(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has caused almost half of all children between the ages of seven and 17 to miss out on schooling, the United Nations Children’s Fund says.
The agency also points to poverty and discrimination against girls as reasons for the rate of out of school children climbing to levels previously seen in 2002. About 60 percent of the children who are not being schooled are girls, which UNICEF says puts them at a “particular disadvantage” that compounds already existing gender discrimination in the country.
“Business as usual is not an option for Afghanistan if we are to fulfill the right to education for every child,” UNICEF Afghanistan representative Adele Khodr said.
The report does note that the rate of children dropping out of school has gone down. According to UNICEF, 85 percent of children who start primary school go on to complete the last grade.
That figure climes to 94 percent of boys and 90 percent of girls once the students begin lower secondary school.
“Now is the time for a renewed commitment to provide girls and boys with the relevant learning opportunities they need to progress in life and to play a positive role in society,” Khodr said.