UNICEF: More il­lit­er­acy in young peo­ple fac­ing in­sta­bil­ity

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

NEARLY 30 per­cent of young peo­ple be­tween the ages of 15 and 24 in coun­tries af­fected by con­flict and dis­as­ter are il­lit­er­ate, triple the global rate, the U.N. chil­dren’s agency said Wednesday.

UNICEF said in a new study that among th­ese 59 mil­lion young peo­ple, girls are at the big­gest dis­ad­van­tage when it comes to get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion.

It said four im­pov­er­ished African coun­tries with a long his­tory of in­sta­bil­ity had the high­est rates of young peo­ple un­able to read or write — Niger with 76 per­cent, Chad with 69 per­cent, South Su­dan with 68 per­cent and Cen­tral African Repub­lic with 64 per­cent.

“Th­ese num­bers are a stark re­minder of the tragic im­pact that crises have on chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion, their fu­tures, and the sta­bil­ity and growth of their economies and so­ci­eties,” said UNICEF’S new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Hen­ri­etta Fore. “An un­e­d­u­cated child who grows into an il­lit­er­ate youth in a coun­try ripped apart by con­flict or de­stroyed by dis­as­ters may not have much of a chance.”

UNICEF said it used the last data from the UNESCO In­sti­tute for Sta­tis­tics to cal­cu­late il­lit­er­acy rates among young peo­ple aged 15 to 24 in 27 of the 32 coun­tries where the chil­dren’s agency has launched hu­man­i­tar­ian ap­peals. Com­pa­ra­ble data was not avail­able for the five other coun­tries, it said.

UNICEF said that de­spite the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of school­ing for boys and girls, only 3.6 per­cent of hu­man­i­tar­ian fund­ing goes to­ward pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren liv­ing in emer­gen­cies, mak­ing it one of the least funded sec­tors in hu­man­i­tar­ian ap­peals.

Over­all, the agency es­ti­mates it will spend ap­prox­i­mately $1 bil­lion a year on ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams over the next four years.

UNICEF urged gov­ern­ments and other part­ners to pro­vide young chil­dren with ac­cess to qual­ity early ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, of­fer il­lit­er­ate young peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to learn to read and write, and in­crease in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly for the most dis­ad­van­taged.

“For all chil­dren to fully reap the ben­e­fits of learn­ing, it is key that they get the best qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble, as early as pos­si­ble,” Fore said. – AP

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