27 mn children out of school in four South Asian countries: study

Kathmandu, Jan 29: A study has found that a staggering 27 million children between the ages five and 13 are out of school in four countries of South Asia.

The new study released Wednesday by Unicef’s regional office for South Asia and the Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS) covering Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka shows that there are 17 million primary school-age children who are not going to school in these four countries.

The ‘Global Initiative On Out-of-school Children’ study also shows that 9.9 million more lower secondary school-age children are also not attending school, bringing the total to 27 million.

Of the 26 participating countries globally, the four South Asian countries took part in the first phase of the initiative.

The study aims to understand the scale of the problem in the four countries.

“Children who are not in school lose the opportunity to learn and this takes a huge toll on the rest of their lives. No school, no school records and therefore invisible children for decision-makers,” Karin Hulshof, regional director of Unicef in South Asia, said in a statement.

“We hope this study will equip countries with the knowledge and methodology to better understand who the children excluded from education are, eventually resulting in better solutions to the problem,” she added.

The study revealed that the reasons for children being out of school include poverty, social and cultural norms, conflict, emergencies and disasters.

Children from rural areas and urban slums, ethnic minorities, children with disabilities, and child labourers face the greatest risk of being denied their right to education, the report shows.

“By better identifying who these children are and the challenges they face, we can take concrete and effective steps to reach them,” Albert Motivans, head of education indicators and data analysis at the UIS, said.

IANS