The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that conflict and widespread poverty have stalled progress on education rates over the past decade around the world.
“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,” Unicef said in a press release on Wednesday.
According to Unicef, with 11.5 per cent of school-age children, or 123 million missing school today, compared to 12.8 per cent, or 135 million in 2007, the percentage of out-of-school children has barely decreased in the last decade, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough,” said Unicef Chief of Education Jo Bourne.
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 percent live in the least developed countries and 20 percent live in conflict zones, said Unicef.
The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have resulted in an additional 3.4 million children missing out on education, bringing the number of out-of-school children across the Middle East and North Africa back to 2007’s level of approximately 16 million.
With their high levels of poverty, rapidly increasing populations and recurring emergencies, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for 75 per cent 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,” said Bourne.