Nearly 15 million children between 5-14 years old are out of school in the MENA region, and 10 million are in school but at risk of dropping out. Conflicts and crises continue to take a heavy toll on children and youth. By the end of 2017, the armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen brought back the number of regional out-of-school children to its 2007 level. Of these out-of-school children, an estimated number of over 3 million should have been in school if the crises never happened.
The MENA Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI) is part of the global OOSCl Launched by UNICEF and UNESCO UIS in 2010, to improve the statistical information and analysis on out-of-school children, understand not just how many children are out of school, but who they are and where, and what are the barriers that exclude them from education, and to analyze the existing and needed policies and strategies related to enhanced school participation
The ultimate goal is to improve interventions that address the issue of out-of-school children through more effective and equitable targeting. This is particularly key in MENA, constituted mostly of middle-income countries and experiencing a complex and challenging context that combines intense and protracted crises together with high inequalities among and within countries.
Eleven countries in MENA have already undertaken analysis on out-of-school children within the framework of the OOSCI Initiative (Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, State of Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen). In addition, OOSCI is now expanding to Iran, Lebanon, and Libya. Efforts are also ongoing in all countries of the region to strengthen tracking systems and improve the response.