The C-MISE Guidance provides extensive information on practices that municipalities across Europe have adopted to provide access to education to irregular migrants. These practices may offer a blueprint for other local authorities promoting access to education to irregular migrants.

Although entitled in international law and in the national laws of almost all EU countries to attend school and access education, children with irregular immigration status in Europe may encounter several barriers impeding their enrolment in and effective attendance at school. Students’ fear of exposing themselves and their families to detection by immigration authorities may prevent them from attending school. They may also not be able to provide proof of residence or a social security number at times required for enrolment. As pupils with irregular status may not receive state support, costs for schools (books, meals and transportation for instance) may not be accessible for some families. Since they may also be unable to take official exams and receive their final school-leaving certificate, they may choose to forgo education altogether. Finally, depending on how they are funded, local schools may not be reimbursed for costs related to their students with irregular status, and may therefore be reluctant to accept them as students.

For irregular migrants out of schooling age, access to education is rendered even more difficult, as they are generally not entitled to attend vocational or training programmes, including language classes. Additionally, the qualifications they hold from their home country may not be recognized in the host country. Because they are also excluded from the labour market, it leaves them with limited work options, increasing their social exclusion as well as the risk of falling into juvenile criminality.

Municipalities with competency over the administration of schools within their territory may facilitate effective access to education for children in an irregular condition by overcoming many of the barriers they encounter. First, they can instruct local schools to develop enrolment procedures that do not require providing documentation that cannot be produced by students with precarious migration status, and to refrain from reporting students with irregular status to immigration law enforcement authorities (‘firewall’). Municipalities can also allocate financial resources to cover schools’ costs for students when schools are not reimbursed by national funds for costs related to students with irregular status. They can also support students’ expenses for attending school by allocating financial resources to support migrants directly or provide funding to other organizations for this purpose. Finally, they may also offer a range of educational opportunities beyond the mainstream educational system, such as language or vocational programs geared towards irregular migrants out of schooling age who are not in the official labour market and may not have sufficient skills in the local language.

If you want to learn more about local initiatives in the area of education, follow the link below and access the C-MISE Guidance (pages P56-61 ).

For more information on the practices presented in the guidance, you can also contact the C-MISE team at: