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Conflict, widespread poverty stall education’s progress

MANILA, Philippines — Conflict and widespread poverty have stalled progress on education rates over the past decade, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The UNICEF has sounded a call for more investments in education because of the pervasive levels of poverty, protracted conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies that have led to stagnation in reducing the global out-of-school rate over the past decade.

With 11.5 percent of school-age children or 123 million missing school today, compared to 12.8 percent or 135 million in 2007, UNICEF said the percentage of out-of-school children six  to 15 years old has barely decreased in the last decade.

“Investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough,” UNICEF chief of education Jo Bourne said.

“This business-as-usual approach will not get the most vulnerable children into school – and help them reach their full potential – if they continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,” she added.

Children living in the world’s poorest countries and in conflict zones are disproportionally affected.

Of the 123 million children missing out on school, 40 percent live in the least developed countries and 20 percent live in conflict zones.

War continues to threaten and reverse education gains, UNICEF pointed out.

“Governments and the global community must target their investments at eliminating the factors preventing these children from going to school in the first place, including by making schools safe and improving teaching and learning,” Bourne said.

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