Some 12 million children in the Middle East are out of school as a result of poverty, sexual discrimination and violence, in spite of efforts to increase the education rate, a UNICEF report revealed yesterday.
The statistic does not include children who were forced to leave school because of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, who amount to more than three million.
The joint report, which was produced by UNICEF and the Institute of Statistics of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), pays tribute to the “considerable resources and political capital” dedicated to the dissemination of education at a wider scale in the Middle East region over the past decade.
The report noted that “out-of-school rates for primary school children have plummeted, often by as much as half, bringing hope and new opportunity to millions.” But it also pointed to the retreat of progress in the past years, explaining that “4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children are still not in school.”
In addition to this number, there are 5.1 million nursery aged children who are not enrolled in education, which raises the number of children who are out of education to 12.3 million.
This number represents approximately 15 per cent of children in the Middle East who are of nursery, primary and preparatory education age.
The report, which studied the situation in nine countries, attributed the cause of school drop-out to a number of factors, including poverty.
In many cases, the financial situation of the family does not enable it to bear the expenses of tuition, books and school uniforms, in addition to the reduction in the family’s income once their child stops working in order to attend school.