UNITED NATIONS — With the 2015 UN target for ensuring universal primary education fast approaching, the UN education agency warned yesterday that 67 million children are not attending school, including 28 million caught in armed conflicts.
UNESCO’s 2011 Global Monitoring Report concluded that the world is not on track to achieve the goal set by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000 “by a wide margin,’’ despite progress in many areas.
From 1999 to 2008, UNESCO said, an additional 52 million children enrolled in primary school, but it said the number of children out of school is falling too slowly, to 67 million in 2008.
“If current trends continue,’’ the report warned, “there could be more children out of school in 2015 than there are today.’’
It singled out “the hidden crisis’’ of youngsters caught in armed conflict as one key reason.
Of the total number of primary-school-age children who are not enrolled in school, 42 percent — around 28 million — live in poor countries affected by conflict, the report said. “Children and schools today are on the front line of armed conflicts, with classrooms, teachers, and pupils seen as legitimate targets,’’ the UNESCO report said.
In Afghanistan, at least 613 attacks on schools were recorded in 2009, up from 347 in 2008, the report said. Insurgents in Pakistan have made numerous attacks on girls’ schools, including one in which 95 girls were injured, it said.
In North Yemen, 220 schools were destroyed, damaged, or looted during fighting in 2009 and 2010, the report said. And in Gaza, Israeli attacks in 2008 and 2009 left 350 children dead, 1,815 injured, and 280 schools damaged, it said.