Investing in education

Every child has the right to inclusive and equitable quality education.


14 million children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean are outside the education system

Latin America and the Caribbean have made progress in increasing the enrollment in pre-primary, primary and secondary education the last decades. Yet, there are still gaps in the access and completion of education as 14 million children and adolescents ranging between ages 7 to 18 are out of the educational system.

In the region, 1.6 million children are excluded from preprimary education, 3.6 million children are out of primary school, and the situation is more critical at the secondary level where 2.8 million children and adolescents are out of lower secondary school and 7.6 million in upper secondary. The percentage of children and adolescents out of school in the early years of secondary education in Latin America and the Caribbean is 7.7% which is almost 4 times higher than in developed countries (2.1%).

Children and adolescents living in remote communities and vulnerable areas, from indigenous populations, those exposed to violence, living with a disability, facing gender and ethnic discrimination are more affected and more likely to experience greater barriers in fulfilling their right to education.

Indigenous children have improved their access to primary education, but access to secondary education is not as widespread, with about 30% of indigenous adolescents out of school and many of them experiencing low quality education. 7 out of 10 children with disabilities do not attend school and over 8 million of these children and adolescents are at risk of being excluded.


A fundamental human right

Education is a fundamental human right and a decisive tool for the development of people and societies. It plays a vital role in building human capital, breaking the cycle of poverty, promoting economic productivity, and eliminating social disparities and inequities.

Investment in young children and adolescents must be a cornerstone of national government policies, development cooperation, global frameworks and responsible business practices.

Therefore, UNICEF advocates and works in partnership with other agencies of the United Nations System, governments, civil society organizations and communities in a coordinated manner so that all children and adolescents in the region can fulfill their right to an inclusive and equitable quality education, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”


Strategic areas of work

  • Improving access to quality education and equity in education including in fragile and humanitarian settings.
  • Enhancing learning and skills development including in fragile and humanitarian settings.
  • Integrated early childhood development, including early learning including in fragile and humanitarian settings.

Related Campaigns and Programmes

Early Childhood Development

Children and Adolescents with Disabilities

UNICEF in Emergencies


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Take action

No child should be denied to their right to inclusive and equitable quality education. Your donation can help UNICEF and its partners make sure every child can go to school and learn.