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IBE-UNESCO and WCCES bring issues of migrants and displaced people to the fore of education research, policy, and practice

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Between 14-15 January 2019, the IBE hosted the second symposium of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES). Titled Migration and comparative education: Call for (re-)engagement, the event was a natural continuation of the UNESCO 2019 Global Monitoring Report on Migration, displacement, and education: Building bridges, not walls, whose launch was recently hosted by the IBE. 
 
The symposium was co-organized by the WCCES and the IBE, and made possible through the generous financial support of the Open Society Foundations.
 
More than 100 participants from all over the world came together to address the complexity of the migration phenomenon, and to bring issues of migrants and displaced people to the fore of the education research, policy, and practice.
 
The symposium began with a powerful keynote from Honorable Dr. António Manuel Seixas Sampaio da Nóvoa, Ambassador, Permanent Delegation of Portugal to UNESCO & Professor, University of Lisbon, entitled Migration, displacement, and education: Looking beyond the 2019 GEM report.
 
Eight full panels, most of which were organized as plenary sessions to allow maximum benefits for all participants, followed on related sub-themes: Experiential paradigm in the push-pull dynamics; Inhibiting and enabling factors in settling down process; Tragedy in migration; Primary and Secondary Education; Migrants in the education space; Dimension of higher education in migration; Proximity, distance and regional dimensions; Success stories in migration.
 
The symposium concluded with a valedictory speech by Professor Aïcha Maherzi, Chair of the WCCES Research Standing Committee, outgoing President of Mediterranean Society of Comparative Education (MESCE) and incoming President of Mondial Association for Peace by Comparative Education (MAPE) – one of the newly admitted constituent societies of WCCES. Entitled L’exclusion des migrants, the speech was followed by a moving poetry reading of her poem, A Gift of Peace.
 
A screening of the film Human Flow, directed by Ai Weiwei, a performance by the International School of Geneva’s Ubuntu Choir, and a tour of Palais des Nations, the United Nations Office in Geneva, made significant contributions to the Symposium.
 
The 54th Meeting of the WCCES Executive Committee was also successfully held before the start of the symposium, on the morning of January 14, 2019, with 17 comparative education societies represented at the meeting. IBE’s Dr. Simona Popa took part in the WCCES Executive Committee Meeting, as the Assistant Secretary-General of the WCCES.

The symposium presentations included poignant lived experiences, including hopeful notes of the success stories. Despite, or perhaps in part because of, the rough nature of the theme, the spirit of empathy, solidarity, and reaffirmation of our common humanity prevailed in an atmosphere of conviviality.
 
Selected conference papers and other possible contributions on migration and education will be published in a special volume in the WCCES/Brill series, edited by Professor Zehavit Gross, President of the Israel Comparative Education Society (ICES).  The call for chapters is available here: https://www.worldcces.org/wcces-symposium-geneva-14-15-jan-2019.html
 
The IBE would like to thank WCCES, the Executive Committee, participants in the Symposium, and especially WCCES President, Dr. N’Dri Assié-Lumumba, for her invaluable initiative and for her continuous efforts to re-connect the two organizations.
 
The IBE’s participation in these events is the latest development in a long-standing relationship with WCCES. The partnership of the two organizations spans many decades and, in fact, began well before the WCCES was founded in 1970. Leo Fernig, then Director of the IBE, worked closely with WCCES founder Joseph Katz to organize the first World Congress of Comparative Education Societies in 1970. At the invitation of Fernig, the WCCES moved its Secretariat to the IBE in 1972. At the Symposium, the IBE organized a tour of its Historical Archives, including a small exhibition of WCCES ephemera showcasing the shared history and close bond of the IBE and WCCES.
 
The ties between the IBE will be further strengthened during the XVII World Congress of Comparative Education Societies in May 2019, in Cancún, Mexico http://2019worldcongress.org, where the IBE’s Director, Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope, will deliver a keynote address on the Future of Education.