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Liberia tops 10 worst countries where two-third of children never enter classroom

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Despite the much trumpeted reform measures being adopted by current authorities at the Ministry of Education, Liberia shamefully sits atop of 10 worst countries where nearly two third of children have never step inside a classroom, the United Nations said on Thursday September 1.

At 62% Liberia, which recently celebrated its 169 Independence Day also tops war ravished South Sudan, which sits understandably at 59%, alongside Eritrea.  The rest of the countries are 4) Afghanistan – 46 percent, 5) Sudan – 45 percent, 6) Djibouti – 43 percent. Oil rich Equatorial Guinea sits at number 7 with 42 percent, 8) Niger – 38 percent 9) Mali – 36 percent and 10) Nigeria at 34%.

Liberia’s Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson declined to comment on the report referring this paper to Education Minister George Wanner on Thursday. Wanner’s phone rang endlessly and failed to respond to a text message sent to his phone soliciting comment on the report.

The report, which is the UNICEF’s first global out of school ranking features African countries hit by conflict prominently with South Sudan coming joint second with Eritrea as mentioned earlier. In both countries 59% of children are out of school.

Last month UNICEF said a spike in the forced recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan could be imminent amid fears the East Africa nation was on the brink of renewed civil war. Although school is vital for children living in crises, education is one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals, the U.N. children’s fund, UNICEF, said in a statement. 

“For countries affected by conflict, school equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the crisis is over,” UNICEF’s chief of education Jo Bourne said in the statement.

“Schools can also protect children from the trauma and physical dangers around them.” Classroom routines can help children psychologically after witnessing atrocities, as well as safeguarding them from abuse, experts say. A crisis fund was launched in May at the World Humanitarian Summit to increase funding for children missing out on school due to war and natural disasters.

The West African country of Liberia, which emerged from two civil wars in 2003, temporarily shut its schools to stop the spread of the Ebola epidemic, which ended in June.

The 18 million children in the 10 worst countries for access to primary school account for almost one third of the world’s 61 million primary school-aged children who are out of school, UNICEF said.-New Dawn   

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