© UNICEF/UKLA2012-01012/Schermbrucker

© UNICEF/UKLA2012-01012/Schermbrucker

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has made substantial progress in reducing the number of children who do not attend school in the last decade, bringing hope and new opportunity to millions. Nevertheless, there is still unfinished business and in recent years, progress has stalled.

4.9 million primary school-aged children and 3.7 million lower secondary school-aged children are still not in school. If we add one year of pre-primary education – the foundation on which a child’s future learning is built – a staggering 13.7 million children across 20 countries are being left behind. And according to recent calculations, over 6 million children are at risk of dropping out. Furthermore, almost six million Syrian and Iraqi children are out of school as a result of conflict, which has destroyed large parts of the education system in Syria and Iraq. This means that one in every four children and young adolescents (that is, almost 23 million) in the region are either out of school or at risk of dropping out.

Regional and country factsheets on education in the Middle East and North Africa will let you learn more about the out-of-school children situation in this part of the world.

The out-of-school children are often those affected by conflict, the poorest, girls, those who live in rural areas and those from minority communities. Keeping children in school is also a major challenge, particularly in lower secondary school, where millions of children across the region are at risk of dropping out.

Watch the video below explaining why education exclusion is linked to a dropout crisis in the region.

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Serious barriers to education in the region include low education quality, poverty and child labour, persistent gender inequalities and conflict in the region, which has significantly hindered children’s opportunities to attend school and threatened the future of a generation.

Countries in the region that participate in the Out-of-School Children Initiative include:

Find out more on the Out-of-School Children Initiative’s work and the children who do not attend school in the region by downloading the new regional report, an executive summary of the report, and country reports (see above). For a quick overview, explore the regional and country factsheets available in three languages.

Check out the latest report developed by UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Office about How Conflict in the Middle East is Depriving Children of Their Schooling.

Learn more about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Out-of-School Children Initiative’s (OOSCI) work and the children who do not attend school in the region on the UNICEF’s new education microsite. Also please visit MENA website to learn more about the work that is being done to advance the rights of children in the region.