Education seldom figures in assessments of the damage inflicted by conflict. International attention and the media invariably focus on the most immediate images of humanitarian suffering, not on the hidden costs and lasting legacies of violence. Yet nowhere are those costs and legacies more evident than in education.
Across many of the world’s poorest countries, armed conflict continues to destroy not just school infrastructure, but also the hopes and ambitions of a whole generation of children.
Globally, the number of children out of school has fallen, from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011. But the benefits of this progress have not reached children in conflict-affected countries. These children make up 22% of the world’s primary school aged population, yet they comprise 50% of children who are denied an education, a proportion that has increased from 42% in 2008.
Yet new analysis by the EFA Global Monitoring Report team shows that the share of humanitarian aid for education has declined. In 2012, education accounted for just 1.4% of humanitarian aid, down from 2.2% in 2009.
Education suffers from a double disadvantage, not only receiving a small share overall, but also receiving the smallest proportion of the amount requested of any sector. In 2012, of the modest amount requested for education for humanitarian crises, only 26% was received, leaving a funding gap of US$221 million.
This decline in humanitarian aid for education is especially unfortunate because funds are needed more than ever. Humanitarian crises are escalating in several parts of the world. There were 15.4 million refugees by the end of 2012 — more than there have been since 1994. The majority of refugees flee to neighbouring developing countries, whose education systems are already weak and face limited capacity to support new populations. For every refugee, there are two internally displaced people, who are often even less protected. Children make up 46% of those who have been forcibly displaced. These girls and boys face a disruption of their learning process at a critical time — and the risk of a lifetime of disadvantage as a result.