224 Million Children Miss Quality Education

Armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change and other crises increased the number of crisis-impacted children in need of urgent quality education to 224 million, according to a new Global Estimates Study.

The study by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) offers a refined methodology in calculating the numbers of crisis-impacted children in need of educational support. It also provides trends and analysis to inform future investments in education in emergencies and protracted crises.

ECW is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.


“We are sounding the alarm bells worldwide, once more. Millions of children are being denied their human right to an education and the numbers are growing. And even when they are able to go to school, they are not really learning because the quality of education is simply too low. Education Cannot Wait and all the education community are working against time. It is a sprint for humanity. How many more facts and figures, and above all, human suffering, do we need before we act with boldness and determination to finance education and invest in humanity?” said YasmineSherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait.

About 72 million of the crisis-impacted children in the world are out of school. Out of this, 53% are girls, 17% have functional difficulties, and 21% (about 15 million) have been forcibly displaced. Approximately half of all out-of-school children in emergencies are concentrated in only eight countries: Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Mali and Nigeria.


The study says that the problem relates to quality. More than half of these children — 127 million — are not achieving the minimum proficiencies outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4). The SDG4 calls for inclusive, quality education for all. Even when crisis-impacted children are in school, they are not learning to read or do basic math, the study said.


Girls consistently show a strong learning potential whenever they are given the opportunity. Even in crises, the proportion of girls who achieve minimum proficiency in reading is consistently higher than that of their male counterparts, according to analysis from the study.

Nevertheless, gender disparities in education access and transition become more pronounced in secondary education and are largest in high-intensity crises. They are particularly significant in Afghanistan, Chad, South Sudan and Yemen, according to the study.


The biggest challenges are hitting the children of Africa. Approximately 54% of crisis-affected children worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa. The region experienced a large-scale increase in the number of children affected by crises, primarily driven by large-scale droughts in Eastern Africa and the increasing intensity of several conflicts. The outbreak of civil war in Sudan is displacing even more people across the continent.


  • Only 25 million crisis-affected children are in school and achieving minimum proficiency levels in both reading and mathematics.
  • Out-of-school rates amongst forcibly displaced populations in crisis-affected countries remain alarmingly high at around 58% for children of school age.
  • Approximately 14.5 million crisis-affected children have functional difficulties and are not attending school. Of these, about 76% (around 11 million) are concentrated in high-intensity crises.
  • Access to secondary education in crisis-affected areas is inadequate, with approximately one-third of children in the lower secondary school age group being out of school. Additionally, nearly half of the children in the upper secondary school age group who are affected by crises are unable to access education.
  • At least 25 million crisis-affected children aged 3 to the end of the expected completion of upper secondary education are estimated to be left out of interagency plans and appeals (9.4% of the global total).
  • A comparative analysis of crisis-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa indicates the pace of learning could be, on average, about 6 times slower in conflict-affected countries, compared to countries affected by recurring natural disasters for children aged 7 to 14.
  • There is a correlation between the risks posed by climate change and the severity of crises. Approximately 83% of out-of-school children in emergencies globally and around 75% of children who attend school but face learning deprivation live in countries with a Climate Change Risk Index higher than the global median value of 6.4.


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