Between promise and reality: what right to education for refugee and asylum seeking children?

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Melchiorre, Angela
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Everything seems to be simple and plain: there is a right, there are obligations deriving from it, there is a State transforming them into practice. But we all know that it is not always either that simple or that plain. If we consider the right to education, for example, on paper its contents, objectives and features are clear: it is not only a self-contained right but also a prerequisite for all other rights; it must be granted to all without discrimination; States have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill it, taking into account the best interest of the child. Still, in practice, conditional factors impede its full realization, especially in the case of vulnerable persons like refugee and asylum seeking children. Special needs and specific situations should be considered, practical obstacles should be overcome, political will and commitment should be assured. The purpose of this paper is to consider to what extent promises held in the international provisions on the right to education can be kept in national realities dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. The example of Denmark is intended to illustrate that even in a democratic society with a good educational system for refugee and asylum seeking children, full respect of all the requirements of the right to education cannot be guaranteed. Only when human rights considerations are given priority over economic, social and political interests, then promises will become reality.
Second semester University: The Danish Centre for Human Rights, Odense University [University of Southern Denmark].
asylum seekers, children's rights, refugees, right to education