The number of refugee children enrolled in schools is diminishing as wars and persecution continues to rise worldwide, a new report released on Wednesday by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says.
The study titled “Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis” found that four million refugee children do not attend school, an increase of half a million of out-of-school refugee children in just one year.
By the end of 2017, there were more than 25.4 million refugees around the world, 19.9 million of them under UNHCR’s mandate. More than half – 52 per cent – were children. Among them, 7.4 million were of school age.
“Education is a way to help children heal, but it is also key to rebuilding their countries,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said. “Without education, the future of these children and their communities will be irrevocably damaged.”
Only 61 per cent of refugee children attend primary school, compared to 92 per cent of children globally.
“Education is a way to help children heal, but it is also key to rebuilding their countries,” Grandi added.
As refugee children get older, this gap grows. Nearly two thirds of refugee children who go to primary school do not make it to secondary school. In total, 23 per cent of refugee children attend secondary school, compared to 84 per cent of children globally.
At tertiary level, the gap becomes a chasm. Globally, enrolment in higher education stands at 37 per cent, while only one per cent of refugees have the same opportunity – a figure that has not changed in three years.
The report urges host countries to enrol refugee children in national systems, with a proper curriculum, all the way through primary and secondary school, to allow for recognized qualifications that can be their springboard to university or higher vocational training.