Conflict exacerbates already existing inequalities

The EFA GMR’s last report showed that only a third of countries had reached global education goals set in 2000, and identified conflict as one of the major barriers to achieving better results. A new paper out yesterday in time to feed into the upcoming Oslo and Addis conferences shows the extent of the challenges that conflict presents.

conlfict_blog1GMR analysis, based on the most recent household survey data from low and middle income countries, shows that children in war zones are more than twice as likely and adolescents more than two-thirds as likely to be out of school compared with those in countries not affected by conflict.

In conflict-affected settings, children and adolescents are also more likely to leave school early. While on average 75% of children in low and middle income countries not affected by conflict complete their primary education, only 58% of those in conflict affected countries do so. A similar gap exists for secondary education: 55% of enrolled children in countries not affected by conflict complete lower secondary education compared with just 37% in conflict-affected countries and areas.

Inequalities in children’s access and progression through schooling systems are exacerbated in conflict settings. The poorest children are twice as likely to be out of primary school in conflict countries as the poorest children elsewhere. The poorest in conflict affected countries are half as likely to complete lower secondary school as in non-conflict countries as well.

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Click to enlarge

Gaps between the richest and poorest children in completing a primary cycle are also larger in cases of emergencies. In countries not affected by conflict, 57% of children from the poorest households complete primary schooling compared with 89% of children from the richest households. In countries affected by conflict just 39% of the poorest children completing primary schooling as compared with 77% of the richest.

Disparities by region within a country are also evident. Consider the case of Ethiopia. The educational outcomes of children with the same demographic, health and socioeconomic characteristics are much worse if they lived in conflict-affected areas of the country; for example, they are 15% more likely to have never attended school and 21% less likely to have completed primary schooling than those living in regions not affected by conflict.

GMR analysis indicates that conflict also exacerbates gender disparities: girls are almost two and a half times more likely to be out of school if they live in conflict-affected countries or zones, and young women are nearly 90% more likely to be out of secondary school than their counterparts in countries not affected by conflict. There are also distinctive dangers for girls in schools in conflict situations, as exemplified by the disproportionate targeting of girls’ schools during the Afghanistan war or the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls in April 2014.

Evidence also suggests that school-related gender-based violence is amplified in communities where conflict and poverty are pervasive. Direct attacks on schools and elevated levels of sexual violence create an atmosphere of insecurity that leads to a decline in the number of girls attending school.

Access to education and safe learning environments urgently need to be made a priority in conflict-affected countries. Millions of children and adolescents are being deprived of their right to an education that could transform their lives. In the absence of clear policies that mitigate the damaging impact of conflict on education, the global education targets to be adopted at UN Summit on Sustainable Development in September, will not be reached by 2030.

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