Expert analysis

09 July 2019

Investing in internally displaced children’s education is investing in their future

This blog is also published on the Network for international policies and cooperation in education and training (NORRAG)

Today, representatives from governments around the world are gathered in New York City to review progress they made toward universal education since 2015. The High Level Political Forum, an annual event where countries present their advancement towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), opens this year with a focus on the education goal, SDG 4. Internally displaced children and youth are among the groups furthest behind in terms of access to education and educational achievement, yet they often receive little to no educational support in emergencies. 

At the Forum, UNICEF and IDMC will launch two co-authored policy papers on equitable access to quality education for internally displaced children and on protecting and supporting internally displaced children in urban settings

We now have a better understanding of the scale of the issue, as the first estimates on the number of school-age children living in internal displacement are available. At the global level, at least 12.6 million children of primary or secondary school-age are displaced within their own country because of conflict or violence alone. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, where even non-displaced children often face challenges in accessing quality education. Millions more are displaced because of disasters, climate change and other causes.

Ways to use and improve this new information on the education of internally displaced children, and recommendations on how governments, humanitarian and development actors can protect their right to quality education, are discussed in the two papers. 

Distribution of children internally displaced by conflict or violence around the world

As the first assessment of the cost of internal displacement on education was published in February this year, we can now inform development planning and crisis response strategies of the countries affected by internal displacement, and of humanitarian and development organisations, with  an estimated budget they would need to cover basic educational needs of all internally displaced children. This budget approximates USD 850 million per year of displacement at the global level, for conflict-affected children only.   

Investing in  continued education for displaced children is not only economically sensible, as it supports their future income and ability to contribute to the economy. It is also a crucial step in mitigating the negative consequences of internal displacement on their mental and physical health, their security and social life and, eventually, the stability of entire communities.

This year could be a significant year for the visibility of educational challenges linked with internal displacement. IDMC will soon publish a background paper to UNESCO’s upcoming Global Education Monitoring Report, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa; the region where most internally displaced children live, with over 8 million IDPs under 18 recorded in 2018 in only 23 countries affected by conflict and violence. In October, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced people will publish a dedicated report on education. With this encouraging momentum on an issue that has been largely overlooked until now, we invite other interested organisations to join forces with us to disseminate, improve and use this new body of evidence on internally displaced children and their educational challenges.