Every child in school

Reducing the number of out of school children.

A child standing in school.
UNICEF/UN0326410/Boro

India has many accomplishments to celebrate in the education sector. At least 70 million children attend pre-primary school in India. The Country has a near universal primary enrolment and there is a consistent increase in upper primary (lower secondary) class participation with seven states having reported improved learning outcomes.

Nonetheless, much remains to be done as most children who are in school are not learning at grade appropriate levels. Children are being pushed out of the education system due to poor quality - teacher-centric teaching and learning practices with content that is abstract to students.   

Nearly six million children in the age group of 6-13 years in India remain out of school and the majority are from marginalized communities including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and religious minority groups. 

Some 29 per cent of girls and boys drop out of school before completing the full cycle of elementary education. The numbers become contentious and alarming when one includes post elementary and high school.  They are often the most marginalized children. UNICEF is working with partners to reduce the number of out of school girls by 1.45 million in six states of India.

The majority (75 per cent) of out of school children are concentrated in six states: Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajsthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

UNICEF has a strategic engagement with the education sector in India in partnership with government and aims at making education relevant for the diverse communities of the Indian society, adapting the philosophy of education and the values it promotes.

Given that about 29 per cent of children who begin Grade I, do not make it through elementary education and of those who complete, nearly half of them are not achieving basic proficiency level in reading and numeracy. The severe deficiency in  learning hinders children in fully participate with the next levels of education, our work aims to enable quality, grade-appropriate education from early childhood through elementary for all children.                               

Children attend at an anganwadi school at Kharjan Tea Estate in Dibrughar, Assam on June 29, 2019.
UNICEF/UN0326401/Boro
Children attend at an anganwadi school at Kharjan Tea Estate in Dibrughar, Assam on June 29, 2019.

UNICEFs programming in education towards ensuring all children are in school and learning is:

  • Building foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for a solid early learning
  • Supporting transitions at all levels especially for girls and other marginalized groups
  • Creating a safe environment for learning with transferable skills at elementary level

Fostering learning with requisite foundational and transferable skills in secondary education are critical if the 250 million adolescents in India must access economic opportunities essential for their development.

UNICEF also supports the government to strengthen life skills development (skills for learning, self-empowerment, social and employability) for children aged 3 to 18 years. These soft skills are prerequisites that allow children to negotiate the very dynamic Indian context. The approach includes supporting governments to develop context specific frameworks and implementation plans to integrate life skills into continuous professional development, teaching and learning and the organization of schooling. In addition, sports for development and school leadership through Children’s Cabinet in schools have proven to be vibrant participatory fora to gain life skills.

Our support will allow the realization of quality early childhood education with equity and inclusivity that would ensure children’s developmental readiness. We aim to reduce the number of out of school children by three million through on time enrolment, regular attendance and flexible learning for elementary and secondary aged children. In addition, we will aim to improve learning levels by 15 per cent while ensuring foundational and transferable skills development.