The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education
A recent report put together by the Education For All Global Monitoring Team and commissioned by UNESCO highlights a wide range of jaw-dropping statistics that relate to the severe educational disadvantages that children have growing up in conflict-ridden parts of the world. The report is 400 pages long and a gut-wrenching read through and through. Below I have highlighted just a few of the most egregious statistics.
Hunger is holding back progress. In developing countries, 195 million children under 5 – one in three – experience malnutrition, causing irreparable damage to their cognitive development and their long-term educational prospects.
About 17% of the world’s adults – 796 million people – still lack basic literacy skills. Nearly two-thirds are women.
Countries affected by armed conflict are among the farthest from reaching the Education for All goals, yet their education challenges go largely unreported.
In conflict-affected poor countries, 28 million children of primary school age are out of school – 42% of the world total.
Children in conflict-affected poor countries are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as children in other poor countries.
Democratic Republic of the Congo:
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the excess death toll from 1998 to 2007 has been put at 5.4 million. Children under 5 account for almost half of the total, although they make up only one-fifth of the population.
These are figures that should have propelled the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the top of the international agenda. The loss of life is unparalleled by any conflict since the Second World War. Yet the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo receives scant attention in the foreign policies of developed-country governments, and even less from the international media.
NeilS – Surly it is easy to overlook the boundless inequality and brutality throughout the world when you don’t come face to face with it on a regular basis or, in many cases, ever at all. Not to mention that political and economic pressures in industrialized nations certainly get prioritized over regions that rely on huge sums of aid and charitable support. Nevertheless, it is important that we not forget those regions that are in the most disarray and where innocent children are born into a world where they essentially have no chance of success, and will very likely end up joining the 21,000 children under age 5 that die daily from preventable causes.
Strangely, I am left with only a solemn lack of words when considering these statistics. A feeling of helplessness and disillusionment about what I can realistically do to aid those in desperate need. I’m sure many people feel the same way. The best advice I can give is to continue to bring these issues and statistics to light within your social circles and continue charitable contributions whenever you feel it possible. Charity Navigator, the American Institute of Philanthropy, and the Better Business Bureau all have charity ratings that display all kinds of information including how much of the money you donate will go directly to helping those in need. I hope those links can help you find a charity of your liking.