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3.7 million refugee children have no access to schools: UN

The damning data about growing education chasm leaves futures of refugee children in the dark Photograph: (AFP)

New York, United States Sep 16, 2016, 12.48 PM (IST)
Half of refugee children -- 3.7 million -- don't have access to primary and secondary schools, UN said today. 

A UN Refugee Agency report, titled 'Missing Out: Refugee Education In Crisis', suggests that 1.75 refugee children and 1.95 million refugee adolescents had no school to go to in 2015. 

The figures were published a week before global leaders converge in New York to attend two key meetings to address the global refugee crisis.

The study said there is a need to build 12,000 classrooms and recruit 20,000 teachers to get displaced children back to school.

The problem has deepened as there are 600,000 children that are being forcibly displaced since 2011. 

“Refugee education is sorely neglected, when it is one of the few opportunities we have to transform and build the next generation so they can change the fortunes of the tens of millions of forcibly displaced people globally,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The report also juxtaposed the global average with that of percentage of refugee children going to school to underscore the growing chasm.

While the global average of children attending primary schools is 90 per cent, the number for refugee children lies at just 50.

It gets worse for refugee adolescents as only 22 per cent of them go to schools, which is several notches below the world average of 84 per cent.

At the higher education level, only one per cent of refugees go to universities as against the global average of 34 per cent. 

One of the reasons for the yawning education gulf is that most host countries are themselves struggling to educate their own children.

More than half of out-of-school refugees are based in Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey -- countries that are facing an uphill task to recruit teachers and build schools in regions where refugees are staying.

The report has put a spanner in the works of the United Nations's global target of achieving "inclusive and quality education for all" by 2030.

Conflict has also been another reason for the growing education crisis. The report took the example of Syria where 94 per cent children attended primary and lower secondary schools in 2009. But by June 2016, the number had dipped to 60 per cent. 

Only 39 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Turkey, 40 per cent in Lebanon and 70 per cent in Jordan were enrolled in schools. The UN data suggests that close to 900,000 Syrian children have no access to schools. 

A UNESCO research suggested that countries with low education index were more prone to experiencing conflicts. 


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