As a founding partner of the Refugee and Migration Education Network, SIMI recently attended the conference on Refugee and Migrant Education hosted at the Pontifical Georgian University in Rome titled Initiatives in Refugee and Migrant Education-Moving Forward, Diving Deeper, Together.

The challenges facing the Refugee and Migration Network since the pandemic are numerous, the estimated number of displaced people having surpassed 100 million alongside the economic and social effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The event held during the 26th to the 28th of September was therefore crucial to the resumption of in-person collaborative efforts and intellectual exchanges held in conjugation with partner institutions, fellow academics, and religious and spiritual leaders in order to address contemporary migration issues in a format not possible since the 2020 pandemic.

The event included workshops addressing the discrepancies in educational achievement and access for refugee women and girls led by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Gender Responsive Education Specialist Jill Drzewiecki as well as an accompanying plenary on the state of education for migrants and refugees in the context of global migration patterns, climate change, and conflicts with Keynote speaker Fr. Tom Smolich SJ, International director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. In addition, panels were held touching on the subjects of global perspectives in education, the status of education within Ukrainian refugees in western Europe, the status and progress of the UNHCR’s 15by30 roadmap, as well as the influence and role of university networks in the expansion of refugee access to education in addition to personal conversations with refugee student leaders addressing their lived experiences surrounding access to higher education.

The conference concluded with a closing plenary by the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi as well as a private audience with Pope Francis on the Vatican grounds who echoed sentiments expressed at the conference, that “every educational institution is called to be a place of welcome to the exclusion of none”.

Luca Agostini