More than 35 lakh refugee children aged 5 to 17 did not have the chance to attend school across the world in the last academic year, UNHCR says in a report released on Tuesday. According to the report titled 'Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis', some 15 lakh refugee children are missing out on primary school while the remaining 20 lakh refugee adolescents are not in secondary school.
The report compares UNHCR sources and statistics on refugee education with data from UNESCO, the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization, on school enrolment around the world. Globally, 91 per cent of children attend primary school.
It says only 23.0 percent of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, compared to 84 per cent globally. For tertiary education the situation is critical. Across the world, enrolment in tertiary education stands at 36.0 percent while it is stuck at 1.0 percent for refugees.
"The international community will fail to attain its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at transforming the world by 2030 if it does not act to reverse these trends," said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He said the education of the young refugees is crucial to the peaceful and sustainable development of the countries that have welcomed them and to their homes when they are able to return.
The report calls for education to be considered fundamental to the response to refugee emergencies, and for it to be supported by long-term planning and reliable funding. It urges governments to include refugees in their national education systems as the most effective, equitable and sustainable response, and highlights some of the notable efforts made towards implementing such a policy - even in countries where resources are already stretched.
The findings further underline the importance of quality teaching, and of the national and international support networks needed to keep teachers trained, motivated and able to make a positive impact in the world's toughest classrooms.
Numerous personal stories featured in the report demonstrate that while refugees are desperate to get an education - well aware of the transformative effect it can have on their lives - there are far too few teachers, classrooms, text books and support mechanisms to meet such enormous demand.
This is the second annual education report from UNHCR. The first, "Missing Out", was released in advance of the UN General Assembly's Summit for Refugees and Migrants last September. The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, signed by 193 countries, put education at the forefront of the international response.
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