More than 25 million children between 6 and 15 years old, or 22 per cent of children in that age group, are missing out on school in conflict zones across 22 countries, UNICEF said Monday.
At the primary school level, South Sudan has the highest rate of out-of-school children with close to 72 per cent of children missing out on education. It is followed by Chad (50 per cent) and Afghanistan (46 per cent).
The three countries also have the highest rate of girls who are out of school.
At the lower-secondary school level, the highest rates of out-of-school children are found in Niger (68 per cent), South Sudan (60 per cent) and the Central African Republic (55 per cent), Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Out-of-school rates for girls spike for this age group, with nearly three quarters of girls in Niger and two in three in both Afghanistan and the Central African Republic not in school, UNICEF says.
“Conflict can take away your friends, your family, your livelihood, your home. It can try to strip you of your dignity, identity, pride and hope. But it can never take away your knowledge,” said Syrian refugee and education activist Muzoon Almellehan said.