Almost 50 Million Children Out of School in Conflict-Affected Countries, While Attacks on Education Rise, Save the Children Warns

Almost 50 Million Children Out of School in Conflict-Affected Countries, While Attacks on Education Rise, Save the Children Warns

Almost 50 million children living in conflict-affected countries are being denied the chance to go to school, while the number of reported attacks on education is rising. Read more.

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The wall in a classroom at El Jeel Eljaded School in Libya is riddled with bullet holes. Nearly 50 million children living in conflict-affected countries are unable to attend school. Jenn Warren/Save the Children
The wall in a classroom at El Jeel Eljaded School in Libya is riddled with bullet holes. Nearly 50 million children living in conflict-affected countries are unable to attend school. Jenn Warren/Save the Children

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WESTPORT, Conn. (July 11, 2013) — Almost 50 million children living in conflict-affected countries are being denied the chance to go to school, while the number of reported attacks on education is rising, Save the Children has said.

The number of reported incidents of children being stopped from accessing education, physically attacked or recruited by armed groups has increased sharply over the past year, after monitoring efforts were stepped up in the face of the deteriorating situation in Syria and concerns over girls' access to education in parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

In a new report published today, Save the Children documents the impact of conflict on education, and includes new research done for Save the Children by UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFAGMR) that finds 48.5 million children living in conflict areas are currently out of school, more than half of them at primary school age.

The conflict in Syria has contributed to the sharp increase in the number of reported incidents, according to Save the Children. Of more than 3,600 incidents recorded in 2012, more than 70 percent were in Syria.

The new research comes as Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai addresses the UN General Assembly on July 12 in her first public speech since she was attacked by gunmen on her way to school in Pakistan last October.

The report finds:

  • Of the nearly 50 million children aged between six and 15 out of school in conflict-affected countries in 2011, 28.5 million were primary school children, more than half of them girls.
  • In 2012, there were 3,600 documented attacks on education, including violence, torture and intimidation against children and teachers, resulting in death or grave injuries, the shelling and bombing of schools and the recruitment of school-aged children by armed groups.
  • Since the start of the Syria conflict, 3,900 schools have either been destroyed, damaged or are being occupied for purposes other than education.

In addition to the research, Save the Children has gathered first-hand testimonies of children caught up in attacks on education:

  • I am in ninth grade but this war stopped me from graduating. I should have graduated and gone to high school, to start building my future but no… my future is destroyed. – Motassem, 13, Syria
  • The day the rebels came, they destroyed the school. They went into the headmaster's office and destroyed everything; they destroyed the students' papers. – Salif, 13, Mali
  • Young people in the village are approached by guerrillas to recruit them. My cousin was tricked into going with them four months ago and I haven't heard from her in a month. – Paula, 15, Colombia

"Education offers children in some of the toughest parts of the world the chance at a brighter future. The attacks highlighted in our report are an attack on that future, robbing children of the chance to learn and fulfill their potential. The classroom should be a place of safety and security, not a battleground where children suffer the most appalling crimes. Children who are targeted in this way will pay the price for the rest of their lives," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.

"Conflict is holding back progress, preventing millions of children from going to school every year. Our new analysis shows that children out of school in conflict-affected countries are being forgotten. Many of the affected children will never resume their education, and will be scarred physically and psychologically for life," said Pauline Rose, Director of the Global Monitoring Report.

Despite the high levels of children out of school and the sharp increase in attacks, levels of funding for education in humanitarian emergencies remain shockingly low. Education funding has continued to fall from 2 percent of overall humanitarian funding in 2011 to only 1.4 percent of overall humanitarian funding in 2012, below the 4 percent that the global community has been calling for since 2010.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in more than 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Notes to editors:

  • In 2011 there were 28.5 million children aged between 6 and 11 out of school in conflict areas, compared to 28 million in 2008. The report for the first time includes the number of teenagers between ages 12 and 15 out of secondary school in conflict areas, totaling 20 million, giving a combined total of 48.5 million.
  • The Education For All Global Monitoring Report (EFAGMR) is developed annually by an independent team and published by UNESCO.
  • The analysis provided by the EFA GMR for this partnership with Save the Children is an update of calculations found in the 2011 EFA GMR, The hidden crisis: armed conflict and education.
  • In 2012, the UN Secretary General presented an annual report "Children and Armed Conflict" to the UN Security Council. Save the Children referenced this report and counted 3,643 attacks on education.
  • Since the start of the Syria conflict, 3,900 schools have either been destroyed, damaged or are being occupied for purposes other than in education. This number is based on figures reported by UNICEF in January 2013, which includes revised figures provided by the Syrian Ministry of Education in December 2012 and new figures obtained through ongoing education needs assessments carried out by UNICEF and partners in various parts of the country.

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