There are six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under UNHCR’s mandate: 3.7 million of them are out of school. Only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, whereas 91 per cent of children worldwide have this opportunity. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children.
These are the figures provided by the UNHCR report “Missing Out: Refugee education in crisis”, released in September and based on UNHCR’s population data and UNESCO’s global enrolment data.
The report also tells the stories of some of these refugee children and youth, showing the obstacles to their full participation in formal education, their needs and their aspirations:
“I miss my school, I never missed a day of school in Syria. I miss my books the most. I miss reading” says Nawfal, a Syrian refugee child who found shelter in Lebanon and who does not go to school; in 2009, before the war began, only 1.1 per cent of Syrian children did not attend primary school: by contrast, this percentage rose to 29.1 by 2013.
According to the report, the difficulties that refugee children and youth face to access to formal education increase as they get older: only 22 per cent of refugee adolescent receive a secondary education whereas 84% of the adolescent around the world attend secondary school; just one per cent have access to university, compared with a global level of 34 per cent.
Moreover, refugees often are hosted in countries where governments are already struggling to educate their own children; more than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children are located in just seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
To meet the educational needs of refugee children and youth, UNHCR call to action host countries, donors governments, private business and individuals to address the huge gaps in the provision of quality education for all refugees.
“Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” is the 4th Sustainable Development Goal which has a multiplier effect on the peaceful and sustainable development of our world:
“The returns on investing in education are immense and far-reaching”, states Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; “Education enables children and youth to thrive, not just survive. Education provides the keys to a future in which refugees can find solutions for themselves and their communities”.
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