COVID-19 a particular threat to education of refugee children: UNHCR report


While children in every country have struggled with the impact of COVID-19 on their education, the refugee children have been particularly disadvantaged, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a new report issued on Thursday.

UN figures showed that 1.6 billion learners across the world, including millions of refugees, have had their education disrupted owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR said in a press statement.

The report, titled Coming Together for Refugee Education, said that before the pandemic, a refugee child was twice as likely to be out of school as a non-refugee child.

“This is set to worsen — many may not have opportunities to resume their studies due to school closures, difficulties (in) affording fees, uniforms or books, lack of access to technologies or because they are being required to work to support their families,” UNHCR said.

The 2019 data in the report is based on reporting from 12 countries hosting more than half of the world’s refugee children.

While there is 77 percent gross enrolment in primary school, only 31 percent of refugee youth are enrolled in secondary school. At the level of higher education, only 3 percent of refugee youth are enrolled, it said.

“Half of the world’s refugee children were already out of school,” Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in the press statement.

“Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, with greater international support to refugees and their host communities, we can expand innovative ways to protect the critical gains made in refugee education over the past years,” Grandi said.

Thursday’s report is the fifth annual education report from the UN refugee agency.

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