News in Brief 20 April 2017 (AM)

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Students at a university library in Rabat, Morocco. Photo: Arne Hoel/World Bank

States struggling to keep pace with growing demand for higher education

Governments are struggling to keep pace with the growing demand for higher education, a new report by the UN Cultural Agency, UNESCO, has found.

The number of university level students doubled to 207 million between 2000 and 2014, the agency says.

Also, there are large disparities in access, with the cost of higher education often falling to families, many of whom cannot afford it.

The new paper entitled "six ways to ensure higher education leaves no one behind," sets out a series of measures to make higher education more equitable and affordable.

It also recommends that student loan repayments not exceed 15 per cent of a student's monthly income.

Anything more threatens to leave the disadvantaged behind, the report warns.

Only 1 per cent of the poorest students have spent more than four years in higher education, compared to 20 per cent of the richest, it adds.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO urged governments to respond to the rise in demand for higher education by introducing a range of new policies that access is based on merit, not privilege.

UN expresses concern over deteriorating situation in South Libya

The tense situation in and around the Libyan town of Tamanhint, where intermittent fighting continues to be reported, is a serious cause for concern, the deputy head of the UN Mission in the country, UNSMIL, has confirmed.

Maria do Valle Riberio, who is also the deputy special envoy for the Secretary-General, issued a statement on Tuesday calling on all parties "to immediately cease all hostilities to prevent further human suffering".

UNSMIL has received reports of food, water and medicine shortages, as well as increased electricity cuts.

Families are also fleeing their homes in Tamanhint to Sabha and Ubari, both oasis towns located in southwestern Libya.

The violence in Libya stems from the fall of President Muammar al-Qhadafi in 2011.

An internationally supported government set up a base in the western capital, Tripoli in 2016.

UN rights committee urges accountability for attacks against Syria children

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called for accountability for the "reprehensible acts" being committed against children in Syria.

The Committee Chair, Benyam Dawit Mezmur, said children are bearing the brunt of horrific attacks in Syria.

He pointed to the recent attack on an evacuation convoy in Rashidin, near western Aleppo, as well as another attack that took place in southern Idlib in early April, where chemical weapons were reportedly used.

2016 was already the worst year for Syria's six million children affected by the conflict, Mr Mezmur underscored, adding that they have been "killed, maimed, subjected to sexual violence and traumatized".

Almost 2.4 million have been displaced and 2.8 million are living in hard to reach areas with a further 280,000 in besieged areas.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 3’03″

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