February is the month in which we celebrate International Mother Language Day.
In the field of refugee education, this day has particular significance as language is often one of the first obstacles faced by refugee children who have to adapt to a new school environment without mastering the main learning medium.
Policies and provision of language instruction for refugees vary across countries. Current practices of inclusion within national education systems only partially attend to refugees’ linguistic needs and many countries struggle to provide appropriate language support for new arrivals. Language-ofinstruction issues thus impact millions of refugee children, contributing to low academic achievement and high drop-out rates.
In response to refugee influxes, host country education systems are forced to use whatever learning resources are readily available. In such contexts, refugee teachers are a key resource, and it is essential to support them as they have the potential and most often an incredible will to contribute to the education of children in their community - and in the host community - to support their integration (see next page: Cameroonian refugee teachers in Chad).
Fluency in the local language not only impacts the ability to learn, but also influences the pace and degree of social and cultural cohesion with the host community that is so essential to adapting to a new context. It is therefore the cornerstone of an effective inclusive refugee education policy.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees