There are over 263 million children out of school today and more than a third of them (75 Million) are facing or have faced conflict or crisis. Only half of refugee and displaced children have access to primary education, with 22% getting to secondary education, and less than 1% making it to the university level. The average time in exile for a refugee is 20 years. That means 20 years of limited or no access to education.
Even before a child refugee is forced to migrate, they face constant threats of school closures during conflict situations. Girls are almost two and a half times more likely than boys to be out of school if they live in countries affected by conflict. After relocation, the struggle doesn’t end. More than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children (about 3.7 million according to UNHCR) are located in only seven underdeveloped countries in Africa and the Middle East, where governments already struggle with providing adequate education.
In the classroom, girls continue to face obstacles. They are at the highest risk for school-related gender-based violence, which can range from unwanted sexual comments to corporal punishment. Fortunately, organizations like the Global Partnership for Education mobilize funds to provide quality education by hiring more women teachers, developing gender sensitive trainings and materials, and ensuring safe and secure schools.
The Global Partnership for Education also strengthens the education systems of countries affected by conflict and their neighbors. The network helps these countries develop sustainable and transitional education plans allowing for appropriate allocation of resources. The GPE’s work is rooted in inclusive policy dialogue and country ownership to prioritize early childhood education, help children with disabilities, and train teachers.
Since 2010, less than 2% of humanitarian funding has been spent on education. $8.5 billion is needed annually to close this gap, according to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) Fund. The United States has made an initial contribution to the ECW fund but should follow other countries' lead in increasing its support to the Global Partnership for Education as well which offers grants to over 40 conflict and crisis affected countries. Tell Congress to commit to $125 million to the Global Partnership for Education, demonstrating their commitment to ensuring all children have the opportunity to receive quality education.