Including all out-of-school children in quality learning
All children and adolescents have the right to quality education.
In 2013, the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS and 16 countries launched a regional initiative to advance equity in education and learning for the most marginalized children.
Although national enrolment rates are high in the CEE/CIS region, 2.5 million children of basic school age and 1.6 million children of pre-primary school age are out of school. At the secondary level, an estimated 12 million adolescents are not in school. Additionally, there are many more children, perhaps millions, from the most marginalized communities, that are excluded from national data collection procedures and thus are invisible in national indicators on education. For example, there are an estimated 5.1 million children with disabilities in the region, the majority of which are likely to be out of school.
A close look at the profiles of children out of school shows that children out of school are those from the most socially, culturally and economically marginalized communities. Major equity gaps in education exist in enrolment, school completion and learning rates between minority children and their peers from majority populations.
The children and adolescents from marginalized communities that manage to stay in school often experience barriers to learning. Learning outcomes across the region are already worryingly low, with about half of 15-year-olds failing to master basic reading and mathematics skills, according to the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009.
But for marginalized children, learning levels are even lower; there are severe equity gaps in learning outcomes across the region between children and adolescents from marginalized communities, minority language groups and poor families and their peers from majority and wealthier backgrounds. Marginalized children need more support in learning than other children and the quality of education today does not permit for that support. Gaps in learning contribute to children and adolescents leaving school before completing.
The vision behind this initiative is for every child in the region to be included in quality learning regardless of economic, social, systemic and individual barriers.
UNICEF and its partners will support participating governments in the region to achieve this vision by tackling the system level barriers obstructing marginalized children’s school participation and learning.
Out-of-school children in the region
Published by the UNICEF Regional Office and graduate students from Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2009.