Children’s rights must be a priority of humanitarian action in Africa

Ibrahim Sanon
Youssouf Ario Maiga
Global Partnership for Education
Publication Year:
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

What about the rights of children who are deprived of education or are displaced by terrorism and violent extremism?

This post is the fifth in a blog series published in 2019 in the context of collaboration between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

Many countries in Africa have pledged to guarantee equitable, inclusive, and quality education for all with a view to achieving universal primary education. To this end, formal and non-formal initiatives have been launched to ensure that no one is left out of the education system.

Africa’s education challenges

However, despite the great effort made in recent decades to achieve universal education, the challenge remains significant. Data published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in February 2018 indicate that approximately 260 million children, adolescents, and young people around the world (one in five) are not enrolled in school—a figure that has hardly budged in the past five years. Of all the regions, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of exclusion from education.

These challenges are now being compounded by insecurity. Many countries in Africa and around the world are currently facing terrorist attacks. A heavy toll is being exacted on the education system, which seems to be a prime target of terrorists.

According to UNICEF, in 2019, continued and growing insecurity in the Sahel region has forced nearly 2,000 schools in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to close or become non-operational. Threats against education personnel, attacks on education facilities, and the use of schools for military purposes have disrupted the education of over 400,000 children across the three countries and left more than 10,000 teachers unable to work or displaced by the violence.

This situation has prompted the large-scale movement of persons in the affected communities (internally displaced persons) and of refugees in other neighboring countries. Children also get swept up in this movement, which represents a grave violation of their rights.

This blog outlines the challenges faced in achieving universal education in Africa and especially in the Sub-Saharan region, which has the highest rates of exclusion from education. Advocating on behalf of children deprived of education due to displacement and terrorism, the authors call for multiple stakeholders to assist in ensuring education for all children.


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