ENROLMENT in early childhood education remains very limited in some countries. It’s crucial that children uprooted by war and violence are not left behind even further
A new policy paper, ‘No more excuses’, jointly released by the Unesco Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report and UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit tomorrow and Tuesday, reveals new data showing that only 50 per cent of refugee children are in primary school and 25 per cent of refugee adolescents are in secondary school.
The paper calls for countries and their humanitarian and development partners to urgently ensure that those forcibly displaced are included in national education plans and to collect better data to monitor their education status and progress.
“There are unprecedented numbers of forcibly displaced populations, putting huge pressure on education systems. But for these children and youth, education is especially important: by simply being in school, they are better protected from trafficking, illegal adoption, child marriage, sexual exploitation and forced labour,” said Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco.
Behind the global average number of refugee children out of school, there are significant differences among countries. Primary enrolment rates average 80 per cent in selected refugee sites in Egypt, Iran and Yemen, but only 40 per cent in Pakistan and 50 per cent in Ethiopia.
Access to secondary education is even more limited for refugees in many countries. In Kenya, Pakistan and Bangladesh, less than 5 per cent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 were enrolled in secondary education.
Enrolment in early childhood education also remains very limited in some countries, reaching only 7 per cent in Turkey in 2015.
“Refugee children, like children everywhere, have the right to education. It is fundamental that children who have been uprooted by war and violence are not left behind even further,” said Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for UNHCR. “We urge donors and development organisations to support efforts to include refugee children and youth in national education systems.”
Aaron Benavot, director of the Unesco GEM report, says collecting information on moving populations is challenging, if not impossible sometimes. “What little we know is mostly about those living in camps, yet more than half of the world’s refugees reside in urban areas, where even less is known because information systems aren’t tracking them. We need to know who they are, what they’ve been through and whether we’re effectively responding to their needs.”
From select available data outside of camps, the paper shows that of school-aged Syrian refugees only 53 per cent in Jordan and 30 per cent in Turkey are enrolled in school.
Reliable data on internally displaced people (IDPs) is even more limited, but reports indicate that their displacement is putting huge strain on already weak education systems. In Nigeria, for instance, children displaced due to attacks by Boko Haram in 19 out of the 42 camps did not have access to any form of education in June 2015. In Iraq, only 32 per cent of internally displaced children and adolescents in 2015 had access to any form of education. In Yemen, only one third of school age IDP children in Lahj governorate were enrolled in school.
Those already marginalised, such as girls, are often the worst affected among refugees. In Kakuma camps in Kenya, in 2015, only 38 per cent of primary school students were girls. In Pakistan, where child marriage and teenage pregnancy are often cited among refugee girls, dropout rates for refugee girls are as high as 90 per cent.
Girls and women make up 70 per cent of the world’s internally displaced population and are left the furthest behind in education. In Iraq, in Najaf governorate, 81 per cent of 15- to 17-year-old girls were out of school compared to 69 per cent of boys of the same age. In urban areas in Afghanistan only 1 per cent of IDP women were found to be literate versus 20 per cent of IDP men.
The paper advocates for four main policy directions for governments and their partners to tackle the diverse neglected needs of IDPs and refugees: Enshrine forcibly displaced people’s rights to education in national laws and policy, include displaced children and youth in national education systems, enable accelerated and flexible education options to meet diverse needs, and ensure an adequate supply of trained and motivated teachers.
Source : Gulf News