(By Estera Popowska)
Two United Nations agencies said on Wednesday that worsening conflicts, poverty and gender discrimination in the Middle East and North Africa are driving 21 million children and young adolescents out of school, Reuters reported.
In a joint report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute of Statistics, said one in four children are either not in school or are at risk of dropping out in a region that has otherwise made significant progress in attendance rates.
Maria Calivis, UNICEF's regional director in the Middle East and North Africa reportedly said “at a time of such change and turmoil, this region simply cannot afford to let 21 million children fall by the wayside.”
According to Reuters, over the past decade the Middle East and North Africa has recorded a 40 per cent drop in the number of out-of-school children. The report seen by Reuters, says more than 12 million children and adolescents are not attending school, with an additional 6 million at risk of dropping out. A further 3 million children are out of school in Syria and Iraq, where conflict has destroyed large parts of the education system, data from the report showed.
The report, which is part of the two agencies' Middle East and North Africa Out-of-School Children Initiative, urged governments to ramp up efforts and devise new policies to tackle school dropouts and gender discrimination in education, among other things.
"We need targeted interventions to reach the families displaced by conflict, the girls forced to stay home and the children obliged to work," said Silvia Montoya, director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (Source: Reuters)