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The World Receives an 'F' for Global Education as Millions of Children Are Still Out of School


Millions of children around the world head back to school this month, marking the end of another summer free of homework and report cards, at least for most.

However, 123 million children ages 6-15 around the world will not return to school this year.

Take Action:Children Around The World Deserve To Go To School

Governments and organizations everywhere have been working to lower this number and keep more children in school. But based on a recently-released progress report from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the world received an “F” for its efforts.

Over the past decade, the number of school-aged children not in school has only fallen by 1.3%.

In 2007, nearly 12.8% (135 million) of children ages 6-15 were out of school; ten years later, 11.5% of school-aged kids (123 million) are still missing out on critical learning opportunities, UNICEF announced on Wednesday.

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“This business-as-usual approach will not get the most vulnerable children into school — and help them reach their full potential — if they continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,” UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne said in the report.

Widespread poverty, prolonged conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies, like the threat of famine in the Horn of Africa this year, are the main reasons why children are not attending school, according to UNICEF.

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Children living in conflict zones and the world’s poorest areas are disproportionately affected and are far less likely to attend school.

Read More:How You Can Help Us Fix The Education Crisis (and See an Amazing Festival, Too)

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Nearly 20% of the 123 million children missing out on an education live in conflict zones.

In Syria and Iraq alone, where war or conflict zones persist, the number of out-of-school children totals 3.4 million combined. 

Poverty-stricken areas and countries experiences humanitarian emergencies are even more affected and account for 40% of all children out of school.

About 75% of the global out-of-school population is located in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where high rates of poverty, skyrocketing populations, and recurring emergencies like famine, floods, and droughts continue to trouble countries.

In Nigeria alone, 10.5 million school-aged children are out of school, the most of any country in the world. Most of them are girls, and 60% are from the northeastern region of the country where the extremist group Boko Haram has grown in the past eight years.

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Read More:Nigeria Says It Has the Highest Number of Out-of-School Children in the World

Countries that have high rates of children out of school, including Nigeria, have faced criticism for failing to direct funds toward education. Overall, less than 2.7% of all humanitarian aid requests are aimed at improving education, according to UNICEF.

While Bourne acknowledges that more funding is essential to improving education, he warns that funding alone would not be enough to decrease the number of children not receiving an education.

“Investment in education does not respond to the realities of a volatile world,” Bourne said in UNICEF’s report. “Governments and the global community must target their investments at eliminating the factors preventing these children from going to school in the first place, including by making schools safe and improving teaching and learning.”