be considered.  Once this data is collected (either by States or NGOs), then an assessment can be made as to whether or not the provision of education to refugee children is on par with the education of citizens.  This, I think, is where the advocacy argument should focus.

Education of girls/women

A large gap lies in the education of girls in comparison to boys.  There are fascinating and somewhat distrubing statistics about the gap in education of girls in the Middle East here:.  http://www.prb.org/Publications/PolicyBriefs/EmpoweringWomenDevelopingSocietyFemaleEducationintheMiddleEastandNorthAfrica.aspx 

It is important to note that progress has been made on this gap, but in many developing countries, the education of girls lags severely behind that of boys.

The World Bank has additional information:  http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:20298916~menuPK:617572~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282386,00.html

Education of girls/women

You are right! It is now politically correct to publish figures. There are so many statistics focusing on access; it is quite confusing! but it is so easy for most governements to send the children in school regardless of infrastructure,  safety of environment, teachers, distance, curricula, etc... We need mecanisms put in place to retain the girls at school for them to learn and succeed. For this political will, concrete actions should replace rethorics for an education system that takes into account the needs of both boys and girls, men and women

Minimum Age Legislation

There are many gaps that still need to be addressed in education and I thought I'd share one that the Right to Education Project is working on.   When States report periodically to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, they must report on legislation concerning the minimum age to leave school, enter into employment, get married and be criminally responsible.  Each of these factors affects a child's right to education and their right to develop fully.

RTE recently published a report on the lack of consistency of minimum age legislation globally - At What Age? ...are school-children employed, married, and taken to court?.  The report analyses the legal minimum ages across 187 countries, drawing on 18 years of reporting under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and raises questions about the cross-section of these issues and how they affect education.  Here are some interesting findings from the report:

  • only 60 out of 187 States set the minimum ages for entering employment and for completing compulsory education at the same level as each other
  • at least 74 countries have no absolute minimum age for marriage
  • in 44 States girls can marry earlier than boys -  frequently before completing their compulsory education
  • in at least 142 countries children may be taken to court and risk imprisonment for criminal acts between 6 and 15 years old, which often overlaps with the age range for compulsory education.

My question to this discussion thread, is - How can we better use this data to advocate for greater consistency in legislation concerning minimum ages and eliminate this gap?

The government should be
  1. The government should be more committed in delivering its responsibilities and making education available to every child.

  2. Strong will and oversight on the part of the administrative structures responsible for making education available. There should be proper monitoring and evaluation from the authorities so that the loopholes in the system can be addressed.

  3. Resource crunch to be tackled. There is always a disparity between the central and the state government on the allocation of funds to school. Hence there is a need for increase in allocation of resources to states.

  4. Participation of children in making of policies and programmes as children themselves can share their problems and suggest ways to make the system more effective.


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