Children in Conflict Zones Need School More Than Ever


January 19, 2016

On school mornings, most mothers in the U.S. are scrambling around the house, nagging kids to pack their backpacks, finding missing shoes, maybe packing lunches. Almost always someone is dragging their feet and you’re running out the door to meet the bus, or walk or drive to school on time. The thought of your child not being able to get to school because of war or conflict is unfathomable.

Yet according to a recent article at on the vulnerability of children living in conflict zones one in four children between the ages of six and 15 living in war-torn areas are not in school. Currently, this means as many as 24 million children are missing out on their education at a critical point in their lives.

Children attend the launch of the Back to Learning campaign, in Juba, the capital. Two of the children are holding a banner bearing their school’s name and motto. On 19 February 2015 in South Sudan, the Back to Learning campaign was launched by UNICEF and the President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit. Ongoing conflict has compounded strains on the country’s already weak education system. Approximately 400,000 children whose schooling has been interrupted by the conflict will have a chance to return to their studies over the next 12 months through the campaign, which will reach out-of-school children in all 10 states, including areas currently engulfed by violence. For children sheltering in camps for internally displaced people or in conflict-devastated host communities where no education services are available, UNICEF and partners will provide a comprehensive package of education support for children aged 3 to 18 years. That support will include pre-school and basic education, remedial programmes for adolescents and psychosocial support in classrooms. Additionally, training will be provided for 4,000 teachers and early childhood development facilitators, as well as 1,500 Parent Teacher Association members. UNICEF has partnered with 20 local and international NGOs in carrying out the US$42 million campaign.

On 19 February 2015 in South Sudan, the Back to Learning campaign was launched by UNICEF and the President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit. Photo by UNICEF/Campeanu

UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne explains the consequences of this situation. “When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation and recruitment into armed groups. Schools can also protect children from the trauma and physical dangers around them.”

When children attend school they gain skills to contribute to their communities, locally and on a larger scale. One study found that doubling the percentage of younger generations with secondary education could cut the risk of war in half.

Education is the key to assisting the rising generation in changing the course of history – especially when it comes to fighting against the devastation these kids are experiencing. When we prioritize access to education for every child using alternatives like Online Elementary School, we will see young children grow up with the tools they need to improve their communities and countries, as they become the ones to prevent conflict.

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Read the full article from and the report from UNICEF. UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, taking action to reach the most vulnerable. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit, and follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

Lead photo is of a 9 year old child selling candies during a school day in Kafar Batna, a village outside of Damascus on January 5, 2016. Photo by UNICEF/UN06847/Al Shami

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