Education is a fundamental human right owed to all people, especially children. The near-universal acceptance of this position is reflected in the numerous mechanisms of international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The importance of this right is of particular importance to children as it can significantly impact the rest of their lives, for better or worse. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and other more recent developments in international human rights law have emphasised the importance of educating children and insisted that denying them education is a gross violation of their rights. It is important that we recognise the large number of children currently denied education, the need to rectify the situation, and the challenges to providing educational opportunities to vulnerable populations.
According to UNICEF, approximately 50 million children are currently displaced by conflict and poverty, and Save the Children reports that approximately four million children are currently out of school due to displacement. In addition to the immediate need of finding basic safety, these children need access to educational opportunities. It is estimated that over 150 million children are working rather than going to school today, and an estimated 40 million are enslaved. Getting children out of slavery and labour and into classrooms is critical for their future. It is reported that 93% of women living in rural Afghanistan are unable to read or write. How do we reach them so that their rights as children, women, and humans are ensured?
Even if these are extreme examples of the challenges to providing education to vulnerable populations, they serve to raise issues relevant around the world. How do we overcome prejudice and bigotry in educational systems to ensure ALL children have access to opportunities? What impact does instability in the home or community have on education? How do migrants find education in host communities? And how can we ensure equitable, quality education for all children?
Further, it is not enough to simply provide nominal access to education. That education must be effective and equitable. How do we ensure that all children are receiving the same level of quality education, especially in situations of vulnerable students?
Dexter Da Silva
Dr Dexter Da Silva is currently Professor of Educational Psychology at Keisen University in Tokyo. He has taught EFL at junior high school, language schools, and universities in Sydney, Australia, and for more than two decades has been living, and teaching at the tertiary level, in Japan. Professor Da Silva was educated at the University of Sydney (BA, Dip. Ed., MA), and the University of Western Sydney (PhD). He has presented and co-presented at conferences in Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States, co-edited two books on Motivation in Foreign Language Learning, and written or co-written articles and book chapters on education-related topics, such as trust, student motivation, autonomy, and content-based language teaching. He is a past editor of On CUE Journal, past president of the Asian Psychological Association, regular reviewer for conferences, proceedings, journal articles and book chapters, and regularly co-chairs and participates in the Organising Committee of conferences on Motivation, Language Learning and Teaching, and Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences.
Dr Raz Shpeizer is currently a lecturer and pedagogical instructor at Kaye Academic College of Education, in Beer-Sheva, Israel. Born in Tel-Aviv, he graduated with a BA in Art and Philosophy and an MA in Philosophy from Tel-Aviv University. He then moved to Beer-Sheva, in the south of Israel, to gain his PhD in Philosophy from Ben-Gurion University. He was appointed a lecturer at Kaye Academic College of Education in 2011, and since then has taught both undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as conducting research. His fields of interest encompass general Philosophy, Philosophy of education, critical thinking, project-based learning, multiculturalism and qualitative methods of research.
Moneeba Mahmood is a first year PhD student at The Institute of Development Studies in the UK. Moneeba has previously worked exclusively in the development sector mainly on education, peace and conflict and women’s rights with a focus in South Asia, and youth employment and healthcare in the UK. She has worked and lived in Japan, Pakistan, Rwanda and Uganda. She is currently working as a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City on her PhD research focused on labour force participation for female medical doctors in urban Pakistan and how education translates into labour.
Brian served in the US military during multiple overseas operations, then joined the Peace Corps to work on economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. Brian also managed the refugee employment department of a resettlement agency, assisting refugees as they arrive in the United States. He has published articles on economic development and underdevelopment, as well as refugee law in Japan, and most recently presented on issues of human security at the International Conference on Peace and Conflict, hosted by the University of Delhi (India).
His undergraduate work was completed in the United States before beginning postgraduate studies in economics at the University of Glasgow. In 2017, Brian went back to school to study refugee law, earning his MA (Distinction) in Refugee Protection from the University of London. Brian is currently pursuing his doctorate at the International Christian University (ICU) in Japan, and serving as an adjunct lecturer at Keisen University and Oberlin University. His current research interests are in international law, particularly refugee and human rights law, and he is conducting research into legal protections for persons displaced by climate change.