Conflict-affected situations, Insecurity and Instability

Conflict-affected situations, insecurity and instability act as one of the largest barriers today to children receiving a quality primary education.

Conflict-affected situations, Insecurity and Instability

Conflict Barrier

Conflict represents a major impediment for the realisation of MDG2, universal completion of primary education. More than half of the world’s primary-aged children out of school are estimated to live in conflict-affected fragile states.

Conflict Barrier

Ten countries were using child soldiers in 2013 in government military operations, compared to seven in the 2012. These ten are the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Conflict Barrier

It is estimated that there are 26 million IDPs worldwide as a result of conflicts of which 13.5 million are children. There are more when those displaced by environmental disasters are included.

Fragile situations [Insecure and Instable] are defined in the 2011 World Back Development Report as periods when states or institutions lack the capacity, accountability , or legitimacy to mediate relations between citizen groups and between citizens and the state, making them vulnerable to violence. The Inter Agency Network on Education in Emergencies includes that in fragile situations, governments may have lost the ability to provide basic services to their citizens.  There is evidence that there is a close link between institutional fragility and the risk of conflict. Fragile situations include situations of political instability that hinder economic productivity and growth, and may be accompanied by serious social dislocation. In situations of extreme instability, a complex political emergency, the risk of violent conflict escalates.

Conflict-affected situations are characterized as situations that are in or have experienced severely disruptive conflict(s).  Conflict-affected is not a distinction between war and peace. While there is no single clear definition of conflict-affected situations or states, they are situations where the existing problems are caused by an ongoing or very recent conflict, and/or there are existing problems that are associated with a previous conflict. The effects of conflicts can be the result of explosive conflicts that suddenly erupted or a protracted series of events.

How do fragile and conflict-affected situations act as barriers to education?

The 2011 World Bank Development Report found that people in fragile and conflict-affected states are more than three times as likely to be unable to send their children to school as those in other developing countries.

There are multiple ways in which fragile and conflict-affected situations act as barriers to access to and completion of a quality primary education.  A few of those are highlighted and further explored here.

These are:
➢ Armed conflict
➢ Recruitment of children as soldiers
➢ Internal displacement of persons

These are defined below. How each acts as a barrier is further developed along with ways to address and overcome the obstacle. This is not full list of barriers that are caused by fragile and conflict affected situations.

Armed conflict, here, refers to violent armed conflict –civil war, inter-state war, armed rebellion, and violent inter-communal skirmishes. Terrorism may be a weapon of such conflicts. Conflict may arise from such things as political, economic, religious or ethnic competition, and is often fuelled by failed governance institutions, poverty, corruption or ambition for power.

The ways in which Armed conflict acts as a barrier to education are further explored in Armed conflict.

Child soldiers are children under the age of 18 who are recruited by a state or non-state armed group. They are used in a variety of ways, including in active fighting - laying land mines, suicide bombers, human shields, messengers, spies, in support roles – cooking, porting, and for sexual purposes. This recruitment and use of children violates their rights and causes them physical, developmental, emotional, mental, and spiritual harm. Hundreds of thousands of children are associated with armed forces and armed groups in conflicts around the world

The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups has been a focus of international attention and has been widely condemned, yet children continue to be involved in wars and to become disabled or die in such conflicts. While release and reintegration into civilian life of some has been supported through interventions and programs designed to assist them, others have returned home on their own, often to face an uncertain future and a further battle for acceptance by their family and community. Girls in particular are likely to be stigmatized and even rejected by their community if it is known that they have been used by armed forces and the rejection of children born to them as a result of rape may be even more severe.

Some children are encouraged by their families and communities to participate in armed conflict for protection and economic reasons, despite the danger and harm this involves.

The relationship of child soldiers and access to and completion of quality primary education is further explored in Child Soldiers.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are people who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes, or places of habitual residence, as a result of - or in order to avoid - the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally border. To find out how IDP children become OOSC, read more in Internally displaced persons.

Fragile and conflict-affected situations often also result in streams of refugees who cross borders to other countries. The issue of OOSC among refugee populations is considered separately.  Explore more about this barrier in Refugees.

How pervasive is it?

As reported in the 2011 World Development Report, 1.5 billion people live in areas affected by fragility, conflict, or large-scale, organized criminal violence.  From 1998 to 2008, thirty-five countries experienced armed conflict.

In 2011, around 28 million children of primary school age in conflict-affected countries were out of school according that year’s Global Monitoring Report.  This makes up approximately 42% of the total out of school children around the world.