Early childhood, Migration

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Education Support Program, Human Rights Initiative and Early Childhood Program, Open Society Foundations

Course date

15 July - 19 July, 2019
14 February, 2019
Course Director(s): 

Alison Hillman

Human Rights Initiative, Open Society Foundations, Washington D.C., United States of America

Tina Hyder

Early Childhood Program, Open Society Foundations, London, United Kingdom

Kate Lapham

Education Support Program, Open Society Foundations, Istanbul, Turkey
Course Manager: 

Almaz Ismayilova

Early Childhood Program, Open Society Foundations, London, United Kingdom

Judit Levenda

Educational Support Program, Open Society Foundations, Vienna, Austria

According to the UNHCR, approximately 67 million people are currently displaced around the world as a result of the unprecedented levels of armed conflict. Similarly, millions of people are migrating in search of better economic opportunities with about 258 million people now living in a country which is not the country of their birth.  Refugee and migrant children are often excluded from early childhood settings and schools alongside others who are also excluded on the grounds of disability, race, language, religion, gender, and poverty. But every child has the right to be supported by their parents and community to grow, learn, and develop in the early years, and to go to school and be welcomed and included by carers, teachers and peers alike.

Inclusive systems provide a better quality education for all children and are instrumental in changing discriminatory attitudes. Early childhood settings and schools provide the context for a child’s first relationship with the world outside their families, enabling the development of social relationships and interactions. However, inclusive education is conceptualized differently by different stakeholders, and is too often misunderstood as an approach to working exclusively with children with disabilities. This ignores the benefits of diversity for all children and denies the possibility of layers of identity. At the same time, civil society groups and human rights advocates often pursue education reform in terms of discrimination experienced by a single group. This has led to the documenting and litigating discrimination in education. Constituency-based organizing, however, can be challenging for refugees and people of migrant background who are themselves diverse and often do not have immediate access to the social capital networks in new places. Constituency-focused approaches can also be polarizing within education systems, playing to populist fears of reform where one group’s gains come at another’s expense.

This course is designed to bring together education and early years policy makers, researchers, and education and human rights advocates for constituencies likely to face discrimination in early childhood and school systems.  At the completion of the course participants will have gained:

1.    A deeper understanding of the current political, policy and financing priorities in Europe and the impacts on the access of refugees and migrants to high quality and inclusive early childhood and educational settings.

2.    Skills to frame advocacy for inclusive education in terms of a rights based approach, emphasising both accountability for non-discrimination and support for positive practices.

3.    Insight into the ways that migration, minority and linguistic status, gender, disadvantage and disability and other aspects of identity are constructed, including the ways that categorization, data collection and Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) can mitigate, monitor, or reinforce discrimination.

The course will take place at the Central European University campus in Budapest on July 15-19, 2019 and will be conducted in English. This course is not intended to satisfy particular degree requirements. Selected applicants will receive support for travel based on ability to pay.