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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2555

Children in Areas of War and Conflict Get Little Help for Education - New Report Shows

Washington Dc, 13 April, (Asiantribune.com): The world’s richest countries are failing to help millions of children in conflict-affected nations get an education, a new Save the Children report reveals today, ahead of a series of crucial world donor meetings. For example, in the Sudanese region of Darfur, over 50 percent of children are out of school, many forced from their homes due to violence, but almost no funding has been provided specifically to educate these children.

The new report, “Last in line, last in school” shows that most donor nations prioritize education assistance to more stable countries over those affected by conflict, leaving millions of children in conflict-affected countries with little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and conflict, despite pledges from donor countries to ensure that every child receives an education by 2015. The study is based on an analysis of education aid reported by donor countries to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA.)

Although the number of out-of-school primary-age children in the world has dramatically fallen from over 100 million to 77 million in recent years, the situation in countries affected by conflict has seen little improvement. Indeed, they are home to 39 million children who may never see the inside of a classroom. This means that unless these children are reached, the Millennium Development Goal of primary education for all will remain out of reach.

The report reveals that:

* Overall funding for education is low: Of 22 donor countries that made pledges at the 2005 G8 Summit, only Netherlands and Norway are contributing their fair share of funds to achieve education for every child by 2015. There is currently a $9 billion funding gap that is the difference between giving every child the chance to go to school by 2015 and leaving millions behind. The U.S. ranks 20th among 22 countries in contributing its fair share.

* The United States allocates about 3 percent of its development assistance to education. Of this amount, 40 percent of aid to education goes to assist countries in conflict—a higher percentage than any other donor country. The bulk of U.S. aid to educate children in areas of conflict goes to Iraq and Afghanistan. Among all developing countries, Iraq receives the most education aid from the U.S.

* Donors give the least amount of aid for education to the countries most in need of it – conflict-affected countries.Overall, 49 percent of aid for education goes towards middle-income countries, 33 percent to low-income countries, and a only 18 percent to conflict-affected countries. Conflict-affected countries receive less than a fifth of global education aid, despite being home to 39 million out of 77 million children missing out on education.

* Donors’ restrictive aid criteria for funding prevents education aid from reaching conflict- affected countries.

“Countries in conflict have a disproportionate number of children out of school,” said Charles McCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children, based in Westport, CT. “These children, and their countries, face a bleak future if wealthy countries, which have promised to give every child the chance to go to school by 2015, do not stand by their word. We know that education determines the prospects of people and their countries. We can not sit by while a whole generation of young people falls through the cracks.”

In countries in conflict, schools close, teachers flee or are recruited into the military, and school systems are no longer funded. This puts children at risk, making them easier targets for recruitment as child soldiers, or exploitation as cheap labor. It also increases their vulnerability to trafficking and abuse. Unless education continues through conflict situations, countries emerging from conflict find they have a “lost generation” of children who are unprepared and unable to help rebuild their countries.

Donors are reluctant to commit funds to unstable countries that, as a result of conflict, appear to more urgently need funding for food security and basic infrastructure and which are often prone to corruption. Yet these countries need the most help in rebuilding solid, long-term education plans and strategies, precisely where aid efforts should be focused. Education is essential to protecting children during conflict and to rebuilding nations in the aftermath. It is a key to alleviating poverty and reducing the risks of perpetual conflict by helping lay the groundwork for personal growth, economic growth and political development.

Save the Children is calling for donors and multilateral agencies (including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, the European Commission and the World Bank):

* To increase their commitments to conflict-affected countries by 50 percent.

* To increase basic education aid to meet their fair share of the US$9 billion annual financing gap.

* To ensure all funding mechanisms are accessible to and able to support and fund conflict-affected countries.

- Asian Tribune -

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