The quantitative impact of armed conflict on education: counting the human and financial costs
Recent media reports from Gaza, Nigeria and Syria clearly demonstrate the direct and immediate effects of armed conflict on children’s access to school. Schools are destroyed, used by military forces or occupied by displaced people. Teachers and students are killed, kidnapped, injured and traumatised. Even where schooling continues, conflict has a knock-on negative impact on learning and the quality of education received by children. Evidence documented in the Education under Attack series of reports demonstrates that several thousands of schools are impacted by targeted attacks each year, with the education of hundreds of thousands of students being interrupted, in some cases permanently. However, the figures for out-of-school children (OOSC) in conflict-affected countries number in tens of millions rather than hundreds of thousands. This study looks at the wider impacts of conflict, including collateral damage and indirect impacts on education, and finds that in quantitative terms, targeted attacks represent only the tip of the iceberg. Untangling the interrelationship between conflict, state fragility, low economic development and low school enrolment is complex. But the scale of the indirect impact of conflict on education, as a result of reduced or stagnated education development, is likely to be of an order of magnitude greater than the numbers who have had their education interrupted due to the more direct, immediate impacts experienced at the local level.