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UNHCR supports the right of refugees to education

ASTANA, Kazakhstan. September 1, 2017 (UNHCR) – The first day of September is the day when all schools in the Republic of Kazakhstan open their doors to children regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity and social status. This day 17 refugee and asylum-seeking children have started their studies as the 1st grade students. Refugee and asylum seeking children have access to free primary and secondary education on an equal basis with citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in Kazakhstan.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as of 1 July 2017, there are 596 refugees and 154 asylum-seekers residing in the Republic of Kazakhstan. 177 of them are children of school age. All of these children are in schools thanks to the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan to promote equal access to primary and secondary education for all.

UNHCR supports the Government’s efforts through providing multipurpose cash grants in partnership with the Kazakhstan Red Crescent Society to the most vulnerable refugee and asylum seeking families to ensure that all children have access to education. The grant covers the cost of school uniforms, books, stationary, bridging trainings and language classes. Access of these children to education is vital for ensuring refugee rights, equal opportunities in the future, including finding a descent work and better prospects for integration.

In addition to ensuring access to primary and secondary education, UNHCR encourages refugees and asylum-seekers to get life-long education and further trainings. UNHCR facilitates access of refugees and asylum-seekers to international educational web-platform Coursera (www.coursera.org) that allows refugees and asylum-seekers to enhance their knowledge and develop new skills free of charge. The portal offers 3,000 courses covering a wide spectrum of fields of Humanities, Social and Life Sciences, Business, Computer Science, Math and Logic, Personal Development, and Languages. This new learning opportunity was introduced to refugees and asylum-seekers in Kazakhstan in August 2017 and some of refugees have already enrolled in the courses of their choice.

Access to education for all without discrimination resonates with the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, to ‘leave no one behind’, as well as with Kazakhstan obligations under international human rights instruments, including the 1951 Convention on the status of Refugees and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.