Fifty-seven million children, adolescents and youth are barred from attending school in the Central and West Africa region, representing 24.1 per cent of the 236 million out of school worldwide.
“Every child out of school, every day of learning lost, is one brick fewer to build peace and prosperity in the region,” said Maureen Magee, Regional Director for Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Central and West Africa. “In this context of relentless violence and families repeatedly uprooted from their homes, the leaders of the Central and West African Region must do their utmost to ensure the full implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and protect every child’s right to go to school.”
The number of school closures has spiked in eight countries of the region, with over 12,400 schools closed by the end of the 2021-22 school year*. In Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger more than half of all children and adolescents do not have access to education.
Over the last school year, the number of closed schools increased by 66 per cent in the Central Sahel region alone. Schools are either the direct target of attacks by non-state armed groups or deserted by students in fear of attacks. Violence also forces entire communities to lose their resources and flee, cutting off children's and adolescents' access to education.
"Sadly, learning institutions have not been spared from attacks by armed groups. Maintaining access to safe, quality education for all children, including refugees, is crucial," said Millicent Mutuli, Director of UNHCR Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa.
International funding to the education sector is also often among the lowest of the humanitarian responses in the Central and West Africa region. In 2021, donor governments provided less than a quarter of the funds needed to meet emergency education needs, half of the 2018 allocation. In Burkina Faso, which has a third of all schools currently closed in the region, the amount allocated by donors so far this year represents barely 20 US Cents per month per displaced child under the age of 15.