UN calls for action over education crisis, 258M out-of-school kids

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has called for action regarding the increasing number in education crisis of out of school children.

According to Mrs. Mohammed, there is an “alarming” increase in an education crisis, as data reveals that 258 million children under the age of 17 are not going to school, and only 49 percent are currently completing secondary education.

She made this declaration while addressing the UN General Assembly on the International Day of Education, where she explained that about 770 million adults are illiterate, most of them women.

The UN deputy chief added that the current education crisis is “alarming,” not only because of the millions who aren’t getting an education, but also “because of the crisis in the number of children, young people, and adults who are in school, but not learning.

Gordon Brown, former British prime minister and UN special envoy for education, said he was shocked that more than 400 million children leave school entirely at age 11 or 12.

He further expressed disbelief that over 800 million children are out of the education system without any qualifications to their name.

Brown noted that one of the reasons why the education crisis is currently “so grave” is that there are over 75 million children in crisis-affected countries who are unable to go to school.

Adding that some already have their education disrupted and don’t attain any educational standards, because of regional conflict.

First global fund for the education crisis

Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education, explained that there’s a first global fund dedicated to the education crisis in the emergency regions.

Sherif, while speaking to reporters, said, the world needs to think of what will happen with this generation, and the world as a whole, if these 75 million children don’t access a proper, decent quality and continued education.

She noted that so far, the education crisis fund has received pledges of almost $590 million since it began three years ago.

The fund is currently helping kids and young adults in 30 conflict and crisis-affected countries, namely Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, among others.

Former British PM, who chairs the fund’s high-level steering group, said it is crucial for all levels of education.

He noted only a fraction of refugees (1-3 percent) go on to higher education, compared, for with Syria, where it was 20 percent before the conflict began in 2011.

UN goal for 2030

The UN goal for 2030, according to their press release, is to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande told the UN at the event that “there has been an increase in school enrollment rates worldwide.

He further commends and applauded structures put in place to eradicate the current education crisis.

Muhammad-Bande said:

While this is commendable, it is unacceptable that 20 years into the 21st century about 258 million children and youth do not attend school, 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, and people with disabilities are out of school.

He called this “a blight” and urged governments to ensure access to free and quality primary and secondary education, as well as affordable and inclusive vocational and technical education.

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Director-General Audrey Azoulay said not only do we need massive investment, but an overhaul of educational systems is necessary.

Azoulay added that we need to rethink education and prepare the coming generation to deal with significant issues like the digital revolution and the climate emergency.

Notably, UNESCO appointed a commission of independent experts last September led by Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde to produce a report in November 2021 on the Futures of Education.