Implementing the Djibouti Declaration: Education for refugees, returnees & host communities
Submitted by: Kebede Kassa Tsegaye, PhD, Senior Coordinator, IGAD Education Programs
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Eastern and Horn of Africa. IGAD is one of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of the African Union in the eastern and horn of Africa. IGAD is composed of eight member states, namely: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
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Introduction to the project
December 2017 - Ongoing
The Djibouti Declaration on education for refugees, returnees and host communities thrives to reach Objective 2 of the compact : enhance refugee self-reliance. It puts emphasis on quality and inclusive education and aims at ensuring self-sufficiency. Children, young people and adults with a quality education and proper skills development will have a brighter future. It also calls for life-long and continuous learning through its emphasis on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and post-secondary training as well as non-formal learning opportunities.
Access to all these opportunities is key to success for the generations to come. In this regard, the Djibouti Declaration and the sectoral policies (like the Regional Qualifications Framework (RQF) and TVET strategy are vital instruments preparing refugees for the success of future generations.
In general, the Djibouti Declaration of IGAD can be seen as a major political commitment that has relevance to all four objectives of the GRF.
- To foster a strong political will for a regional response to the alarming increase in the number of people forced to flee their homes.
- To create a conducive policy environment for the domestication and step-by-step implementation of international and regional initiatives on access to quality education for refugees, returnees and host communities in the context of CRRF, SDG4 and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
- To mobilize support for member states of the IGAD region in the spirit of responsibility sharing to ensure inclusion of refugees into national education systems and provide quality education, including skills and competencies for refugees, returnees and host communities.
- To create regular consultative regional platforms for sharing experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in facilitating access to refugee education.
Following the adoption of the Djibouti Declaration on education for refugees:
- Almost all IGAD member states have adopted policies and legal frameworks to allow refugees and returnees equitable access to education and training programs.
- Efforts are being made strengthen the capacity of member states to ensure inclusion of refugees into national education systems.
- Almost all member states have developed costed plan of actions though these need more refinement as the costing scenarios are changing due to price hikes in the region.
- Member states have undertaken reforms to provide refugees with documentation and identification services to enable refugees access to basic social services such as driving licences, bank accounts and registration in schools.
- Most member states have provided access to work spaces and job opportunities commensurate with the skills and qualifications of refugees.
- In many countries refugees are living in settlements as part of governments move away from ‘refugee camps although some still maintain the concept of camps.
- European Union
- The Government of Germany through GIZ
- World Bank
Challenges and how they were overcome
Some of the key challenges in the Implementation of the Djibouti Declaration on education for refugees, returnees and host communities include:
- limited capacity of member states (technical, financial and infrastructure) to fully realize their commitments articulated in the Declaration.
- problems of certifications and recognition of educational attainment of refugees.
- difficulties arising from language of instruction.
- national variations in educational systems.
The IGAD and member states are making considerable efforts to address these and other challenges through:
- strong advocacy and partnership building efforts to mobilize resource and augment the capacity of ministries of education and refugee management agencies;
- developing regional education qualifications frameworks ; and
- facilitating the adoption of policies that support the implementation of the Djibouti Declaration on education for refugees, returnees and host communities (e.g., IGAD Regional Education Policy Framework; IGAD TVET Strategy; and Inclusion Assessments)
- All these could be achieved with the active involvement of partners such as EU, GIZ (the Government of Germany); UNHCR, UNESCO, UNICEF, ECW, and others.
Results of the Good Practice
- The Djibouti Declaration on education for refugees, returnees and host communities managed to remove policy barriers and legal obstacles. It also generated common goals and collective responsibilities in responding to the refugee crises in the region, in particular to the problem of access to quality education by refugee children. Most importantly, it aimed at creating a harmonized space to integrate refugees into national education systems. Inclusion helps host countries to avoid fragmentation, build synergies, and ensure sustainability.
- The Djibouti Declaration also provided opportunities for strong partnership and development of shared responsibilities among host countries, regional organizations, development partners and other stakeholders.
- IGAD conducts field missions and holds conversations with different stakeholders which generate immense lessons and perspectives from refugees, returnees, and host communities in addition to the views from government authorities and implementing partners.
- Most importantly, it created a platform (through the governance structure created by the Declaration) for sharing best practices and lessons learnt. It also provides opportunities for refugee students and teachers to participate in these platforms and articulate their needs, expectations, challenges and the way forward.
The Project (implementation of the Djibouti Declaration) will continue for a long period of time. This is to ensure that member states translate their commitments into concrete action so that refugees, returnees, and host communities enjoy enhanced access to quality education and relevant skills for improved livelihoods.