Every child has the right to learn.
A child’s right to education entails the right to learn. Yet, for too many children across the globe, schooling does not lead to learning.
Over 600 million children worldwide are unable to attain minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, even though two thirds of them are in school. For out-of-school children, foundational skills in literacy and numeracy are further from grasp.
Children are deprived of education for various reasons. Poverty remains one of the most obstinate barriers. Children living through economic fragility, political instability, conflict or natural disaster are more likely to be cut off from schooling – as are those with disabilities, or from ethnic minorities. In some countries, education opportunities for girls remain severely limited.
Even in schools, a lack of trained teachers, inadequate education materials and poor infrastructure make learning difficult for many students. Others come to class too hungry, ill or exhausted from work or household tasks to benefit from their lessons.
Compounding these inequities is a digital divide of growing concern: Most of the world’s school-aged children do not have internet connection in their homes, restricting their opportunities to further their learning and skills development.
Without quality education, children face considerable barriers to employment later in life. They are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes and less likely to participate in decisions that affect them – threatening their ability to shape a better future for themselves and their societies.
What we do
Education is a basic human right. In 147 countries around the world, UNICEF works to provide quality learning opportunities that prepare children and adolescents with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive. We focus on:
Equitable access: Access to quality education and skills development must be equitable and inclusive for all children and adolescents, regardless of who they are or where they live. We make targeted efforts to reach children who are excluded from education and learning on the basis of gender, disability, poverty, ethnicity and language.
Quality learning: Outcomes must be at the centre of our work to close the gap between what students are learning and what they need to thrive in their communities and future jobs. Quality learning requires a safe, friendly environment, qualified and motivated teachers, and instruction in languages students can understand. It also requires that education outcomes be monitored and feed back into instruction.
Education in emergencies: Children living through conflict, natural disaster and displacement are in urgent need of educational support. Crises not only halt children’s learning but also roll back their gains. In many emergencies, UNICEF is the largest provider of educational support throughout humanitarian response, working with UNHCR, WFP and other partners.