Six key messages on the protection of the right to education of people in situations of mobility in the context of COVID-19

The Education and Human Mobility Working Group and the Regional Office of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) call on the countries of the region to not forget the spirit of the 2030 Agenda: “leaving no one behind”. Specifically, to not exclude people in situations of mobility within the emergency educational responses that are implemented in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Education and Human Mobility Working Group brings together technical teams dedicated to human mobility issues from the Ministries of Education of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru. It was created after the Regional Forum “Education Beyond Borders” organized by UNESCO in August 2019, with the technical secretariat of OREALC/UNESCO Santiago and the support of UNESCO Education specialists of the region.

This working group has developed six messages from the coordination and technical dialogue that OREALC/UNESCO Santiago has promoted to deal with the health emergency. They are based on the exchange of experiences of the member countries group and seek to contribute to strengthening the educational response that the region faces due to the closure of schools and the challenges associated with ensuring that learning is not interrupted.

The host countries within the region, as well as those affected by the mobility of migrants and refugees, have made significant efforts to guarantee the provision of educational opportunities to this priority group. With the aim of expanding these efforts, the technical teams of the member countries of the Group have identified these six key messages to guarantee the right to education for people on the move in Latin America and the Caribbean:

The irregular migratory situation may hinder or impede access to the complementary services that are being provided in the context of the current health situation. It is important to monitor the access of the population in a mobility situation to these services and benefits (food, hygiene services, health sector, etc.) and take the necessary actions to guarantee their access, regardless of their migratory situation.
Considering that the current health emergency blurs the situation of displaced persons, it is also important to give relevance to the lessons learned from the educational response to this priority group. In this sense, the need for greater flexibility in educational systems that allows us to anticipate changing scenarios must be emphasized in policies.
We must start thinking about strategies that allow the educational experience to continue after the crisis is over (strategies to return to schools once they re-open), especially considering the situation of young people in mobility who may have dropped out of school during the crisis.
Given that the emergency changes the focus of the Ministries’ priorities, it is essential to strengthen the planning capacities of the technical teams that work on issues of human mobility within them. In this sense, strategies that allow to resume programs and planning that were in progress become essential.
It is essential to link the educational response with other types of responses currently being implemented, such as shelters that provide protection to migrants and refugees implemented by local governments. This link, in turn, identifies a priority population that may not be accessing the e-learning solutions implemented by the Ministries of Education.
Socio-emotional education must be considered within the educational inputs and resources offered by the ministries of Education. For this, it is essential that the different educational actors receive tools that can be included in distance education platforms or programs.
These key messages highlight that the 2030 Education Agenda stands as strongly as ever in this period of crisis, and they call on us to keep the focus on those who are most vulnerable and marginalized. We recognize through these messages the continuous commitment and concrete actions of the countries that constitute this coordination group.