21M children out of school or at risk of dropping out in Mideast and North Africa

A new United Nations report says 21 million children in the Middle East and North Africa are out of school or at risk of dropping out despite improved access to education in the region over the past decade.

The UNESCO and UNICEF report released Wednesday says conflict, gender discrimination, child labor, poverty and other factors prevent children from attending school.

The report says countries in the region have invested in education over the past decade, which helped push up enrollment rates. But it says progress has slowed in recent years.

To improve the situation, the UN agencies say states should address discrimination against girls, work to lower dropout rates, boost pre-primary education and protect education for children affected by conflict.

The region includes 20 countries, stretching from Morocco to Iraq.