The U.N. refugee agency reports 4 million refugee children are missing out on an education, a situation that bodes ill for their future and for the well-being of the communities in which they live. The UNHCR has launched a new report “Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis.”
The U.N. refugee agency reports enrollment of refugee children in school is not keeping pace with the growing refugee population, which has reached unprecedented levels. Globally, the UNHCR cares for nearly 20 million refugees, and more than one-half are children.
This means the number of refugee children needing to go to school also has risen. But this is not happening.
UNHCR Senior Education Advisor Ita Sheehy says 61 percent of refugee children are attending primary school, dropping dramatically to 23 percent for secondary school. This, she underscores, is compared with 84 percent of children globally.
“So, if we put those figures together, we know that a refugee child is five times more likely than any other child not to be in school," said Sheehy. "This gets much worse as we get up to higher education levels, and we are again seeing that the percentage of one percent of refugees going to university has not increased in the past year despite all of the efforts.”
The report notes 92 percent of all refugees are hosted in developing countries. It says this poses problems because these poor countries have little money to provide quality education for their own children, let alone for refugee children.
The UNHRC is urging host countries to enroll refugee children in their national school systems. It says putting these two groups together will result in a better educational result rather than keeping them in separate, parallel systems.
The agency is calling on the international community to invest in refugee children’s education. At the same time, it urges donors to provide sustained financial support to improve the school systems in the developing host countries.