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UNICEF Finds 40 Percent Of Afghan Kids Out Of School

Afghan students display their creations during an exhibition of handicrafts, in Herat, October 2015.

Nearly one in four children growing up in conflict zones are missing out on education, with Afghanistan among the four worst-affected countries, the United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) said on January 12.

An estimated 24 million children of school age are not in school in 22 countries affected by conflict, the agency found.

South Sudan has the largest proportion of children out of school, 51 percent, followed by 47 percent in Niger, 41 percent in Sudan, and 40 percent in Afghanistan.

"When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups," said Jo Bourne, UNICEF's head of education.

"School equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the conflict is over, and in the short-term it provides them with the stability and structure required to cope with the trauma they have experienced," said Bourne.

Education is one of the least funded sectors by humanitarian agencies. In 2014, it received 2 percent of humanitarian aid. The UN said 10 times as much is needed for education in conflict zones.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Newsweek