No fewer than 24 million children in crisis zones in 22 strife-torn countries are being deprived of education, UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has said in a report.
The report was released in New York on Tuesday.
The analysis highlights that nearly one in four of 109.2 million children of primary and lower secondary school age, aged between six years and 15 years living in conflict areas were missing out on their education.
It said South Sudan, which was thrown into turmoil when conflict erupted between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar in 2014, had the highest proportion of the number.
It added that over half of primary and lower secondary age children had no access to education.
The UN agency said Niger was second, followed by Sudan and Afghanistan.
It stated that in countries affected by conflict, collecting data on children was difficult and as such the figures might not adequately capture the breadth and depth of the challenge.
UNICEF said unless the provision of education in emergencies was prioritised, a generation of children living in conflict would grow up without the skills they needed to contribute to their countries’ development.
It said the situation might exacerbate the already desperate situation for millions of children and their families.
The agency said education had continued to be one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals.
It said in Uganda, where UNICEF was providing services to South Sudanese refugees, education was facing 89 per cent funding gap.
UNICEF said it was working to create safe environments where children could learn and play to restore normalcy to their lives.
In spite of these efforts, security restrictions and funding shortfalls are affecting education and the distribution of learning materials in conflict situations, it said.
NAN recalls that UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, told reporters during a briefing that 28 million boys and girls were not in school in areas of conflict or emergency.
Mr. Brown made a plea for a multi-million dollar humanitarian fund for education in emergencies to be set up for children in conflict areas.