Achieving SDG4 for Children and Youth Affected by Crisis
With the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), the global community committed to ensuring a quality education for all children and youth. Despite this promise, children and youth in crisis contexts continue to be neglected. We will never achieve SDG4 unless all children and youth affected by conflict and crisis are able to access and attend school and learn in a quality, safe, relevant and inclusive education environment. There is an urgent need for governments and the international community to make and adhere to political, financial and legal commitments if we truly are to leave no child behind.
More children and youth than ever before are now displaced and for longer periods of time, and they disproportionately lack access to quality education and other basic rights. Approximately 420 million children are currently living in a conflict zone, an increase of nearly 30 million since 2016 and a doubling since the end of the Cold War. Moreover, the average length of a crisis is now nine years.
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 262 million (1 out of every 5) children, adolescents and youth were out of school worldwide in both development and humanitarian contexts in 2017. This included 64 million children of primary school age, 61 million adolescents of lower secondary school age and 138 million youth of upper secondary school age.2
According to UNHCR figures from 2018, only 61 percent of refugee children attended primary school, compared with a global average of 92 percent. As refugee children get older, the obstacles to education increase: just 23 percent of refugee children were enrolled in secondary school, compared to 84 percent globally. The situation is critical in higher education, as only 1 percent of refugees attend a university, compared to 37 percent globally.
Girls living in conflict are almost two and a half times more likely than boys to be out of primary school and 90 percent more likely than their counterparts to be excluded from secondary education.
Funding for education in crisis contexts is suffering because education is not seen as a priority for humanitarian aid, and because development donors do not always see the clear link between development and crisis contexts. Despite the tripling of humanitarian financial assistance in recent years, the share of the total that goes to education has barely risen, standing at a mere 2.3 percent in 2018.
Despite efforts to build a strong foundation that can demonstrate the positive impact of education in emergencies, practitioners and policy makers continue to lack substantial evidence on what works, how, for whom and at what cost. The evidence that does exist has largely failed to translate into coherent, coordinated policy and practice by governments and their partners in terms of how to deliver quality education in emergencies at scale.
This brief offers recommendations for addressing the disparities in safe, quality, inclusive education for children affected by crisis. It begins by highlighting key areas for policy and practice, and looks at ways to use the various tools developed by the Inter-agency Network of Education in Emergencies (INEE). It takes a look at overall themes and trends, as well as the specific issues of gender disparities, the importance of supporting teachers, children’s psycho-social wellbeing and the protection and safety of education in conflict.