UN report says armed conflict affecting goal of Education for All

09:55, March 02, 2011      

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Over 28 million of 67 million children out of school globally live in 35 countries are affected by armed conflict, which is one of the most serious bottlenecks for reaching the goal of Education for All (EFA) by 2015, a UN report shows.

The report which was published in Nairobi on Tuesday said the education of the poor and girls is the most seriously affected by armed conflict.

Senior Policy Analyst of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report at the UNESCO Pauline Rose cited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) as saying that half of the girls in the conflict-affected areas in the country attended school for no more than two years in total.

"One reason why girls do not attend school is the increased risk of encountering sexual violence on the way to school. There were over 9,000 reported cases of rape in 2009 alone, one third of which involved children," Rose said in Nairobi during the launch of the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

"Shocking as they are, the figures on children out of school grossly underestimate the full impact of armed conflict on education, where civilians, including children, are often caught in the cross-fire of armed conflict or even deliberately targeted. "

The EFA Global Monitoring Report is the annual education reference published by UNESCO and tracks the global, regional and national progress of countries towards the Education for All goals by 2015. Over 160 countries signed up to this document by 2000.

Rose said targeting of civilians leads to vast number of people being forced to flee their homes.

"When they are forced to flee, they do not only leave their livelihoods behind, but also their opportunities for education. Many refugees do not leave in camps but in informal settlements in urban areas."

She said the lack of official papers to these refugees limit their access to education and the right to work, which result in lack of funds to allow them to send children to school.

The policy analyst said the hopes and aspirations for education of those caught up in conflict are not met by international agencies that often see education in these situations as a luxury rather than necessity.

"The skewed priorities of aid donors are reflected in their spending patterns where military spending far exceeds the spending on education. Six days of military spending by some of the world's richest countries is enough to put all children into school," she said. Rose said limited education opportunities and the "wrong type" of education is fanning flames of conflict in many countries.

The report identifies four failures in international cooperation that are creating the hidden crisis in education as failures of protection, failures of provision, failures of reconstruction and failures of peace building and suggested a solution to each failure.

Source: Xinhua

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