Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Sunday, October 24, 1999 Published at 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK


UK

Child asylum seekers 'denied education'

United Nations says all children have a right to education

Hundreds of child asylum seekers are being deprived of schooling in breach of international rules giving them the right to education, it has been claimed.

Local authorities say they are struggling to bear the burden of finding school places for a massive influx of children fleeing to Britain.

A survey found that 500 children of refugees and asylum seekers in the Kent port of Dover alone were not receiving any kind of education.

The Home Office is holding urgent discussions with the Department for Education and local education authorities to rectify the problem, after concerns were raised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Education a 'right'

"This is something that we are taking a serious interest in. We have met with the Home Office to discuss this issue and have received an undertaking that it will be looked at," said a UNHCR spokeswoman.


[ image: Will their future be in the UK?]
Will their future be in the UK?
"The UN convention on the rights of the child says all children have the right to education. Refugees must also be accorded the same rights as citizens of the country they are in - these children must receive schooling.

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said the allegations were a blow to the government's credibility on immigration issues.

"The government's policy on asylum seekers is already under wide-ranging attack.

"News that children also being considered for asylum or already accepted are being refused education is just the latest embarrassment."

Two-year wait for school

The study, carried out by the makers of a BBC Radio 4 documentary Strangers on the Shore - to be aired on 25 October at 2000 BST - found that an influx of asylum seekers and refugees into Kent had left education bosses unable to cope.

Officials at the Home Office said measures to ensure schooling facilities are made available to child refugees and asylum seekers were being included in the Immigration and Asylum Bill currently going through Parliament.

Some children in Dover, where many asylum seekers are Romany gypsies who have fled Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are still waiting for a school place after two years, the programme says.

One nine-year-old Slovakian boy, who has waited six months for an offer of schooling, said: "I am sad because I am bored. The only time I can go to something that looks like school is a church where we play and learn English.

"But that's only on Tuesday - the rest of the week I watch telly. I have nowhere to play."

Kent bears brunt

Kent County Council is setting up a team to help immigrant children to integrate into the education system.


[ image: Dover alone has 500 refugee children]
Dover alone has 500 refugee children
Council leader Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said: "We have written to the government asking for decisions on asylum seekers to be taken more quickly.

"It is not fair on teachers or children to put pupils in a school when they do not know how much longer they will be there."

Dover and the Kent have borne the brunt of the increase in the number of asylum seekers. An estimated 5,000 are currently living in the region at a cost of £14m in the current year.

But more than 80,000 asylum seekers are expected in the year to April 2000 - compared to the original government forecast of 58,000.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

21 Oct 99†|†UK
Child refugees on the rise

20 Oct 99†|†UK Politics
Lords defeat for asylum vouchers

18 Oct 99†|†UK Politics
Asylum plans 'against natural justice'

23 Aug 99†|†UK Politics
Talks to speed up asylum system





Internet Links


Home Office

Kent County Council

Immigration and Asylum Bill

UNHCR


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online