Education International calls on governments to improve protection for migrants

On International Migrants Day, Education International reaffirms its commitment to defend and promote the rights of migrant workers and refugees as well as migrant and refugee teachers and education personnel.

Education International (EI) and Global Unions call on Governments to ratify and implement United Nations (UN), International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and other international instruments to protect migrant workers’ rights and, especially, their right to join and form trade unions.

The recent adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, orderly and Regular Migration at the Intergovernmental Conference in Morocco on 10-11 December was a ground-breaking agreement in international migration governance. This agreement is not legally binding, but provide a framework for international cooperation on migration.

In addition, there is a Global Compact on Refugees, which does not replace the 1951 UN Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol on Refugees.

Ensuring migrants’ access to quality public services

“Education Is an important in the new Global Compact for Migration, and so are the other human rights of migrants,” EI General Secretary David Edwards highlighted, also insisting on the importance of a whole-of-society approach to migration at local and national levels.

Edwards also underlined that host and transit countries should ensure migrants’ access to quality public services, in particular, their access to quality public education regardless of their migration status: “We should make our education systems, schools and all education institutions more inclusive, sensitive and responsive to the needs of migrant children and youth. Governments need to ensure that the curriculum and learning materials reflect the ever increasing diversity of the student population, and are developed with the full involvement of educators and their unions. Furthermore, Governments should work, in cooperation with education unions, to enable the recognition of the qualifications of migrant and refugee teachers.”

Addressing the root causes of migration and displacement

Noting that “the Global Compact offers a much-needed encouragement for Member States to work with other nations, the UN, trade unions, civil society organisations and others, to tackle the pressing challenges related to international migration,” Edwards stressed that this agreement “provides an opportunity for the UN and governments to address the root causes of migration and displacement. The UN, its agencies and governments need to prevent and tackle conflict head on; to combat conflict, violence, poverty, climate change and its devastating consequences on the environment and human life; and to deal with economic inequities within and across countries and regions.”

Edwards added that, “ensuring peace and political stability and improving socio-economic conditions in home countries will make migration an option rather a necessity for millions of people on the move. Let’s remember that people have the freedom to move and the right to migrate, but shouldn’t be forced to do so by circumstances beyond their control.”

Making a real difference in the lives of migrant workers on the ground

Finally, the EI leader acknowledged that “the ultimate measure of the success of the Global Compact will be whether it makes a real difference in the lives of migrant workers on the ground by ensuring freedom of association, their rights to form and join trade unions, to social protection and to engage in collective bargaining.  Through their unions and communities, many migrant workers will continue to organise and mobilise. The Global Compact should be supportive as a vehicle to promote decent work, economic and social justice.”

A blog post by Sajjad Khakasari, 'From activism to exile: growing up as the son of leading Iranian trade union activist', has been released for International Migrants Day and can be found here