The Issue

The Challenges

UNICEF in Action

Resources on education


UNICEF in Action

© UNICEF/CEECIS2013P-0481/Dahlstrand
UNICEF in the region works to advance equity and quality in education for every child.

The vision guiding UNICEF’s work in education in the region of CEE/CIS is that every child in the region will access and complete basic education of good quality. Across the region, UNICEF works to maintain and enhance standards in education. We advocate for greater investment in education. The poorest countries must prioritize education to make economic progress. 

Building on the Global UNICEF Education Strategy, UNICEF priorities for education in this region focus on access to and quality of basic education, defined to include one year of pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education, always with a focus on equity and the inclusion of the most disadvantaged. UNICEF links education with other social issues relevant to each context; examples include child poverty, child labour, child trafficking, violence against children, children with disabilities and institutionalization.

UNICEF works in 21 countries and territories in the region, and has education programmes or project interventions in approximately 17 of them. Among UNICEF’s areas of comparative advantage are: technical capacity in the field of education at regional and country levels, extensive country presence, strong relationships with governments, and a reputation as a respected voice for children, especially for the most disadvantaged.

These capacities enable the organisation to work with governments and other partners on system reform for long-term improvements for education systems and children in ways relevant to the national context. For issues relevant across multiple countries, UNICEF also supports regional and sub-regional partnerships.

UNICEF commonly partners with major stakeholders, including national governments, national CSOs, other UN organisations, INGOs, development banks, and inter-governmental organisations. UNICEF’s central involvement in the UN reform process allows it to play a convening and coalescing role to help partners work together in the spirit of the one UN approach. More generally, UNICEF’s commitment to the principles of the Paris Declaration and its commitment to serving as partner and coordinator in education reform efforts enables UNICEF to ensure the benefit from the limited financial and human resources of all partners is maximised for greatest impact on education systems across the region.

An important contribution to knowledge generation is self-assessment, which produces knowledge valuable to UNICEF offices and other development partners in the region and worldwide. Through extensive internal dialogue and evaluation, UNICEF has identified several challenges for effective education interventions; too often, efforts are fragmented, short-term, ad-hoc, de-linked from national priorities, and often responding to a specific short-term need or situation, rather than addressing larger policy issues to induce system change.

However, many of UNICEF’s education projects are of good quality and have potential for expansion, replication and mainstreaming within government policies, yet these projects have too rarely been brought to scale and therefore, have not been able to induce significant and lasting systemic changes in the education sectors of their respective countries.



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