Measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people [or 65.3 million people] globally is now either an asylum seeker, internally displaced or a refugee—putting them at an unprecedented level of risk. (UNHCR, Global Trends). Approximately 12.4 million people were displaced due to conflict or persecution, and asylum applicants by unaccompanied minors tripled in one year reaching a record of 98,400. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
Statelessness, the lack of a nationality, distresses an individual, community and region. Statelessness leaves individuals vulnerable to human rights violations; among these, the common violations are: the “right to life; the right to privacy; equality before the courts and tribunals; freedom of opinion and religion; and retention of language, culture, and tradition” (Sokoloff, 2005, p.14) as well as the right to education.
For refugees and asylum seekers, stressors involved in displacement, their individual journeys—events of trauma, sometimes torture, migration experiences, and disruption—create dispositions of distress and distrust, seclusion, helplessness and hostility. Effects on community functioning also include creation of orphans or children with detained parents as well as normalization of violence as a means of conflict resolution. (Anne Dutton: Community Strategies for Healing War Trauma: The Bhutanese Refugee Experience)
Globally, refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs remark that a “lack of meaningful work is undermining [their] sense of well-being.” In a world where we assume when someone is in need it is because they are not trying hard enough, when those whom are marginalized are dependent on a system that does not catch them, not because a system is broken, but because they are indolent, therefore their losses are their own loss, “not our problem.” These are administrations that break down and marginalize, keep independently displaced persons dependent on their borders, refugees and asylum seekers searching beyond their control.
Long-term dependency amidst climates of distress, distrust, fear and isolation wage a detrimental impact on mental health. This growing phenomenon of refugees living in limbo with restrictions on the ability to be productive is referred to as “refugee warehousing”, a phenomenon that frequently causes feelings of despair and hopelessness while denying refugees the opportunity to make positive contributions to their host communities.
Recurrently, governments deny citizenship to people rightfully entitled to it through legal norms, including language, ancestry, residency/income requirements and discriminatory election laws. Administrative harassment is “an effective means of discouraging people from regularizing their situation or claiming their rights” and is another mechanism of denial (Sokoloff, 2005, 25). Administrations, governments need to uphold a rights-based approach to migrants and refugees, as provided for in the normative framework of the UN Migrant Workers Convention, the International Labour Organisation’s Conventions on Migrant Workers (C97 and C143) and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
To prevent the collapse of fragile states, “countries need a critical mass of educated people in order to work out and implement a reform strategy.” (Basic Education Coalition)
Importance of Education
Refugee children are the highest forcibly displaced population in the world. Children are at risk of forced labor, child marriage, sexual exploitation, recruitment by armed militia and other violations of rights (Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 1990). 50 percent of refugee children are enrolled in primary education, twenty-five percent are estimated to be in secondary school and one percent have access to tertiary education (UNHCR). Education is a basic human right, protected in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1951 Refugee Convention. In crisis situations, education offers children safe spaces for learning and provides a sense of normalcy, stability, and hope.
For migrants, a person’s earnings increase by 10% for each year of school completed. Each year of education for males reduces the risk of their becoming involved in conflict by 20%. When an educated woman’s income increases, she will reinvest 90 percent of the income back into her family; she will also achieve further influence within the household.
Individuals with a primary education are 1.5 times more likely to vote in support of a just democracy than those without an education; those with a secondary education are 3 times more likely to vote for a democracy.
“In times of displacement, education is crucial. It can foster social cohesion, provide access to life-saving information, address psychosocial needs, and offer a stable and safe environment for those who need it most. It also helps people to rebuild their communities and pursue productive, meaningful lives.” (UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency)