More than half of children of school going age in South Sudan are not in school, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has said.

Unicef said 1.8 million children, representing 51 percent of children between the ages of six and 15 are not in school in a country affected by incessant fighting between government forces and rebel groups.

Unicef Chief of Education Jo Bourne said children in conflict zones bear the brunt of war.

“Children living in countries affected by conflict have lost their homes, family members, friends, safety, and routine. Now, unable to learn even the basic reading and writing skills, they are at risk of losing their futures and missing out on the opportunity to contribute to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood,” Bourne said.


The African Union said the use of child soldiers had been “pervasive” in the South Sudan conflict Photo: CNN

According to Unicef, Niger is second with 47 percent of its children of school going age unable to attend school, followed by Sudan (41 percent) and Afghanistan (40 percent).

Activists have said many children have been affected by the ongoing war in South Sudan, often being deployed as child soldiers. Young girls have also been gravely affected by the fighting, with documented accounts of abduction and rape.

Unicef says, “unless the provision of education in emergencies is prioritised, a generation of children living in conflict will grow up without the skills they need to contribute to their countries and economies, exacerbating the already desperate situation for millions of children and their families”.

Source: Unicef