Read caption A new report shows that millions of children in conflict areas are not in school.

Children in conflict areas left behind

Hanne Eide Andersen|Published 09. Apr 2015
Although the number of children out of school has been falling since 2000, children in conflict-affected countries continue to be excluded from this progress.

“The international community made the promise that by 2015, all children should have their right to education fulfilled. Instead 58 million girls and boys are still out of school, many living in conflict areas. The international community has failed our most vulnerable children”, says NRC’s education advisor Silje Skeie. 

A new report from UNESCO shows that children in conflict areas make up 36 percent of all those 58 million children who are out of school in the world today. This is up from 30 percent in 2000. 

The UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report measures the global progress on the goals set in Dakar in 2000 to ensure all children education by 2015. Lack of humanitarian funding for education in emergencies remains a huge problem, and is still the least funded of all humanitarian sectors. 

Education in conflict areas, such as in Colombia (pictured), is a key step towards universal primary education. Photo: NRC 

Since 2000 significant progress has been made, with a major rise in the total number of children enrolled in school. Still, the report shows that children experiencing war have not benefited from this development. 

“Unfortunately, we are seeing the same every year. There is general progess, but the most vulnerable among the children continue to be left behind. In addition to conflict-affected children, children living in poverty and underdeveloped countries make up the other large group among those still out of school. This is very sad and unacceptable, and must be addressed when shaping the post-2015 global education agenda, says Silje Skeie.  The UNESCO report also highlights how insecurity leads to lack of participation in school. This may be insecurity due to fear of violent attacks on schools or fear of experiencing sexual violence while in school. 

“We are experiencing an increased level of attacks on education, like the one recently witnessed in Kenya. Violent attacks on schools and school children is a war crime and a breach of children’s human rights that must be prevented” says Silje Sjøvåg Skeie, adding:  

“Education must form part of all humanitarian responses from day one if children are to be protected, have their rights upheld and have an opportunity for a better future. Universal access to primary education will never be accomplished unless significant efforts are made to get  children affected by conflict into school”. 

Classes in an informal tented settlement in Bekaa, Lebanon. Many Syrian refugee children have lost years of schooling due to the war. Photo: NRC/Sam Tarling