30 per cent of youth in disaster, conflict prone countries are illiterates – UNICEF

UNICEF Building in Geneva
The UNICEF logo is pictured on a building in Geneva. [Courtesy: voanewscom]

Nearly three in 10 young persons aged between 15 and 24 years old living in countries affected by conflict or disasters are illiterates, UNICEF said Wednesday.

According to the UN Agency, 59 million is the estimated figure of illiterates and this “tripled the global illiteracy rate.”

It also said Niger, Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic which are among countries with a long history of instability and high levels of poverty, recorded the highest illiteracy rates.

The UNICEF found among those aged 15 to 24, 76 per cent, 69 per cent, 68 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively, were unable to read or write in the four countries.

The analysis also notes that girls and young women are at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to reading and writing, with 33 per cent of them in emergency countries failing to learn even the basics, compared to 24 per cent of boys.

“These numbers are a stark reminder of the tragic impact that crises have on children’s education, their futures, and the stability and growth of their economies and societies,” the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said.

“An uneducated child who grows into an illiterate youth in a country ripped apart by conflict or destroyed by disasters may not have much of a chance.”

The fund further noted that education remains severely underfunded.

“Currently, only 3.6 per cent of humanitarian funding goes toward providing education for children living in emergencies, making it one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals.”

UNICEF estimates that it will spend approximately $1 billion a year on education programmes over the next four years.

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