An estimated 19 million children in Sudan are out of school as the brutal conflict approaches the six-month mark next week.
Out of this total – or 1 in every 3 children in the country - some 6.5 million lost access to school due to increased violence and insecurity in their region, with at least 10,400 schools shuttered in conflict-affected areas. Meanwhile, over 5.5 million children who reside in areas less impacted by war are waiting for local authorities to confirm whether classrooms can be reopened.
Even before the conflict erupted in April, nearly 7 million children were already out of school in a country grappling with poverty and instability. If the war continues, no child in Sudan will be able to go back to school in the coming months, leaving them exposed to immediate and long-term dangers, including displacement, recruitment into armed groups and sexual violence.
“Sudan is on the brink of becoming home to the worst education crisis in the world,” said Mandeep O’Brien, UNICEF Country Representative in Sudan. “Children have been exposed to the horrors of war for nearly half a year. Now, forced away from their classrooms, teachers, and friends, they are at risk of falling into a void that will impact the dreams and future of an entire generation.”
Beyond reading, writing, and mathematics, children also learn social and emotional skills in school, which in a time of conflict can become a lifeline for coping with violence, loss, and trauma. Meanwhile, they can also access many other critical - and often life-saving - services, such as nutrition, healthcare, and psychosocial support.
“Since the conflict began, Sudan has emerged as the globe's most extensive internal displacement crisis, with 4.4 million people newly displaced within Sudan, including around 2.5 million children. Additionally, 5 million school-age children find themselves trapped in areas of active conflict, placing them in the highest jeopardy of losing crucial access to education and essential protection services,” said Arif Noor, Save the Children Sudan Country Director.
Spending on social services has been on a steep decline, with teachers in almost all states missing their salaries since the armed conflict started nearly six months ago. Education supplies are lacking, and facilities have not been maintained. While efforts are under way in a few regions to ensure education systems in Sudan remain functional, there are significant constraints, and the needs are quickly outpacing the resources.
In addition to the immediate impact and risk of discontinuing education for nearly every Sudanese child, a recent UNICEF analysis shows that the earning loss, if not tackled urgently, will result in a net lifetime loss of US$ 26 billion for the war-impacted generation of children.
UNICEF and Save the Children are working with partners to ensure millions of Sudanese children can access quality education and safely go back to school soon before their academic year is compromised.
UNICEF and Save the Children call upon the Sudanese authorities to reopen schools in safe areas, while supporting alternative learning modalities in communities where schools can no longer be open due to safety and security concerns.
UNICEF and Save the Children call on the international community to stand in solidarity with the Sudanese children whose education is at stake, and to provide the necessary resources and support to ensure millions of Sudanese children can go back to school and ensure conflict-affected children have the opportunity to access learning and psychosocial support in safe spaces.
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