UN: Half of Refugee Children Do Not Go to School

    03 September, 2019

    The United Nations refugee agency says that more than half of the world's 3.7 million refugee children do not go to school.

    The UNHCR said that means these children will not gain the skills they need to build a valuable future.

    FILE - Rohingya children look into the makeshift classroom at Camp 4 in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Mar. 29, 2019. (Hai Do/VOA)
    FILE - Rohingya children look into the makeshift classroom at Camp 4 in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Mar. 29, 2019. (Hai Do/VOA)

    The UNHCR found that as refugee children get older, fewer go to school. The report said that 63 percent of refugee children go to primary school. That is compared to 91 percent for children around the world. However, only one in four refugee teenagers gets a secondary education, compared to 84 percent of teenagers worldwide.

    The U.N. refugee agency said a lack of money is keeping the refugee children out of school.

    UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, called the failure to invest in refugee education unwise. She said this is not only sad, but also foolish.

    "Not investing in refugees, people who have fled warzones, people who have fled countries where the world is interested in the future of peace is not investing—very simply—in the future of its people ..."

    The UNHCR supports a new program aimed at quickly starting up secondary education efforts for refugees. The program will seek to build and repair schools, train teachers and provide financial support to help refugee families pay for the expenses of sending their children to school.

    Mamadou Dian Balde is UNHCR deputy director of the Department of Resilience and Solutions. He told VOA that some small, secondary education projects for refugee teens will begin before the full programs get started.

    He said efforts will start in a "resolute" way, in a number of countries in the eastern Horn of Africa and in Asia. Then the program will extend to more countries. He said officials will take into consideration the limited amount of resources that are available for such a program.

    The UNHCR said making this program a reality will take a large amount of money. However, the agency said it will start with $250 million to increase the number of refugees in secondary education.

    I'm Anne Ball.

    Lisa Shlein wrote this story for VOA News. Anne Ball adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    primary school – n. a school for young children

    secondary school – n. high school

    resilience – n. the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens

    resolute – adj. very determined : having or showing a lot of determination