The United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) chief of Education, Jo Bourne, September 6 warned that if vulnerable children “continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,” they will not reach their full potential. “Investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough. This business-as-usual approach will not get the most vulnerable children into school – and help them reach their full potential – if they continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,” she added.
Pervasive levels of poverty, protracted conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies have led to stagnation in reducing the global out-of-school rate over the past decade, prompting UNICEF to call for more investments.
Pointing out that war continues to threaten – and reverse – education gains. UNICEF stated that children living in the world’s poorest countries and in conflict zones are disproportionally affected. Of the 123 million children missing out on school, 40% live in the least developed countries and 20% live in conflict zones.
With 11.5% of school-age children – or 123 million missing school today, compared to 12.8% – or 135 million – in 2007, the percentage of out-of-school 6-15 year olds has barely decreased in the last decade, according to UNICEF.
With their high levels of poverty, rapidly increasing populations and recurring emergencies, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for 75% of the global out-of-school primary- and lower-secondary school age population.
“Governments and the global community must target their investments at eliminating the factors preventing these children from going to school in the first place, including by making schools safe and improving teaching and learning,” she continued.
However, some progress has been achieved.
Ethiopia and Niger, among the world’s poorest countries, have made the most enrolment rate progress in primary-school-age children with an increase of more than 15% and around 19%, respectively.
Emergency funding shortfalls for education affect access for children in conflict to attend school.
On average, less than 2.7% of global humanitarian appeals are dedicated to education.
Six-months into 2017, UNICEF had only received 12% of the funding required to provide education for children caught up in crises. More funds are urgently required to address the increasing number and complexity of crises and to give children the stability and opportunities they deserve.
“Learning provides relief for children affected by emergencies in the short-term, but is also a critical investment in the future development of societies in the long-term. Yet, investment in education does not respond to the realities of a volatile world. To address this, we must secure greater and more predictable funding for education in unpredictable emergencies” underscored Ms. Bourne.
Photo UNICEF/Bahaji : An 11-year-old girl lost her left leg in a suicide attack in an internal displaced persons (IDP) site in the Lake Chad Region. After three months in a hospital, she is trying to start over.