Between the 13th and 17th of December 2019, the European Students’ Union (ESU) and the Organising Bureau of European School Students Unions (OBESSU) hosted the “Global Student Voices: Migration and Education” forum in Geneva, Switzerland. This meeting took place in parallel with the first-ever Global Refugee Forum organised by the UNHCR, a three-day global gather heads of States, governments, UN leaders, international institutions, development organizations, business leaders, civil society representatives and refugees with the aim of transforming the way the world responds to refugee situations.
Education was one of the key topics of the event. However, while only 24% of refugees enrol in secondary education and that figure drastically drops to 3% for enrollment in higher education worldwide (UNHCR, 2019), students & students with refugee/migrant background are most of the time not included in the decision making-processes on topics which fully concern them.
We decided to organise our own space for discussion in order to give more visibility to students. With a cross-continental group of students coming from Africa, North and South America, Asia-Pacific, Middle-East and Europe, we shared practices, ideas, challenges and solutions that, we, as student organisations, refugee student organisations and activists can bring to educational institutions.
After three-days discussions, as students with diverse continental, national and local realities and different educational and cultural backgrounds, we reached a common consensus publishing a first collective set of demands for refugees and migrants’ education. The aims are to change the political narrative from addressing a “refugee crisis” to addressing an “educational crisis” and to provide comprehensive and tangible actions towards improving transparency and educational and social inclusion in immigration law and improving access to quality education and safe and secure living conditions. The role of student unions and relevant organisations in building solidarity and cohesion is emphasized as the means towards achieving social inclusion and equality. The latter is essential in the path towards responding to today’s global educational, humanitarian, democratic and climate crisis.
While Martina Darmanin, ESU Human Right Coordinator, had the opportunity to present our Students Demands at the Global Refugee Forum, we also had the possibility to present in-depth the students’ perspective during a panel discussion organised by the University of Geneva – were our contribution was warmly welcomed!
More information on the work of the student representatives present at the Global Students’ Voices Forum may be found here: