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Enhancing Refugee Protection – Exploring the role of Education

Open Lecture by Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

* A UN Career Seminar will be held for those interested in working opportunities with International Organisations

Filippo Grandi United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Date: Sunday 19 November 2017
Time: 15:00-17:00 (Doors oepn 14:30)
Venue: Sophia Tower 1F (Room 101), Sophia University

Time Schedule:
15:00-15:05 Opening Remarks President Yoshiaki Terumichi, Sophia University
15:05-15:35 Lecture Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
15:35-16:05 Sharing of experiences by RHEP students and graduates
16:05-16:25 Discussion / Questions and Answers
16:30-17:00 UN Career Seminar
  Please download the flyer from here.

Co-organised by: UNHCR Representation in Japan, Japan for UNHCR, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RHEP partner universities: Kwansei Gakuin University, Aoyama Gakuin University, Meiji University, Tsuda University, Soka University, Sophia University, Meiji Gakuin University, University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo
Supported by: Ministry of Education , Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (tbc)
Language: Japanese and English (simultaneous interpretation available)
Registration: Free of charge, Pre-registration required

Inquiry related to registration:Sophia University, PR Group(
Inquiry related to the content of the lecture:UNHCR Representation in Japan(03-3499-2011)

The number of people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes has again reached a record-high number, with discussions of the need for a unified international response drawing global attention. Large movements of refugees and migrants have global political, economic, social, developmental, humanitarian and human rights ramifications, and the challenges posed by these movements affect communities worldwide. The movements’ complex and multi-layered nature requires the international community, including Japan, to join in solidarity and mutual cooperation, as the burdens cannot be borne by one country, or one region.

In response to the crises, the UN Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants was held in September 2016, resulting in the adoption of the ‘New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants’, by the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirming the commitments of states for international responsibility sharing and cooperation. This Declaration calls for the implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), designed to provide a more systematic and sustainable response and long-term planning for durable solutions for refugees; and one of the key focuses in the framework is education.

Turning to integration of refugees into a society, education is one of the key factors in the reconstruction of refugees’ lives and empowering them to utilise their own skills and knowledge in a new environment. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention and international human rights law, education is defined as a basic human right, and UNHCR considers the improvement of refugees’ access to education a priority; and for this purpose, has formed partnerships with educational institutions across the globe and continues to engage in efforts improving access to and quality of education for refugees.

Meanwhile, in Japan, universities have taken the lead and started to implement the UNHCR Refugee Higher Education Programme (RHEP) providing valuable higher education opportunities to refugees. Since its inception in 2007, the programme has continued to grow and is now implemented by eight universities. The contributions made by various diverse actors of the international community including Japan are key to achieving real and substantial change for the situation faced by refugees, both in long-term humanitarian programmes and in responding to emergencies. From this perspective, the roles played by RHEP partner universities are crucial.

Globally, factors such as the protraction of conflicts have caused a significant increase in the number of children and youths who do not have access to education, with over 3.5 million refugee children aged 5 to 17 unable to attend school in the last academic year. As for tertiary education, fewer than one percent of refugee youths attend university, compared to 34 percent of youths globally. Education is often viewed as lower in priority in an emergency; however, not only is education a basic human right, it is a means to promote the physical and psychological development of children, and assists in the healing process of those affected by conflict through providing opportunities for communication and cooperation.

In the longer term, the younger generation will play a significant role in rebuilding communities recovering from conflict. Providing education to younger generations is crucial in the reconstruction and building of peaceful societies, and in the growth of the economy and cultures. In this context, in 2016, the Japanese Government announced that Japan is accepting 150 Syrian students in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. This autumn, Syrian refugee students undertook Japanese language courses and successfully started their studies at graduate universities in Japan under the Japan Initiative for the future of Syrian Refugees (JISR) programme. Such initiatives of Japan are highly regarded by the international community as an embodiment of international solidarity. In what ways can the long-term support in education of refugees be enhanced, and how can Japan contribute? To explore the role education can play in the context of refugee protection and integration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi will engage in dialogue with the audience at this open lecture.


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