Children across the globe have struggled with their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic whereas refugee children have been particularly disadvantaged with half of them out of school.
Even before the pandemic, a refugee child was twice as likely to be out of school as a non-refugee child. But with the world badly impacted with covid pandemic, the situation is going to worsen, Several of the children may not have opportunities to resume their studies due to school closures, difficulties affording fees, uniforms or books, lack of access to technologies or because they are being required to work to support their families, according to a UNHCR Report “Coming Together for Refugee Education”.
The UNHCR has predicted that the potential of millions of young refugees will be further threatened if immediate and bold action is not taken by the international community to beat back the catastrophic effects of COVID-19 on refugee education.
PROTECTING THE GAINS
Noting that half of the world’s refugee children were already out of school, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said “after everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today. Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years.”
Meanwhile, UNHCR Ambassador for Instant Network Schools programme Mohamed Salah said that ensuring quality education today meant less poverty and suffering tomorrow. “Unless everyone plays their part, generations of children – millions of them in some of the world’s poorest regions – will face a bleak future. But if we work as a team, as one, we can give them the chance they deserve to have a dignified future. Let’s not miss this opportunity,” Salah said.
The report is based on the data from twelve countries that hosts more than half of the world’s refugee children. As of now, 77 per cent gross enrollment is seen in primary school and 31 per cent of youth are enrolled in secondary school. Only three per cent of the refugee children are enrolled for higher education. Enrollment in secondary education rose with tens of thousands of refugee children newly attending school in 2019. When all these achievements have been made, the report said that Covid -19 could reverse the advances made.
When talking of refugee girl education, the report said that girls already have less access to education than boys and are half as likely to be enrolled in school by the time they reach secondary level.
Expressing serious concern with respect to education of refugee girls, Grandi noted that education was not only a human right but it was protection and economic benefits to refugee girls, their families, and their communities of education. “The international community simply cannot afford to fail to provide them with the opportunities that come through education,” Grandi said.
The refugee children, who live mainly in developing or least developed countries, have several limitations. At a time of online education, the refugee children have no access to mobile phones, laptops, tablets, connectivity and even radio sets.
Meanwhile, the report has also called on governments, civil society, private sector and other key stakeholders to join forces to find solutions to strengthen national education systems.