NEW YORK, 15th September, 2016 (WAM) — More than 3.7 million children under the mandate of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, do not have access to a school, a new report released by the agency on Thursday shows.

Some 1.75 million refugee children are not in primary school and 1.95 million refugee adolescents are not in secondary school, the report found. Refugees are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average.

“This represents a crisis for millions of refugee children,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said. “Refugee education is sorely neglected, when it is one of the few opportunities we have to transform and build the next generation so they can change the fortunes of the tens of millions of forcibly displaced people globally.”

Entitled “Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis”, the report compares UNHCR data on refugee education with UNESCO data on global school enrolment. Only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of more than 90 per cent. And as these children become older, the gap becomes a chasm: only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents attend secondary school compared to a global average of 84 per cent. At the higher education level, just one per cent of refugees attend university, compared to a global average of 34 per cent.

More than half of the world’s out-of-school refugee children and adolescents are located in just seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the report.

Exemplified by Syria, the report shows how conflict has the potential to reverse positive education trends. Whereas in 2009, 94 per cent of Syrian children attended primary and lower secondary education, by June 2016 only 60 per cent of children were in school in Syria, leaving 2.1 million children and adolescents without access to education in Syria.

In neighbouring countries, over 4.8 million Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR, amongst them around 35 per cent are of school-age. In Turkey, only 39 per cent of school-age refugee children and adolescents were enrolled in primary and secondary education, 40 per cent in Lebanon, and 70 per cent in Jordan. This means that nearly 900,000 Syrian school-age refugee children and adolescents are not in school.