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In the last 3 years, Europe has recorded an unprecedented high number of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants arriving to its shores and crossing its external borders. According to Eurostat, in 2015, an estimated 2.7 million immigrants migrated to the EU from third countries. On 1 January 2016, the number of people living in the EU-28 who were citizens of non-member countries was 20.7 million, making up 4% of its total population. Migrants are also on average much younger than the population of the country of destination, with a greater proportion of relatively young working age adults. The median age of the national population in the EU-28 in 2016 was 44 years, compared to the 36 years of non-nationals.

Integrating third country nationals and more particularly children and youngsters with a migrant background is key to unleash their potential, promote social inclusion and contribute to the economic growth of host communities and of the EU as a whole. The European Commission has addressed the challenge by launching in 2016 the Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals, as a key holistic initiative. Among the key policy priorities and tools identified to support integration across the EU, the initiative has acknowledged education as one of “the most powerful tools for integration and access to them should be ensured and promoted as early as possible”.

SIRIUS – the European Policy Network on the Education of Children and Young People with a Migrant Background – initiated by the European Commission in 2012, has positioned itself as one of the key stakeholders in migrant education by providing concrete policy guidelines on how to improve education systems to ensure equity, social inclusion and excellence in education. The network facilitates inclusive policymaking by exchanging knowledge and experience between researchers, practitioners, immigrant youth and communities and policymakers for the development of joint strategies on migrant education.

SIRIUS’ annual policy conference on 15 December 2017 would like to be a platform bringing together representatives of EU institutions and Member States along with academics, practitioners and all relevant stakeholders to reflect on the capacity of the education system to meet the needs of migrant children. The event will be an occasion to discuss successes, challenges, gaps and new potential priorities in the field of migrant education. The conference will combine a top-down and bottom-up approach to guarantee that the practical experience and evidence from the Member States can inform EU-wide debate on the EU’ priorities and contributions to the education of migrants and refugee children and youth.