Four million refugee children in the world do not attend school and the total has increased dramatically, the UN High Commission for Refugees said in a report released on Wednesday.
It said the figure had grown by half a million children in just one year.
The report, entitled: “Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis,” showed that in spite of the efforts of governments, the UNHCR and its partners, enrolment of refugee children in school was not keeping pace with the growing refugee population.
The report said by the end of 2017, there were more than 25.4 million refugees around the world.
It said that more than half of the refugees — 52 per cent — were children and among them, 7.4 million were of school age.
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Education is a way to help children heal, but it is also key to rebuilding their countries.
“Without education, the future of these children and their communities will be irrevocably damaged.”
According to the report, a mere 61 per cent of refugee children attend primary school, compared to 92 per cent of children globally.
It said as refugee children get older, this gap grows.
It said: “Nearly two-thirds of refugee children, who go to primary school do not make it to secondary school. In total, 23 per cent of refugee children attend secondary school, compared to 84 per cent 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 in the report.
The report urged host countries to enroll refugee children in national education systems all the way through primary and secondary school, to allow for recognised qualifications that could lead to university or higher vocational training.
It further noted that countries in developing regions host 92 per cent of the world’s school-age refugees and needed more sustained financial support from the international community.