East Asia and the Pacific has achieved more than any other region in increasing children’s access to basic education. In 1970, more than 50 million primary school-aged children were not enrolled in school. Today, that has dropped to less than 7 million. Yet many people who are poor and marginalized are still being denied quality education – or any education at all. Consequently, disparities remain and deepen.
To help countries move forward by reaching those left behind, EAPRO’s Education section focuses on four areas:
1. Early childhood development focuses on giving every child a good start in life. UNICEF helped establish the Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood in 2008 and brought together over 100 experts on health, education and social welfare from 18 countries to examine early childhood development policy, governance and financing for the region. UNICEF’s Country Offices have also participated in forming national Early Learning Development Standards.
2. Adolescent education. Of an estimated 345 million adolescents, aged 11–19, the Asia and Pacific region, an estimated 239 million have either dropped out or are not learning adequately because of partial attendance. The Adolescent Education strategy provides a road map for engaging adolescents and identifying actions that can empower them to keep learning. It favours basic livelihood, life skills and practical vocational education for those who have not completed lower secondary education.
3. Gender equality is addressed through advocacy, public awareness campaigns and the development and dissemination of good practices in gender equality.
UNICEF also works closely with schools to improve children’s chances of staying in class:
4. Quality education is promoted through the UNICEF-originated Child Friendly Schools (CFS) Principles and Framework. Many countries in the region are expanding the application of CFS principles into national policies and developing national CFS standards. Various pilots have introduced innovations that are now being adopted.
Other interventions to improve the quality of education:
UNESCO and UIS Bangkok have been close collaborators with UNICEF on the EFA Mid-Decade Assessment, compiling regional, disaggregated data into a database called EFAInfo. This data provides policy makers with a clearer picture of disparities within the education sector so they can make evidence-based decisions on education funding and resource allocation targeting the most disadvantaged.
UNICEF in focus