Out of School Children in the Middle East and North Africa: New report provides crucial policy insights
One in four children and young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) risks missing out on an education, according to a new report authored by Oxford Policy Management.
The report, produced as part of the UNICEF and UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) MENA Out of School Children Initiative, documents the extent to which children and young adolescents in the region are either already out of school or at risk of dropping out – and highlights the reasons why. It aims to support more informed policymaking and the introduction of interventions that help address barriers to education access in the region.
The most comprehensive assessment of education equity in the region to date, the report is based on in-depth studies in nine countries: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. The study teams analysed formal education participation rates across a number of age groups – from pre-primary to lower secondary – and also investigated the likelihood of those already enrolled in education dropping out of school.
OPM’s education experts supported the study teams with data and policy analysis, helping to build up detailed profiles of excluded children within each country. Importantly, by designing a framework for consistent reporting, these profiles could be compared and contrasted, building up a comprehensive regional picture of MENA’s out-of-school children.
The teams found that, currently, 12.3 million children and young adolescents in MENA are excluded from formal education while six million more are at risk of dropping out in the near future. Barriers to school access include armed conflict (in Iraq and Syria), poor quality education and widespread gender discrimination – on average, girls in the MENA region are 25 per cent less likely to be in school than boys.
Stuart Cameron, education consultant at Oxford Policy Management and report author, said: ‘This study provides crucial insights for governments across the Middle East and North Africa – it highlights the importance of prioritising the education needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged families to help ensure children both attend, and stay in, school.
By building a regional evidence base, we can identify those most in need, illustrate the barriers to effective learning and help inform effective policy decision-making that ultimately supports better development outcomes.’
The report helps address international evidence gaps around barriers to effective and equitable education, providing an important contribution to the ongoing post-2015 development agenda negotiations - specifically the proposed Sustainable Development Goal around education.