All children learning

One billion children attend school every day, but many are still left out of learning

On any given day, more than 1 billion of the world’s children go to school. They go to learn – but too often, that does not happen.

For many, learning becomes difficult because of discrimination, bullying, poor sanitation facilities, crumbling buildings or makeshift classes. Others come to school too hungry or sick, or exhausted from work or household tasks, to benefit from their lessons.


Learning crisis in numbers

An estimated 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. This includes:

Children sitting at tables together, learning to draw.

387 million children of primary school age (about 6 to 11), out of whom 262 million are already in school. 

A very young girl smiles and rides her bike around.

230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14). 137 million of them are in school.

Who are the children deprived of learning?

Children with disabilities, those exposed to violence, abuse, and deprivation during humanitarian crises, those who speak minority languages: these are the children missing out from learning. In some countries, gender plays a role in how children perform in school.

Even if these children make it to school, they still face inequities in learning. For example, children from the richest 20 per cent of households are much more likely to achieve minimum standards in reading than children from the poorest.

Learning pays back: an added year of quality education can increase an individual’s income by 10 per cent. Yet the most marginalized children miss out the most from learning.

Smiling students sitting at desks.
A group of cheering students at a primary school in Gonzagueville, a commune of Côte d'Ivoire's capital, Abidjan.

UNICEF’s work

UNICEF is committed to securing safe, rights-based, quality education for every child, irrespective of her or his circumstances.  

We work to identify barriers that lead to poor performance and work with governments, partners and communities to remove them and to provide children with quality education.  

Quality education means education that equips children to succeed in school, perform productive work, take care of themselves, lead fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities and societies.

Assessment is how we measure learning. When well designed, assessment serves a number of critical purposes – it determines whether individual students are learning, can monitor countries’ progress towards learning goals, identifies children’s specific needs and uncovers disparities between regions and population groups.

Read more about UNICEF’s Child Friendly Schools – a holistic approach that seeks to establish safe, healthy, nurturing environments that support children’s learning, so that every child can reach her or his full potential.