Children overwhelmingly identify education as their top priority at times of crisis, a new report by Save the Children shows today.
The report Education Against the Odds provides the largest analysis of what children – rather than aid planners – say they need during humanitarian emergencies. The surveys were conducted over the last five years with children aged 5-18, during humanitarian responses across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The report’s surprising findings reveal children are more than twice as likely to rank going to school as their top concern, compared to immediate needs like food, water, shelter or money.
Of 1,215 children surveyed in six countries, nearly one in three (29%) said education was their top priority. That was more than twice the number who identified food (12%), health (12%), or water and sanitation (12%) as their primary concern. It was three times the number who said they needed shelter (9%) or money (9%) most.
One child fighting against the odds to get an education is 10-year-old Ali from Idlib, Syria. He and his family fled their village to escape fighting. When they returned home, Ali’s school was in ruins after being hit by an airstrike. Nearly half of the schools in north west Syria are currently out of action.  Ali said:
“I saw my school was destroyed and broken down and it made me so sad. My friends and I, we will go back and study in it. I love my school – my wish is that it does not get bombed and destroyed again. We will rebuild it and make it better than before. I love to study. I want to become a doctor to treat people who are in need and serve my country.”
Just two per cent of funding for countries grappling with emergencies was allocated to education last year. That represents half the levels earmarked for medical care, and one tenth of the support dedicated to providing supplies of food.
262 million children, one in five globally, are out of school, many of them due to sudden or protracted crises like wars, outbreaks of disease or natural disasters.