Every child has the right to go to school and learn
Education contributes to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It reduces poverty, drives sustainable economic growth, prevents inequality and injustice, leads to better health – particularly for women and children – and it helps to protect the planet. Education empowers children and adolescents.
The East Asia and Pacific region is home to one-third of the world’s population and more than one-quarter of the world’s children – around 580 million children in total. Over the past decades, many countries in the region have achieved impressive progress and increased enrollment, retention and completion rates while also reducing gender gaps.
However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries in the region were facing a persistent learning crisis: at least 35 million children were still out of school or did not have access to quality education because of their socioeconomic status, geographical location, disability, ethnicity, language and gender. While enrollment has improved in many countries across the region, millions of children in school were not adequately learning. Twenty per cent of children lived in learning poverty – unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Millions of children completed primary education without mastering the foundational skills of basic numeracy and literacy, let alone important 21st-century skills, required for meaningful employment, personal well-being and active participation in society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has more than ever put at risk the education of children, adolescents and young people and has caused the largest education disruption ever in history. The pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing challenges in access to education and quality learning and skills and the impacts of the crisis continue to disrupt the education of more than 325 million children and adolescents across countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
National health and education systems are facing a challenge to provide continued learning opportunities in places where schools have closed and to protect students upon school reopening. While almost all countries in the region established distance learning programmes, at least 80 million children in the region were not able to continue learning remotely, mainly due to a lack of equipment needed for learning at home. The ongoing pandemic and recurring school closures put at risk the education and future of millions of children throughout the region and threaten to reverse the progress achieved over the past decades.
Education transforms lives and breaks the cycle of poverty that traps so many children. UNICEF is committed to making sure every child has access to a quality education, no matter who or where they are. We work with governments and partners throughout the region to help make sure education reaches the most vulnerable, that systems work effectively for children, and that no child is left behind.
In 27 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, UNICEF works to provide learning opportunities that prepare children and adolescents with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive.
Key areas of our work in education include:
- Early learning and ECD: high- quality, innovative, and inclusive early learning interventions to build strong foundations for children’s development and future.
- Inclusive and quality primary education: strengthened equity, learning and skills in primary school years and for marginalized groups such as children with disabilities and ethnolinguistic minority children;
- Adolescent and second-decade education: expanded and improved second-decade education and learning;
- Emergencies, disaster risk reduction and climate change: improved learning and protection for children in emergencies and strengthened capacities of education systems to adapt and respond to disasters and climate change.
- Education sector plans and governance: strengthened education sector diagnosis, policy and strategy formulation, and implementation planning to achieve learning for all.
The lesson of the learning crisis is clear: business as usual is not improving learning outcomes. A new, more radical approach that focuses on enhancing learning is long overdue and forms the basis of UNICEF’s global education strategy.
- Continuity of learning and safe school reopening: access to quality high-tech, low-tech and no-tech learning materials during school closures, continued learning during the pandemic and safe reopening and operations of schools.
- Addressing learning loss: availability of essential learning recovery packages to mitigate learning loss.
- Building back better: increase education system resilience and better learning outcomes for children.
To build a world in which every child learns, UNICEF will increasingly promote equity and inclusion. This includes making targeted efforts for children who are excluded on the basis of gender, disability, poverty, ethnicity and language, as well as those who are displaced or affected by emergencies.
Early childhood presents an incomparable window of opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life
Adolescents Learning and Skills
The second decade of life is a time of transformation. During adolescence, girls and boys begin to interact with the world in new ways
Equity and Learning in Primary Education
Access to primary education is a basic right for every child. An effective primary education can build a solid foundation and open avenues for future success
Out-of-School Children & Effective Schools
Education systems are highly complex and unique in each country. Getting all children in school for effective learning, requires strong commitment, investment and partnerships
Education in Emergencies
Countries in the East Asia and Pacific region are among the most disaster-prone in the world. Children are especially affected, particularly the most vulnerable
Education and COVID-19 Response
The countries in the East Asia and Pacific region were the first to be impacted by COVID-19 and the ensuing major public health emergency caused by the pandemic