The school year that begins this month in almost the entire world will not reach 244 million children between the ages of 6 and 18, according to a UNESCO report, which considers the number unacceptable.
The document, updated this month and quoted today by the United Nations Children’s International Emergency Fund (UNICEF), shows that the figure has greatly decreased compared to the 600 million children who were deprived of school last year, but in 2021 the closures were related to the restrictions imposed in the context of Covid-19.
According to Unicef, the main reason for the non-integration of these children into the education system “is poverty”, a situation that the international organization stresses must be counteracted.
“Education is the best instrument to guarantee a fair chance in life for these children”, says Unicef, in a statement released today.
“Children who are not in school are more at risk of increased exposure to violence, child labor and, particularly in the case of girls and young women, child marriage,” he adds.
“A new school year is starting in many parts of the world. This news should make us happy, but it also reminds us that deep inequalities in access to education persist: 244 million children are still out of school”, said the director-general. from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Audrey Azoulay.
“No one can accept this situation. Education is a right and we must do everything to ensure that this right is respected for all children”, she defended.
According to the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, even among children who have returned to school, there are many who are not learning what they could.
“Many of those who did [go back to school] are not acquiring basic skills”, warn the researchers who prepared the report, pointing out that, in low-income countries, “7 out of 10 children aged 10 years old cannot read a plain text”
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the most children and youth out of school, with a total of 98 million children, and is also the only region in the world where the number is increasing.
In second place on the list is Central and Southeast Asia, with 85 million, while in Latin America and the Caribbean the percentage reach 80%, which is an increase compared to the pre-pandemic.
Despite the fact that the rate of children not going to school is decreasing in most parts of the world, Audrey Azoulay warns of the risks that the number is still so high.
“Given these results, the goal of everyone having quality education by 2030, established by the United Nations, runs the risk of not being achieved”, he warns, adding that “a global mobilization is needed to put education at the top of the international agenda”.
Estimates also show that the gap in the rate of girls and boys out of school has narrowed worldwide.
“The differences of 2.5 percentage points between children of primary school age worldwide and of 3.9 percentage points among young people of secondary school age in 2000 have been reduced to zero”, says Unicef, admitting, however, , that regional disparities persist.
Unicef also mentions, in the statement released today, that, in Portugal, the number of children and young people whose right to education is at risk is around 6,500.
“In Portugal, there are about 6,500 children who, according to the most recent Report of the Commissions for the Protection of Children and Young People (2021), face this situation”, the organization adds, announcing that, to combat these values, it decided to launch a campaign awareness raising and fundraising to combat inequalities in the right and access to education
“Although they are not considered to have dropped out of school (one can only speak of effective dropout when, at the age of 18, the young person leaves school without having finished secondary education), many children and young people in Portugal are, in fact, in a situation of exclusion”, warns Unicef Portugal.
For this reason, the organization launches today the campaign “No Return to School”, which denounces situations of non-compliance with this basic right and calls for the “contribution of donations to combat this phenomenon of exclusion, with very serious repercussions on children and young people and, by, to the whole of society”.
“The covid-19 pandemic has worsened the crisis in education, jeopardizing the full compliance with this right, which is central both in the framework of the Declaration of the Rights of Children and in our Constitution”, recalls the executive director of Unicef Portugal. , Beatriz Imperatori.
“Education systems, at a global level, are not fulfilling their obligations towards children and young people around the world and Portugal is no exception”, he underlines, defending that “the school cannot leave anyone out and the State has the obligation to fulfill, and to enforce, this fundamental right”.
“The non-return to school cannot be normalized, otherwise we will fail thousands of children and young people who deserve special consideration and protection”, she concluded.
Source: With Agencies