UN agencies are urging Member States to address childhood education and data gaps, particularly in the hidden areas of refugee and migrant children's needs, ahead of the UN Summit for Migrants and Refugees in New York.
14 September 2016: UN agencies are urging Member States to address childhood education and data gaps, particularly in the hidden areas of refugee and migrant children’s needs, ahead of the UN Summit for Migrants and Refugees in New York.
On 14 September 2016, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a ‘Time Machine’ exhibit at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The exhibit uses technology to highlight gaps in countries’ data about child wellbeing, through a process of “data storytelling.” UNICEF produced the exhibit in partnership with the Barcelona-based agency Domestic Data Streamers. In a press release, UNICEF urges all governments to invest in disaggregated, comparable and quality data on children. Speaking at the launch event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require access to correct and timely data, but up to 350 million people worldwide are not counted in census data. He noted that there are “blank spaces,” for example, on refugee and migrant children, and on children with disabilities.
On 15 September, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released a report on the growing needs for children’s education, as refugee numbers increase. The publication, titled ‘Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis,’ reports that just half of all refugee children have access to primary education, and 22% have access to secondary education, compared with the global averages of over 90% and 84%, respectively. The report shows that the sheer numbers of refugees in recent years have posed a challenge for providing education in refugee camps, as the number of school-age refugees worldwide grew by about 600,000 annually between the years 2010 to 2015, with total numbers increasing by 30% in 2014 alone. More than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children are located in seven countries, the report finds: Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.
Also on 15 September, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report assessing countries’ efforts to achieve SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all). ‘Education at a Glance 2016′ notes that only 12 of the 35 OECD countries are meeting at least five SDG targets for education, and that many countries do not have adequate data available for assessing achievement of the targets. The report also shows ongoing inequities, with women overall and children from immigrant families benefiting less. Although more women than men are first-time graduates from university (57%), there are fewer women then men in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Finally, noting that upper secondary school teachers’ salaries decreased in one-third of countries between 2005 and 2014, the authors suggest that OECD countries should invest in compensating high-quality teachers instead of decreasing class sizes. [UN Press Release on UNICEF Exhibit] [UN Secretary-General’s Remarks] [UN Press Release on UNHCR Report] [UNHCR Report] [OECD Press Release] [OECD Report Webpage]