Proportion of Out-of-School Children in Selected Countries (%)

Conflict-Affected Not in Conflict

Sources: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and UNICEF (2015). Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children. Montreal: UIS.

Armed conflict is one of the most devastating barriers to education.

In some regions, political upheaval and war cause conflict. In other areas, conflict is perpetuated violence linked to organized crime, drugs and gang warfare. About 36 per cent of children of the total global share of out-of-school children of primary school age — 59.3 million — are deprived of their basic right to education as a result of conflict. More than 13 million live in the Middle East, another 5.3 million are affected by conflict in the South Asia region.

Conflict creates some obvious threats to education including the loss of life and the destruction or repurposing of schools. But conflict also leads to the dispersion of communities, deficits of teachers and heightened security concerns – all of which make education hard to sustain. The cumulative impact is months and years of missed learning.

For instance, 2 years of conflict in Syria erased 15 years of progress in education.

Conflict is a huge barrier to education

In addition, the loss of educational opportunities exposes children to dangers including sexual exploitation, physical attack and recruitment into armed groups – dangers that further reduce a child’s chance of getting an education.

Families displaced by war often plunge deeper into poverty, forcing children into the workforce rather than school.
Conflict also impacts physical and emotional health, which limit school attendance and performance and threaten children’s future development.

Children of Syria are not giving up on learning


    Methods for providing learning in difficult and dangerous environments include:

  • Non-formal and second-chance education programmes
  • Increased security measures in and on the way to school
  • Temporary schools
  • Distance learning programmes

Providing learning opportunities in conflict-affected regions demands increased international commitment to financing education as part of humanitarian responses. However, less than 2 per cent of humanitarian aid has been earmarked for education over the past 10 years – far below the amounts requested. There is a global finance gap of at least $4.8 billion per year – an average of just $74 per child – for the educational support needed by the estimated 65 million children affected by crises.