IGAD Working to Enhance Access to Quality Education for Refugees, Returnees

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March 28/2022/ENA/ The intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is working to enhance access to quality education for refugees and returnees in the region.

The 3rd Conference of IGAD Ministers in Charge of Education kicked off today in Addis Ababa to discuss on the plight of refugees  in terms of access to education.  

It was indicated that the IGAD region is known for its huge population of refugees, and internally displaced persons.

Recent estimate indicates that the region hosts more than 14 million displaced people, excluding voluntary migrants.   

This includes 4.2 million refugees and 9.6 million IDPs, especially those being forcibly displaced from their villages in some of the IGAD member state due to conflicts.

IGAD Education Programs, Coordinator Dr. Kebede Kassa said Education is not mainstreamed program for long time in IGAD. However, the Declaration of Djibouti became the regional framework after 2017 and regarded as part of the policy framework.

In December, 2017 IGAD organized the first high level regional conference of Ministers in charge of Education in Djibouti.  That conference adopted the Djibouti Declaration and plan of action on education for refugees, returnees and host communities.

The objective of the conference is to review progress made in the implementation of the Djibouti Declaration and the Addis Ababa Action plan on education for refugees, returnees and host communities, Dr. Kebede added.

“Refugee education is an integral part of the education system so that refugees can be included in the education system in every country so that everyone can receive education without discrimination. Because they are not different people, even if they change places, they are citizens of our continent so that they can have access to education as citizens.”

According to the coordinator, the Djibouti Declaration emphasized on inclusion of refugees and returnees into national education systems with a multi-year costed plan of action.

The deceleration also provides access to higher education and TVET/post-secondary skills and competencies, accreditation and certification of education among others.   

The today’s session is aimed at reviewing the progress made so far in terms of implementing the declaration and ensure access to education for refugees, returnees and host communities and the way forward, Schools Improvements Director General at the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, Yohanes Wogaso said.

The program is being implemented in five areas in Ethiopia where refugees of various neighboring countries are sheltered, he added.

“As a country, there are 5 routes that we can handle refugees. The first is Gambella, the second is Benishangul-Gumuz, the third and fourth are Somali and Afar regions respectively while the final one Tigray region. We are establishing schools in these areas, providing training to the teachers and education services.”

Ethiopia is a signatory to this declaration. This means that any immigrant child and youth coming to Ethiopia will be able to access all the education that Ethiopian citizens receive in a fair and equitable manner.

The meeting is expected to come up with clear understanding of the pace/state of implementation of the Djibouti Declaration and its action plan, adoption of directives for the next three years (2022-2025 and concrete commitment of the partners to support the declaration.