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Two Million Children Unable to Return to School in West and Central Africa

As the security situation continues to deteriorate across West and Central Africa, schools are forcibly closing causing children to miss out on education. Photo credit: Victoria Zegler / Save the Children.
As the security situation continues to deteriorate across West and Central Africa, schools are forcibly closing causing children to miss out on education. Photo credit: Victoria Zegler / Save the Children.

More than 2 million children are unable to return to school due to ongoing security risks across the West and Central African region. There are an estimated 9,288 schools closed and 44,000 teachers who will not be able to reach their classrooms, while schools are starting again.

In Burkina Faso, one of the affected countries, the rapid deterioration of the security situation has led to the closure of more than 2,024[ii] schools today, compared to 1,284 in March of this year. Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, DRC, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria are facing similar challenges.

Education is increasingly targeted across the region, and particularly in the central Sahel. Armed groups are attacking schools, burning, or even occupying them for military purposes or by internally displaced peoples. Children and teachers are being attacked on the way to school and at school.

Humanitarian operations are confronted with conflicts and insecurity, presenting challenges in providing much-needed support to communities who face increasing violations.

With their education interrupted, children risk dropping out of school and risk exposure to protection concerns such as recruitment into armed groups, violence, abuse, exploitation and gender-based violence. These risks further increase for young girls, in times of crisis.

Studies conducted by Save the Children in the region show that even during crisis situations, the primary priority for children and youth is to return to school.

Twelve year-old Ibrahim* from Mali said: “I was afraid of losing my mother because I already had no father. The whole village was destroyed; I went to the village school, which was also destroyed. When we came to this village, the principal of the school informed my uncle that I could continue school. This was good news because I love school and it is important to have an education. I have new friends with whom I have a good time. Later I want to become a minister.”

Most of these countries affected by humanitarian crises already have low levels of development and fragile education systems that are unable to adapt in times of crisis. Systemic solutions are urgently needed to ensure children can continue their learning, to prevent us from losing another generation.

“Violent internal conflicts, insecurity, natural disasters, epidemics such as Ebola, are troubles that we regularly hear about,” said Philippe Adapoe Regional Director of Save the Children for West and Central Africa.

 “But do we ask ourselves what the consequences are for children and young people in the areas affected by these multiple crises?”

Save the Children is calling for governments, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations to find ways to ensure children can enjoy their right to education even in times of crisis. The international community should also increase funding for education in the humanitarian response. So far, of the $222 million[iv] required, only $61 million, or 27.52 percent was allocated to education in emergencies in the region.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

[ii] Source : OCHA
[iv] According to the UN’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS)

[i][i]Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.[/i][/i]

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