The Issue

The Challenges

UNICEF in Action

Resources on education


Access and equity

© UNICEF/ 2010
Large disparities in access to basic education persist in CEE/CIS.

There are 2.5 million children out of school in the CEE/CIS region. There are millions more children enrolled in school but not learning because of the poor quality of education.

The gaps in school participation and learning is widened by the severe shortage of early childhood education services; preprimary enrolment rates are as low as 7 per cent in some countries.

The children that remain out of school are those from the most marginalized communities. If countries are to realise the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of achiving universal primary school enrolment, then every child must have access to education.

Sub-national enrolment figures show that certain groups of children are disproportionately under-represented in basic education systems in the region. While each country’s situation is different, certain categories of children repeatedly emerge as facing severe barriers to accessing education. 

Education for some more than others

Education for some more than others provides a comprehensive review of the situation of education access and equity in the CEE/CIS region. This study is a follow-up to Education for All, a UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre’s (IRC) 1998 Regional Monitoring Report in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. That report found a marked increase in disparities in the access and quality of education throughout the region since the onset of transition. In response, it calls for urgent attention to address the barriers excluding children from learning:.

1. Teaching methods that encourage participation and individual development;
2. Reconsideration of streaming and selection in schools;
3. Fair exam systems that allow each child to demonstrate his or her achievement;
4. Re-stimulation of extra-curricular support by schools;
5. Increased parental and community involvement in education;
6. Investigation of child labour and its links to school attendance and learning;
7. More attention to access to and quality of education for children from low-income families;
8. Integration of disabled children into regular schools;
9. Attention to the needs of ethnic minorities;
10. Encouragement of early childhood development in the broadest sense through various means;
11. Sufficient central control over local administration of schools, including curricula;
12. Adequate financial transfers to local governments with weak resource bases.

For more information on the specific challenges in access and equity, see below:

Gender-based exclusion

Children aged 3-6


Children with disabilities and learning difficulties

Children from Roma communities





Out of School Children at a Glance

Out of School Children
in the CEE/CIS Region

Published by the UNICEF Regional Office,
as part of Students as Partners initiative.

Resource on drop outs

Facing the hidden drop-out challenge in Albania

Published by the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS.


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