Barriers to Education: Countries in Conflict vs. Children’s Education
Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly, children living in poverty face myriad barriers to receiving an education. While a lack of funding and physical resources are two of the more obvious and significant roadblocks, it’s also the region or country in which a child lives that can considerably impact his or her chances of receiving an education. To begin to solve such a pervasive challenge, it is crucial to recognize how severely affected education systems are in war-torn and natural disaster-prone countries.
In countries experiencing conflict and natural disasters, children are frequently forced into displacement; as a result, they cannot receive essential resources, such as hygiene or health services or even basic schooling. This issue is a prevailing one in our world today. According to a recent UNICEF report, there were 12 million new displacements of children in 2019 due to conflict and violence as well as natural disasters . When families are forced to move to displacement camps, any education a child was receiving is typically abandoned. As stated by the Global Citizen article, “10 Barriers to Education,” education is hardly a priority in humanitarian aid to conflict countries as “less than 3% of global humanitarian assistance was allocated to education in 2016” .
School is meant to be a place for learning and development, but it is also meant to be a safe space for children. When children do not have access to that safe space due to war or natural disasters, they are likely to remain on a path of poverty and oftentimes violence. Additionally, children who do not receive an education are “vulnerable to child recruitment, child marriage, child labor, and other abuses,” according to the Human Rights Watch article, “Dispatches: Education a Casualty of War” . For this reason, along with the fact that many schools are actually destroyed as a result of violent conflicts—sometimes in targeted attacks—education is considered a casualty of war.
Global Citizen states that there are more than 75 million children and adolescents in “urgent need of educational support in 35 crisis-affected countries.” Young girls who are living in such conflict locations are 90% more likely to be absent from secondary school than anywhere else. While these statistics are alarming, there is a significant opportunity for solving this crisis, one that requires government involvement by countries experiencing armed conflict. By endorsing and investing in the Safe Schools Declaration, the only inter-governmental political agreement that outlines a set of commitments to strengthen the protection of education from attack and restrict use of schools and universities for military purposes, countries can begin to break down these barriers to education.
Though the Safe Schools Declaration can provide protection for schools in war-affected countries, there is still the challenge of natural disasters and the consequent displacement of families. Human Rights Watch claims that in Haiti, for example, as of January 2019, “nearly 35,000 people, more than half of them women and children, lived in displacement camps formed after a 2010 earthquake” .
What’s of greater concern is that authorities often fail to assist people in resettling or returning to their homes, even after years of hardship. Natural disasters don’t just create short-term trauma and destruction; they create enduring obstacles as families remain in displacement camps and children go without the academic and social benefits of an education.
Children around the world continue to face barriers to education as a result of conflict—natural and man-made—in their home countries. While profound inter-governmental commitments such as the Safe Schools Declaration can make significant and meaningful impact, you, too, can help alleviate the despair of underprivileged children and underserved educational systems around the world by supporting Yours Humanly.
We believe that every child everywhere has the right to an education in a safe and nurturing environment. We are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children who suffer from a lack of education. You can help us help them by donating here or volunteering here.
Yours HumanlyApril 10, 2021