UNICEF: Nearly 15 Million Children Out of School in MENA

Reuters file photo of children at a school in Iraq

The United Nations has warned that the Middle East and North Africa region faces a critical risk of an unprecedented increase of 5 million out-of-school children and over a 10 percent rise in youth unemployment by 2030.

“Nearly 15 million children are out of school due to a combination of poverty, discrimination, poor quality learning, violence in schools and armed conflict,” according to MENA Generation 2030, a report issued by UNICEF.

It warned that that number could grow by 5 million and the region could witness a 10 percent rise in unemployment among youth without improved education and meaningful work opportunities.

The region has the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, with a regional average of up to 40 percent among young women, said the report.

It also said that among children who are in school, only half meet the benchmark measuring skills for reading, mathematics and science.

“We are at a serious risk of not meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in the MENA region with devastating consequences on children and young people,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The only way out is through the implementation and budgeting of policies for children, ending violence and armed conflict, having a politically and socially stable environment, and promoting gender equality,” Cappelaere added.