Millions of refugee children ‘missing out’ on education: New UN Report

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 16 (APP): The United Nations refugee agency said that more than some six million school-age children under its mandate have no school go to and that refugees are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average.
“This represents a crisis for millions of refugee children,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement issued by his Office (UNHCR).
“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,” he added.
According to the agency’s new report, Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis, only half of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of more than 90 per cent. And as these children become older, the gap further widens: only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents attend secondary school compared to a global average of 84 per cent.
At the higher education level, just one per cent of refugees attend university, compared to a global average of 34 per cent.
These findings are particularly pertinent as next week, global leaders will be gathering in new York for two major relevant meetings: the UN General Assembly’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September, and, the very next day, a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis, hosted by United States President Barack Obama.
In a press releasre, UNCHR said that at both summits, it will call on governments, donors, humanitarian agencies and development partners, as well as private-sector partners, to strengthen their commitment to ensuring that every child receives a quality education.
“Underlining the discussions will be the target of Sustainable Development Goal 4, [to] ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning,” an aim that will not be realized by 2030 without meeting the education needs of vulnerable populations, including refugees and other forcibly displaced people,”the UN agency stressed.
The report also revealed that the global school-age refugee population remained relatively stable at 3.5 million between 2001 and 2010, but since then, it has grown on average by 600,000 children and adolescents annually. In 2014 alone, this population grew by 30 per cent.
While noting that governments, UNHCR and its partners have made progress in enrolling more numbers of refugees in school, the agency said that the sheer increase in the number new refugees makes actual progress a daunting task.
Given the recent numbers, UNHCR estimates that an average of at least 12,000 additional classrooms and 20,000 additional teachers are needed on an annual basis.
Furthermore, the agency highlighted that refugees often live in regions where governments are already struggling to educate their own children. They face the additional task of finding places for schools, trained teachers and learning materials for tens or even hundreds of thousands of newcomers, who often do not speak the language of instruction and have frequently missed out on three to four years of schooling.
Exemplified by the crisis in Syria, the report further shows how conflict has the potential to reverse positive education trends.
Presenting the figures, the UN agency notes that while in 2009, 94 per cent of Syrian children attended primary and lower secondary school, by June 2016, only 60 per cent are in school, leaving 2.1 million children and adolescents without access to education in the country.
In neighbouring countries, more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees are registered with the agency, amongst them around 35 per cent are of school-age. In Turkey, only 39 per cent of school-age refugee children and adolescents are enrolled in primary and secondary education, 40 per cent in Lebanon, and 70 per cent in Jordan.
“This means that nearly 900,000 Syrian school-age refugee children and adolescents are not in school,” UNHCR notd.