24 April 2017 – Conflict and violence has driven more than 25 million children between 6 and 15 years old – about 22 per cent of children in that age group – from schools in warzones across 22 countries, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.

“At no time is education more important than in times of war,” Josephine Bourne, the Chief of Education at UNICEF, said in a news release issued today.

“Without education, how will children reach their full potential and contribute to the future and stability of their families, communities and economies?”

Schools also provide a safe haven to children, protecting them from risks of abuse, exploitation and recruitment by armed groups. However, in numerous conflict zones around the globe, the number of children out of school is increasing dramatically.

According to UNICEF, at the primary school level, South Sudan has the highest rate of out-of-school children with close to 72 per cent of children missing out on education, followed by Chad (50 per cent) and Afghanistan (46 per cent).

These three countries also account for highest rate of girls who are out of school, at 76 per cent for South Sudan, Afghanistan (55 per cent) and Chad (53 per cent).

Similarly, at the lower-secondary level, the highest rates are in Niger (68 per cent), South Sudan (60 per cent) and the Central African Republic (55 per cent).

Out-of-school rates for girls spike for this age group: Nearly three quarters of girls in Niger and two in three in both Afghanistan and the Central African Republic are not in school.