Monrovia – Nearly two third of Liberian children have never stepped in school and the country has the highest portion of children missing out on primary school education, the United Nations Child Agency (UNICEF) said on Thursday.
Most of the countries highlighted by UNICEF in its first global out-of-school ranking are in Sub Saharan Africa, with Liberia coming first in the ranking, followed jointly by South Sudan and Eritrea. In Liberia, 64 percent of children are out of school, while 59 percent of children in both South Sudan and Eritrea countries are out of school.
Last month UNICEF said a spike in the forced recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan could be imminent amid fears the East African nation was on the brink of renewed civil war.
Liberia ended its war in 2003 with the help of UN peacekeepers. The UN has since June 30 turned over security responsibilities to Liberian security forces.
Although school is vital for children living in crises, education is one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals, UNICEF said in a statement.
“For countries affected by conflict, school equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the crisis is over,” UNICEF’s Chief of Education, Jo Bourne, said in the statement.
“Schools can also protect children from the trauma and physical dangers around them.”
Classroom routines can help children psychologically after witnessing atrocities, as well as safeguarding them from abuse, experts say.
A crisis fund was launched in May at the World Humanitarian Summit to increase funding for children missing out on school due to war and natural disasters.
The West African country of Liberia, which emerged from two civil wars in 2003, temporarily shut its schools to stop the spread of the Ebola epidemic, which ended in June.
The 18 million children in the 10 worst countries for access to primary school account for almost one third of the world’s 61 million primary school-aged children who are out of school, UNICEF said.
Here are the top 10 countries in the world with the highest proportion of children missing out on primary school:
1) Liberia – 62 percent
2) South Sudan – 59 percent
3) Eritrea – 59 percent
4) Afghanistan – 46 percent
5) Sudan – 45 percent
6) Djibouti – 43 percent
7) Equatorial Guinea – 42 percent
8) Niger – 38 percent
9) Mali – 36 percent
10) Nigeria – 34 percent