Children learn to write in the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou
Children learn to write in the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos island, Greece | Photo: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou

More than 3.7 million refugee children worldwide didn't have the chance to go to school in the last academic year, according to a new report by the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The report, titled 'Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis', was published on Tuesday.

Here are some key findings: 
  • Only 63% of refugee children attend elementary school, compared to 91% on a global scale. 
  • Only 24% of refugee adolescents are enrolled in secondary school, compared to 84% worldwide. 
  • As children become older, it becomes increasingly difficult to overcome barriers to education. 
"We cannot and we must not allow [refugee] children to be forced to give up their education, because school is the main, and in many cases the only, resource that each child has for survival, above all in emergency situations," UNHCR spokesperson Carlotta Samin said.

Refugee girls particularly affected

According to the report, female refugee children and teens are even less likely to get an education than their male peers -- they often have to take care of the home and younger siblings. 

Here's what the UNHCR found with regards to the education of refugee girls: 
  • If all girls finished primary school, child marriage would be reduced by 14%.
  • If all girls completed secondary school, child marriages would decline by 64%. 
  • If all girls completed secondary school, there would be 59% fewer pregnancies of girls younger than 17 years old.
  • If all girls completed secondary school, the maternal mortality rate would be reduced by 70%.
  • If  all girls in Sub-Saharan Africa could complete high school in the next 10 years, there would be about three million fewer child deaths by 2050.
  • If all mothers could successfully complete secondary school, there would be about 12 million fewer children with growth disorders.
 

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