Access to Education

Although getting an education is a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it's a right that 69 million children are missing out on.

But as Nelson Mandela said, 'Education is the greatest weapon with which we can change the world' - and it is particularly important in war-torn countries. It's a major focus of our work. As ever, poverty and conflict are inextricably linked.

How many children are missing out on school in conflict-affected countries?

It is estimated that there are almost 40 million children out of school in conflict-affected countries. that means that more than half of the world's out of school children live in conflict-affected countries.

How does conflict stop kids from going to school?

  • Their school may be damaged or destroyed by the conflict.
  • Their teachers may have been killed, have fled, or have been forced into joining the fighting.
  • Disease or illness may prevent them from attending. Children often suffer from easily preventable or treatable diseases like diarrohea or malaria because they don't have access to basic healthcare services.
  • Children and their families may have been forced to flee their homes and may live in displacement camps where there are no schools or education opportunities.
  • The conflict may have separated their families or destroyed their family income - meaning that children may need to work instead of going to school, or stay at home to look after young/sick relatives so other carers can earn an income.
  • School or birth certificates are often lost or destroyed by the conflict - preventing children from re-enrolling in a new school.
  • In some communities, education - especially for girls - is not valued. This is particularly true in conflict areas where short-term survival needs often take precedence over investing in childrens' futures.

Why is getting an education so vital in conflict-affected countries?

Education saves lives, especially in countries affected by war. A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to live to see their 5th birthday.

Schools usually provide a safe, protective environment and a chance for children to socialise with each other. They teach children how to stay safe - both in terms of avoiding landmines/unexploded ordinance but also in terms of avoiding disease, treating drinking water properly etc.

What is War Child doing?


In Afghanistan we're providing education for the street children who use our drop-in-centres. We've also opened 20 Early Childhood Development Centres to provide 620 children aged 4-6 with a pre-school education.

Democratic Republic of Congo

We're providing vocation training for children and young people in our project at the City of Hope outside Kinshasa. our new project in Goma will also help street girls and former girl child soldiers to get an education as part of the reintegration process.


In Iraq we're providing life-skills education and basic literacy courses for out-of-school girls. We're also rehabilitating six schools - providing new classrooms, toilet facilities, safe play areas and water points.


In Uganda we're helping thousands of children back into school by providing them with uniforms and books/stationery. We're also helping to build new schools and are helping disabled children access mainstream education. We provide accelerated learning and vocational training for girl-mothers and children who had been abducted into rebel forces.

In Kinshasa our Night Ambulance patches up street kids in one of the roughest neighbourhoods, and our drop-in centre is a safe haven for girls who are forced to make a living through prostitution.

Our new project in the Central African Republic will be helping street kids in the capital Bangui.

We run a drop-in centre in Afghanistan where many children work on the streets due to the extreme poverty at home.

'For a girl like Bernadette arriving on the streets of Kinshasa, her ‘initiation’ is only a matter of time...'

Find out what happened to her...