Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 22/05/23


No major differences are reported between the situation of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. See the section on Reception Conditions: Access to Education.

Nonetheless, concerning this topic and many others related to their rights and protection, refugee unaccompanied minors are the most vulnerable collective, and are sometimes excluded from education or vocational training. Obstacles faced by these minors concern the lack of proper attention paid by administrations that have their legal guardianship.

Throughout 2019 several cases have been denounced concerning unaccompanied minors, putting in evidence the shortcomings of the public system for minors’ protection. These have mainly been witnessed in the City of Melilla and Madrid. Although none of the reported cases concerned directly refugee children, the system in which they are received faces problem and obstacles concerning their documentation, their integration and their protection.

In February 2020 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued an opinion urging the Spanish authorities to adopt measures for the immediate access of a girl to the public system of primary education of Melilla.[1] The concerned girl, along with around 100 other children, has been claiming her right to education to the authorities in Melilla and the Minister of Education for several years.

Despite that, the situation remained unsolved and in July 2020 the Association for Children Rights (Asociación pro Derechos de la Infancia – Prodein) denounced again that around 100 children would not be allowed to access education in the course 2020-2021, due to bureaucratic obstacles that seem to indicate institutional racism.[2]  Following a parliamentary request raised by the Parliament’s member Jon Iñarritu of the Basque party Euskal Herria Bildu, the Government answered that the right to education of children should prevail regardless of the legal status of their parents and should be guaranteed in any part of the national territory.[3]

Following two claims received in October and December 2020, the Spanish Ombudsman requested the Ministry of Education and Professional Training to immediately provide schooling to three children in Melilla, in light of the resolution of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the documentation submitted that demonstrated the effective residence in Melilla.[4] At the time of writing of this report, the Ombudsman’s requests remained unanswered.

The problem of access to education for migrant children in Melilla persisted throughout the 1st semester of 2021. In June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child affirmed that Spain violated a child right when impeding his access to education in Melilla, and especially in taking two years before A.E.A. could access schooling in March 2021. The UN body also urged Spain to guarantee compensation to A.E.A, a boy born in Melilla on 2013 from a Moroccan citizen.[5] Following such decision, the Spanish Ombudsman requested the Ministry of Education to provide for the means necessary to guarantee that no child residing in Melilla, independently of their origins, is excluded from education next school year.[6]

The Spanish Commissioner against Child Poverty also accused the city of Melilla to violate children rights.[7]

At the beginning of the new academic course in September 2021, 160 children obtained access to schooling.[8] It is hoped that this is a definitive achievement. In February 2022, the Minister of Education changed the procedure for the admission of students in Ceuta and Melilla with the aim of guaranteeing all children residing in the two cities access to education.[9]

In 2020 Save the Children, the Secretariat for Roma People (Fundación Secretariado Gitano) and the Spanish Committee of Representatives of People with Disabilities (Comité Español de Representantes de Personas con Discapacidad – CERMI) joined forces to establish an alliance for inclusive education and combat school segregation. They asked the Government to adopt a set of legislative reforms and measures in order put and effective end to school segregation by 2030.[10]

On November 2022, the Council of Ministers adopted a Royal Decree establishing the granting of direct subsidies for a total of 2.65 million Euros to 27 public Universities and to the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities in the framework of the Action Plan University-Refuge. The aim is to fund different kind of actions, i.e. linguistic support, cultural and psychological support, academic guidance, support and access to academic services and social services, awareness-raising on the conflict in Ukraine and on the international protection, etc.[11]

In 2022, UNHCR supported NGO Rescate to implement the mentoring project Contigo addressed to children and young refugees between 15 and 24 years old, which benefited 47 refugees and 93 local volunteers, improving the integration prospects of beneficiaries while raising awareness on the role of the civil society and local communities.[12]

In addition, UNHCR supported refugee communities through three small grant agreements with refugee-led organisations working on refugee empowerment and integration. The projects implemented aimed to support refugee communities through capacity building activities including a course and mentoring sessions on entrepreneurship, roundtables on active refugee participation and language courses. [13]




[1] Cadena Ser, ‘La ONU obliga a España a escolarizar a una niña de Melilla’, 11 February 2020, available in Spanish at:

[2] Público, ‘Los 100 niños sin escolarizar en Melilla, invisibles para Educación y la sociedad’, 5 July 2020, available in Spanish at:

[3] Melilla Hoy, El Gobierno avala la escolarización de niños aunque sus padres no residan de forma legal en Melilla, 10 July 2020, available in Spanish at:

[4] Defensor del Pueblo, Inmediata escolarización de unos menores y acreditación de su residencia efectiva en Melilla, 2 October 2020, available Spanish at:; Defensor del Pueblo, Escolarización de un menor residente en la Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla en situación irregular, 3 December 2020, available in Spanish at:

[5] Naciones Unidas, Noticias ONU, España viola el derecho a la educación de un niño marroquí en Melilla, afirma Comité de la ONU, 14 June 2021, available at:

[6] Europapress, El Defensor del Pueblo pide que ningún niño de Melilla quede sin escolarizar el próximo curso, 15 June 2021, available at:

[7] MSN, ‘El Comisionado contra la Pobreza acusa a Melilla de violar derechos de infancia’, 21 April 2021, available at:

[8] El Salto Diario, Después de tres años de peticiones rechazadas, 160 niños de Melilla han vuelto esta semana a la escuela, 9 September 2021, available at:

[9] El País, ‘El Ministerio de Educación cambia su normativa para garantizar la plena escolarización de los niños en Melilla’, 17 February 2022, available at:

[10] Europapress, ‘Save The Children, CERMI y Secretariado Gitano piden al Gobierno “acabar” con la segregación escolar antes de 2030’, 2 July 2020, available in Spanish at:

[11] Europa Press, ‘El Gobierno destina 2,6 millones de euros a 27 universidades públicas para el Plan Universidad-Refugio’, 22 November 2022, available at:

[12] Information provided by UNHCR in March 2023.

[13] Information provided by UNHCR in March 2023.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation