As we celebrate International Day of Education 2022, the world has reached a tipping point in many areas: economic inequality, environmental destruction fueled by climate change, political polarization, narrowing space for civil society, undermined public services and entrenched gender disparities – not to mention the devastating effects of a global pandemic, which has undermined the basic human right to education.
Despite the remarkable progress made in the past two decades, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, globally there were more than 250 million children and young people out of school. Nearly 800 million adults were illiterate.
Moreover, this data masks significant economic and educational disparities between countries; for example, one in four youth in lower-income countries is non-literate today1, compared to one in ten at the global level.
The impacts of the pandemic – and of profoundly unequal and non-inclusive systems – are not only putting the relative gains at risk, but also threatening to exclude the most vulnerable children from education systems.
The education emergency
For the most marginalized in the world – those with disabilities, girls, and those from low-income households, among others – the impact is even greater. In crisis-affected countries, the situation is even starker, and children living in emergency contexts are particularly at risk of exclusion from educational opportunities.
The data below illustrates the magnitude of the education crisis:
- Even before COVID-19, 127 million primary and secondary school-age children and young people living in crisis-affected countries were out of school – this is almost half of the global out-of-school population.
- 48% of all school-age refugee children have no access to education.
- It is projected that, by 2050, 140 million people across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America will be newly displaced due to climate change.
- Girls are more likely than boys to be out of school in emergency contexts. Up to 20 million girls, particularly adolescent girls, are at risk of permanently dropping out of school by 2023.
On March 1, 2022, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) will launch a campaign to put education in emergencies at the center of the global education agenda.