All children in school | Education | UNICEF

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All children in school

© UNICEF/UN060768/Sokhin
Students in a classroom during a visit by Syrian refugee and education activist Muzoon Almellehan to the Gaoui camp for Chadian returnees from the Central African Republic.

A child’s access to education is often determined by circumstances such as gender, location, conflict, disability and the family’s socioeconomic status – factors that exist before the child is born. These barriers exclude 61 million primary school age children from school and deny them a fair chance to reach their full potential. Worst, exclusion from school not only thwarts children’s individual potential but also fuels intergenerational cycles of poverty and disadvantage. It robs societies of a source of dynamic growth and development, and a chance to build social cohesion and reduce tensions that can spark violence.   Every girl and boy, regardless of who they are or where they live, is entitled to nothing less than full and complete access to quality education. But many of the world’s poorest and most marginalized children are denied this basic human right. 

Around the world:

·         61 million children of primary school age (typically aged 6-11) are not in school

·         60 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (typically aged 12-15) are not in school

·         More than one-half of all out-of-school children are in Sub-Saharan Africa

·         53 per cent of children out of school are girls

·         1 in 4 of out-of-school children live in crises-affected countries

·         Of the primary-school-aged children not in school, 20 per cent dropped out before finishing primary school, 41 per cent will probably never attend and a further 39 per cent are expected to enter school as over-age students.

On current trends, the world will not achieve universal primary education for many decades to come, much less secondary schooling for all by 2030 as set out by the Sustainable Development Goal 4. As economic crises and depletion of international education funds further stretch the resources the world is willing to devote to education, the number of children out of school will continue to stagnate and the quality of schools will decline.
Who are the out-of-school children?

The children excluded from education are among the most vulnerable in the world.

Children from the poorest families are more likely to be out of school than their peers from wealthier households, some because they have to work to help funds their families’ lives. Children living in rural areas also have less chance of going to school than those growing up in cities.

Crises, including violence, war, natural disasters and epidemics, disrupt children’s schooling, and children who are already disadvantaged because of poverty, gender or other factors suffer the most in those situations. Read more about Education in Emergencies here.

Girls are often still at a significant disadvantage in education, accounting for over half of out-of-school children of primary school age. Read more about Girls’ Education.

Children from ethnic or linguistic minorities often face obstacles like discrimination based on their origin, or lack of instruction and materials in their native language.

Many children with disabilities are excluded from education, where schools fail to make the accommodations that enable them to learn – and where stigma shuts them out of schools and the mainstream of their communities.
UNICEF’s work

Our works starts with identifying who is out of school and why. UNICEF gathers and makes these data available to governments and communities and helps them design policy interventions tailored to local, regional and national needs. 

Read more about Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, a partnership between UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics that help ensure every child has access to quality education, is ready for school at the right age and can complete primary education.



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