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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 September 2006, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Wars 'robbing youths of school'
Children at a school in Ivory Coast
Only a small number of children in conflict zones enjoy an education
At least 43 million children around the world are unable to go to primary school because of armed conflicts, according to a new report.

Save the Children organisation has launched a global campaign aimed at pressuring world leaders into helping deprived youths into formal education.

The charity wants to get three million children into education by 2010.

Universal primary education by 2015 was one of the Millennium Development Goals signed in 2000 by world leaders.

According to Save the Children, any efforts to increase opportunities for children's education will end in failure if the millions living in conflict zones are not given the same opportunities as those in more peaceful areas.

States affected by conflict will by their nature have more to achieve to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Save the Children says.

While the proportion of women and children among civilians injured or killed in war remains high - at approximately 80%, according to Unicef - the amount of educations aid that reaches those caught up in conflict remains low, Save the Children says.

Without extra aid, dedication and political will, the charity says, few of the millions of children currently out of school will ever receive an education.

Failing states

The countries with the worst education records also have unhappy histories of conflict in recent years.

In Somalia, which remains without a functioning central government, more than 89% of children are not in school.

Mary, a Sudanese schoolgirl

That figure is far worse than even other poorly-performing states, but the numbers remain unacceptable to the charity.

In DR Congo, which recently held democratic elections in the hope of sealing an end to a long-running conflict, just 35% of children attend school.

In Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, 41.7% of children are out of school, according to figures collated by the charity.

And in Nepal, where a Maoist insurgency has dominated rural life for a decade, almost 27% of children are not being educated.

In Angola, Save the Children estimates that as much as $180m (97m) is needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

Rights and wrongs

Rewrite the Future, due to be launched in 40 countries simultaneously, demands that national governments focus on providing facilities for children's' education.

It will also call on major international aid donors and humanitarian agencies to prioritise education provision in times of conflict and conflict resolution.

Key demands of the campaign include:

  • An emphasis on training teachers and improving standards, as well as ensuring that children and teachers are protected from armed violence
  • Increasing the numbers of children, especially girls, in education
  • Teach human rights and promote justice in the school curriculum
  • Ensure that a percentage of funds raised by the UN during emergencies is ring-fenced for education

PRIMARY-AGED CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL
COUNTRY TOTAL NUMBER PERCENTAGE
Somalia 1,580,000 89.2
DR Congo 5,290,000 65.2
Sierra Leone 431,000 59.1
East Timor 75,000 58.6
Eritrea 312,000 57.1
Central African Republic 354,000 57.0
Ethiopia 5,994,000 53.1
Sudan 2,405,000 51.1
Republic of Congo 292,000 47.6
Burundi 536,000 46.5
Haiti 572,000 45.6
Chad 577,000 41.7
Pakistan 7,813,000 39.3
Angola 533,000 38.5
Guinea 493,000 38.1
Nigeria 7,662,000 38.1
Cote d'Ivoire 955,000 36.2
Afghanistan 1,139,000 33.3
Liberia 142,000 30.1
Papua New Guinea 231,000 27.0
Nepal 1,049,000 26.8
Iraq 818,000 22.2
Uganda 1,068,000 21.1
Uzbekistan 491,000 19.7
Zimbabwe 498,000 19.5
Burma 968,000 18.1
Rwanda 206,000 15.7
Cambodia 301,000 13.6
Colombia 497,000 10.6
Sri Lanka 22,000 1.4
Source: Save the Children





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