ZongoNews Editorial: Global Education – International Migrant Destinations (Part 2)

Lesley Shepperson

In the previous article, we mentioned that an estimated 244 million people do not live in the country that they were born in and that nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in Europe or Asia. Of these, 34 million were born in Africa.

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The available demographics of migrating people are interesting. According to United Nations Population Facts, international migrants living in Africa are the youngest with a median age of 29, followed by Asia (35 years) and Latin America and the Caribbean (36 years). Globally, it is estimated that 72% of migrants are of working age and between the ages of 20 and 64 years. This is an important statistic to consider as all too often the perceived negative consequences for recipient countries and areas are promoted rather than potential mutual benefits.

Along with those that are of working age, 12% of international migrants are thought to be over 65 and 15% below the age of 20. Educationally, these figures give serious cause for concern. For those displaced by conflict, UNESCO recognise that it has caused, in its own words, ‘an education crisis’ citing that ‘millions of children and youth have been forced out of school due to conflict’ and that in the region of 42% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries’. It goes on to state that ‘with the increasing average duration of the crises, and educational services under strain, the future of these children and youth is uncertain’.

In a general conference document, UNESCO states that one of its Sustainable Development Goal Targets for Education in relation to Education in emergencies is to seek to strengthen and consolidate global coordination and intervention in countries in emergencies.

For those that migrate, where are they migrating to? According to United Nations estimates, the top 12 destination hotspots are 1.United States, 2.Germany, 3.Russian Federation, 4.Saudi Arabia, 5.United Kingdom, 6.United Arab Emirates (largest migrant share of the total population), 7.Canada, 8.France, 9.Australia, 10.Spain, 11.Italy, and 12.India (smallest migrant share of the total population).

There are many schools of thought concerning the purpose of education. Some say that it is about skills development for employment and positive economic and social contribution to the wider society, whilst others say its goal is day to day survival and others promote the ability to exercise informed freedom of choice for the betterment of self and the wider community. Whatever the view point, one of the challenges faced by migrating people is that of an unfamiliar and or inaccessible education system.

Within the United States, children begin their schooling at the age of 6 entering primary/elementary school for 6 years before going on to secondary school for another 6 years obtaining a diploma or certificate and graduating. After graduation, students can then go on to college or university, which is referred to as higher education.

The US Office of Migrant Education is part of the US Department of Education and provides information and guidance for migrating people and educational institutions. Two of their aims are to provide technical assistance and financial support to improve the educational opportunities and academic success of migrant children, youth, agricultural workers, fishers and their families.


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