Four million refugee children in the world do not attend school and the total has increased dramatically, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said in a report released Wednesday.
The figure has grown by half a million children in just one year, said the agency.
The report, Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis, shows that despite the efforts of governments, the UNHCR and its partners, enrolment of refugee children in school is not keeping pace with the growing refugee population.
By the end of 2017, there were more than 25.4 million refugees around the world.
More than half of the refugees, 52 per cent, were children and among them, 7.4 million were of school age.
“Education is a way to help children heal, but it is also key to rebuilding their countries,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Without education, the future of these children and their communities will be irrevocably damaged.”
A mere 61 per cent of refugee children attend primary school, compared to 92 per cent of children globally.
As refugee children get older, this gap grows, according to the report.
Nearly two-thirds of refugee children who go to primary school do not make it to secondary school. In total, 23 percent of refugee children attend secondary school, compared to 84 percent of children globally.
At the tertiary level, the gap changes to a chasm.
Globally, enrolment in higher education is 37 per cent, while only one per cent of refugees have the same opportunity, which has not changed in three years.
Based on current patterns, unless an urgent investment is made, hundreds of thousands more children will join “these disturbing statistics”, said Grandi.
The report urges host countries to enroll refugee children in national education systems all the way through primary and secondary school, to allow for recognized qualifications that can lead to university or higher vocational training.
It further notes that countries in developing regions host 92 per cent of the world’s school-aged refugees and need more sustained financial support from the international community.