Nearly two-thirds of the six million school-age children classified as refugees have no school to attend, the United Nations said Thursday in a report highlighting education as an overlooked casualty of the global refugee crisis.
The report, issued by the United Nations refugee agency, also said refugee children are roughly five times more likely to be not in school than the global average.
It said that in 2014 alone, the refugee school-age population grew by 30 percent.
Refugees often live in regions where governments are already struggling to educate their own children, the report said, further compounding the problem.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said in the report that the lack of schools and teachers for children was a “sorely neglected” facet of the swelling population of refugees.
“This represents a crisis for millions of refugee children,” he said.
The report was issued before the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings next week in New York, where the global crisis in refugees and migrants — the worst since World War II — will be a main theme. President Obama is to lead a special summit meeting on the crisis.
Mr. Grandi exhorted leaders to pay more attention to the education disparity confronting refugees, saying “it is essential that we think beyond basic survival.”
Roughly 1.75 million refugee children are not enrolled in primary school and 1.95 million refugee adolescents are not in secondary school, the refugee agency report said.
Its findings were based partly on a comparison of refugee data with global school enrollment data compiled by Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The report said only 50 percent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of more than 90 percent. As children grow older the gap widens — 22 percent of refugee adolescents attend secondary school, compared with the global average of 84 percent. One percent of refugees attend college, compared with the global average of 34 percent.
More than half the world’s not-in-school refugee children live in seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the report.
It singled out the Syrian civil war as both a prime contributor to the refugee crisis and an example of how armed conflict can devastate educational progress. In 2009, 94 percent of school-age Syrian children attended school, compared with 60 percent as of June of this year, the report added.