UNESCO launched the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education on March 1.
Armed conflict disrupts the education of 28 million primary school-age children throughout the world. Secondary school enrollment is one-third lower in countries affected by conflict. Early childhood education is sparse in these areas.
Although children represent half the population forced to flee from their homes during conflict, they are usually refused education as refugees. Education is the often-forgotten component in humanitarian aid. In 2009, it represented only about 2 percent of humanitarian aid funding, according to UNESCO.
Education needs are often overwhelmed by health and nutrition concerns. Yet, the significant role education can play in providing safety, protection, psychosocial support and long-term sustenance for children is underappreciated. Its role in peace-building is little understood. Inequality and the exclusion of those who are most vulnerable set the stage for long-lasting conflict.
ChildFund International recognizes the critical importance of supporting children in their early years in several areas of its work:
- alleviating stress, which alters the neurological development of young children and changes forever the way that they perceive danger and how they cope
- creating the safety net of child protection and helping children (and youth) build the skills for peacefully understanding and resolving conflict
- promoting holistic early childhood development programs that set children on the road to school success
- establishing health and nutritional status stable enough to allow children to actively benefit from years of education
- educating parents around the importance of their involvement and interaction with their children.
ChildFund joined UNICEF, the Interagency Network on Education in Emergencies and the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Education in introducing a statement, “Building Peace in Early Childhood” (PDF).