2 Million Syrian Children Are Not Going to School, UN Says

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Flo Smith / NurPhoto / Corbis

Syrian children at the Quru Gusik refugee camp, Erbil Iraq, Aug. 29, 2013.

Nearly two million Syrian children — virtually an entire generation of the country’s kids — have dropped out of school over the last year, the UN said Friday, presenting yet another grim marker of the devastation caused by the country’s more than two-year-old civil war.

The figure represents almost 40 percent of all Syrian children in grades one through nine.

“For a country that was close to achieving universal primary education before the conflict started, the numbers are staggering,” Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the statement. “Displacement, violence, fear and instability are robbing hundreds of thousands of children of the joy of learning.” More than 6 million Syrians, over a fourth of the population, have been displaced from their homes, the UN said Tuesday, including 2 million people who have fled the country entirely.

Many are among the one million child refuges who have fled Syria and have not found proper schooling in their new country. A third or less of the Syrian children in neighboring Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan are in formal schooling.

In the Za’taari refugee camp in Jordan, the world’s second largest and fastest growing such camp, 12,000 of the 30,000 school-aged children in the camp are registered for school. Human rights groups are scrambling to provide education resources and ensure access. The UN said last month that organizations have ensured education for more than 118,000 children as part of a broader humanitarian effort that it called the largest ever.

But education remains among the least funded missions, UNICEF said. Of the $161 million in requested aid for education, only $51 million has been received.