Nearly 50 million children are out of education in many poorer countries due to armed conflicts that leave institutions of learning such as schools non-existent.
In these countries armed conflict destroys not only school infrastructure, but also education for a whole generation of children. Millions of these children are denied an education; hopes, ambitions and aspirations in life.
The paper, “Children still battling to go to school” shows that of the 69 million children of lower secondary school age who were not in school in 2011, 20 million of them lived in conflict-affected countries, of which 11 million were female.
Released in partnership with Save the Children to mark the 16th birthday on 12 July of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban on her way from in 2012, the paper calls for urgent action to bring schools to the 28.5 million primary school age children who lack access to an education due to conflict.
Many of these children are in poorer countries and come from low-income families. According to the report; of the 28.5 million primary school age children out of school due to conflict, 12.6 million live in sub-Saharan Africa, 5.3 million live in South and West Asia, and 4 million live in the Arab States.
Girls, who make up 55% of the total, are the worst affected, as they are often victims of rape and other sexual violence that accompanies armed conflicts.
When governments signed the Dakar Framework for Action 2000 they identified conflict as a major barrier towards getting children to school. They acknowledged that children in conflict zones are robbed of an education, not only because schools are closed and teachers absent, but also because they experience widespread rape; sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other abuses.
In most trouble countries such as Sudan, Somalia and the DR Congo school-going-age children are often enlisted as child soldiers.
In a 1996 UNICEF commissioned report ‘Impact of Armed Conflict on Children’ Graca Machel said: “The physical, sexual and emotional violence to which they [children] are exposed shatters their world. War undermines the very foundations of children’s lives, destroying their homes, splintering their communities and breaking down their trust in adults.”
This also means they stop going to school because they are no schools to go to anymore. In most cases these children are displaced from their homes, and as a result they find themselves in refugee camps that are ill-equipped to give essential services such as education.
UNESCO says children make up 46% of people displaced by armed conflict. This is a staggering figure. These young people’s learning process gets disrupted at a very critical stage of their development, risking a lifetime disadvantage on career choice.
- Malala Yousafzai to tell UN: books and pens are our most powerful weapons (guardian.co.uk)
- War denying millions of children an education – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘Education is the only solution’: Pakistani girl shot by Taliban addresses U.N. on 16th birthday (news.nationalpost.com)
- Pakistan’s Malala Yousufzai celebrates 16th birthday with UN speech (ctvnews.ca)