School children in India. (Photo: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

More than 25 million children are missing out on school in conflict zones across the African continent.

This equates to 22 percent of the total population of children, mostly aged between six and 15 years old.

At the primary school level, South Sudan has the highest rate of out-of-school children, with close to 72 percent of children missing out. It is followed by Chad (50 percent).

At the lower-secondary school level, the highest rates of out-of-school children are found in Niger (68 percent), South Sudan (60 percent) and the Central African Republic (55 percent).

The rates for girls spike for this age group, with nearly three quarters of girls in Niger and two in three in the Central African Republic not in school.

Speaking from Dakar, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) chief of education Josephine Bourne said at no time is education more important than in times of war. “Without education, how will children reach their full potential and contribute to the future and stability of their families, communities and economies?” she asked.

Unicef works in conflict-affected countries to get children back to learning, by providing catch-up education and informal learning opportunities, training teachers, rehabilitating schools and distributing school furniture and supplies.