17/11/2017 11:36 GMT | Updated 17/11/2017 11:36 GMT

Universal Children’s Day - The Education Crisis In West Africa

Universal Children’s Day is about standing up for children like Abu

Children’s access to education has been a basic human right in the UK since 1870 but a child born in West Africa is amongst the least likely in the world to learn to read and write.

As a region, West Africa has some of the worst education indicators in the world. Nigeria is home to the world’s highest number of out-of-school children, less than half of children in Sierra Leone go to secondary school and Liberia is expected to be the last country on earth to achieve education for all.

Yet education has the power to transform lives. On Universal Children’s Day, it’s important to stand up for every child’s right to learn. Children like Abu.

Street Child
There are an estimated 32,000 children like Abu who have been orphaned or abandoned by the conflict in Northeast Nigeria.

Abu was born in Gamboru, Borno State in Northeast Nigeria. He lost both his parents to conflict in the region. Fleeing his home, he eventually arrived in Maiduguri, the state capital. Abu was alone, knew no one, and had nowhere to go for food or shelter. The hope of school is a long way off.

“There is no food, no shelter, come rain come shine we will always be here under this tree.”

The ongoing conflict in Northeast Nigeria has left over 3 million children out of school. Sadly, in emergencies, education is often neglected. But the longer a child is out of school, the less likely they are to return. What’s more, giving a child the chance to go to school offers them a safe space to be themselves again, to play and to learn. When a child’s world has been turned upside down, education is a chance of a normal life.

NGO Street Child is working to give thousands of vulnerable children impacted by conflict in Northeast Nigeria that chance.

Universal Children’s Day is about standing up for children like Abu. We must keep striving to ensure that every child is given the chance to go to school and learn.

Street Child is an NGO working in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Nepal supporting the most vulnerable children to go to school and learn. Their latest UK Aid Match appeal ‘Right to Learn’ will help 10,000 of the most vulnerable children in West Africa to access education.

Until 15th February all donations to the Right to Learn appeal will be matched by the UK government, pound for pound, transforming twice as many lives. To learn more visit: