UNESCO: 263 million children do not attend school

Published July 17th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Zimbabwean children sit in a classroom at a school in Zimbabwa. (AFP/Desmond Kwande)
Zimbabwean children sit in a classroom at a school in Zimbabwa. (AFP/Desmond Kwande)

The United Nations has warned that some 263 million children and young people, equivalent to about a quarter of the population of Europe, are out of school across the world mostly due to poverty, discrimination and violence.

The figure was announced in a report published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday.

“The total number includes 61 million children of primary school age (6-11 years), 60 million of lower secondary school age (12-14 years) and about 142 million of upper secondary school age (15-17 years),” it said.

According to the report, sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest number of children who have an opportunity to attend school, with over a fifth of children of primary school age out of school, followed by a third of youths in the lower secondary age, and almost 60 percent of youths in the upper secondary age.

“Countries have promised to provide every child with a primary and secondary education by 2030. These new findings show the hard work ahead if we are to reach this goal,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

The organization said persistent disparities “linked to sex, location and wealth, as well as armed conflict” are the major barriers to education.

According to the report, girls are more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom.  

Some 15 million girls of primary school age, half of whom hailing from sub-Saharan Africa, will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to about 10 million boys, the report said.



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