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Critical gap in education for refugee girls: UNHCR

IANS | Geneva | Updated :

A new report from UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has revealed that refugee girls at the secondary level are only half as likely to enrol in school as their male peers — even though girls make up half of the school-age refugee population.

Access to education is a fundamental human right. Yet, for millions of women and girls among the world’s growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality, said the report titled “Her Turn”.

“It is time for the international community to recognise the injustice of denying refugee girls and women an education,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“These findings are a global wake-up call, and I urge all to join us in demanding: ‘It’s her turn’.”

UNHCR’s report revealed that social and cultural conventions often result in boys being prioritised over girls to attend school.

Poor facilities such as a lack of appropriate toilet facilities and menstrual supplies can block refugee girls’ access to schools. Adding to the challenge, the cost of books, uniforms and the journey to school can be prohibitive for refugee families.

“Finding solutions to the challenges refugee girls face as they strive to go to school requires action right across the board — from national education ministries to teacher training institutions, in communities and classrooms,” added Grandi.

“There are formidable barriers to overcome. We are calling for an international effort to turn the tide.”

Only 61 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared to an international average of 91 per cent. At secondary level, 23 per cent of refugee adolescents go to school, compared to 84 per cent globally.