Fifty-one percent of children between ages 6 and 15, or 1.8 million children, are not in school in South Sudan, which has seen violence for two years as government forces battle rebels, UNICEF said in a statement on Tuesday.
Even before the conflict began, 1.4 million children were already missing class. Since the war broke out, over 800 schools have been demolished and more than 400 000 children had to abandon their classrooms.
South Sudan is followed by Niger, where 47 percent of the children are not in school, according to Phuong T Nguyen, UNICEF’s chief of education for South Sudan.
Only one in 10 South Sudanese students who enter school finish primary education amid a shortage of facilities and trained teachers, Nguyen said.
South Sudan’s government and the rebels signed a peace agreement in August, although violence persists in some areas.
Worldwide, one in four children in conflict zones are missing out on their education, translating to nearly 24 million children out of more than 109 million living in countries at war, UNICEF said.