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The importance of education to human development is emphasised by its central place in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and reflected in the global initiative Education for All (EFA) aimed at securing primary education for all children by the year 2015. There are many impediments to the achievement of universal primary education. These include lack of priority to education on the part of national governments such as, insufficient spending as a percentage of GNP or inequitable distribution of funding and resources. Significant barriers to education, particularly within low income countries, include poverty, child labour, distance from school, unequal access due to gender or cultural factors and the existence of conflict. Although the number of out-of-school primary-age children in the world has fallen in recent years, there has been little improvement in conflict affected countries. These countries are home to half of all children out of school (currently 28.5 million out of 57 million children), yet they receive less than one-fifth of education aid. This paper draws on research for the 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report to highlight a number of significant challenges for education in these countries and the contribution that education might make to longer term peacebuilding.
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