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Half of the world's refugee children out of school: UNHCR

Half of refugee children are out of school [AFP:Getty]

Date of publication: 3 September, 2020

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Half of all refugee children are out of school, notes the UNHCR's latest report.
The UN Refugee Council (UNHCR) has warned about the dire effects of the coronavirus pandemic on refugee children's access to education. 

Half of all refugee children are out of school, notes the UNHCR's latest report entitled "Coming Together for Refugee Children".

The council called for immediate action from the international community to ensure refugee children can access schooling. 

"Half of the world's refugee children were already out of school," said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today," he added.

"Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years."

While the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the education of children in every country, the UNHCR explains, refugee children have been particularly hard hit. 

And refugee children were already struggling to access coronavirus before the coronavirus crisis, with a refugee child twice as likely to be out of school than their non-refugee counterparts. 

Grandi said he is particularly concerned about the education of refugee girls. The Malala Fund estimates, based on UNHCR data, that as a result of Covid-19 half of refugee girls will not return to secondary school classrooms when they reopen.

"Not only is education a human right, but the protection and economic benefits to refugee girls, their families, and their communities of education are clear. The international community simply cannot afford to fail to provide them with the opportunities that come through education," he said.

Despite the many challenges, the UNHCR also drew attention to the inspiring work of refugees and educators during the pandemic. 

"From refugees and host communities to teachers, private sector partners, national and local authorities, innovators and humanitarian agencies… all have found numerous ways to keep education going in the face of the pandemic," Grandi said.

"It has been a demonstration of partnership, generosity, and creative thinking, allied to the passion and determination of millions of young people."

Read more: Coronavirus fears have triggered 'alarming' mental health crisis for displaced children

The UNHCR report draws on 2019 data, which looks at the 12 countries hosting more than half of the world's refugee children.

The gross enrolment of refugee children in school falls dramatically from primary school (77 percent) to secondary school (31 percent), UNHCR data shows.

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