In September 2021 the Secretariat of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) was pleased to co-convene a virtual workshop with the International Detention Coalition (IDC), focused on access to education for refugee and migrant. This is the latest event as part of the ongoing Regional Peer-Learning Platform and Program of Learning and Action on Alternatives to Detention of Children.
The focus of the workshop was on the benefits to both society and the individual of allowing access to education for refugee and migrant children as part of community based alternatives to child detention. Although participating countries all have unique national contexts, the discussions found there remain many opportunities to learn from each other.
At the virtual workshop, around 50 participants came from operational and policy agencies in governments in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand, as well as national and international civil society groups.
During open discussion, some of the benefits of education access exchanged included lifting socially excluded children out of poverty and into society, narrowing the gender gap for girls and women. For displaced children, education is not only vital for their own futures, but also the communities in which they live, bringing greater cohesion and inter-cultural understanding. If children are accessing education they and their family are more likely to learn the local language, contribute to productive society, and it also reduces their vulnerability to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
The Peer-Learning Platform aims to provide space for practical discussion about what approaches have been effective, where challenges have been overcome and what more support could be required. This workshop follows on from a successful in person roundtable in November 2019 in Thailand, and a subsequent virtual roundtable on mainstreaming child protection, held in December 2020, and on case management approaches, in May 2021.
Organisers welcomed participants from a number of Education Ministries to the session, all of whom were attending for the first time, and brought a great deal of knowledge and relevant perspectives to the discussion. We look forward to continuing to build the Regional Peer-Learning Platform over the coming months.
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