Even though nations around the world have signed treaties and passed legislation guaranteeing the right to basic education for the children of refugees and asylum seekers, the majority of these children in many countries remain uneducated.
Carol Anne Spreen, assistant professor in the Social Foundations program, has focused her recent research on this issue, primarily concentrating in the country of South Africa.
“South Africa has passed legislation guaranteeing the right to basic education of refugees and asylum seekers,” she says. “Yet, our preliminary research found that a significant number of refugee and asylum-seekers’ households in the Johannesburg area were not sending their children to school, and the vast majority were not aware of their education rights. We also learned of serious violations and barriers preventing the attainment of the right to education of migrants in schools and communities around the country.”
Working with the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg, Spreen hopes her work will help both migrants and the public at large become more aware of education rights and hold schools and the state responsible for education rights violations.
Spreen has become an advocate for international education rights, working with the Right to Education Project in the UK, and on the United Nation’s Human Rights Working Group.
“As a socially engaged researcher, I have had a strong commitment to social justice and challenging inequality by advocating for rights in education,” Spreen says.
Her advocacy extends locally as well. Last fall, she worked with the U.Va. Law School and the Women’s Center to host a workshop on the Right to Education for Refugees in Virginia.
Read about other initiatives Carol Anne is involved in: