UNICEF is committed to ensuring all children in South Asia have access to inclusive and equitable quality education.

Students in class room


Education is a basic human right and a basis for the realization of all other rights. It is vital for development and the well-being of individuals and societies as a whole. In South Asia, 11.3 million children at the primary level and 20.6 million children at the lower secondary level are out-of-school. Millions of children complete primary education without mastering the foundational skills of basic numeracy and literacy. 

Classrooms in South Asia are teacher-centred and rote-based, and children are subjected to corporal punishment and discrimination. Girls face incredible hurdles to pursue their education in the region. Improvements in the quality of teaching can reduce dropout rates and ensure better transitions from early childhood learning into primary and secondary education. 

South Asia is vulnerable to natural hazards, political instability, rising extremism and civil strife, which can adversely affect children’s learning environment. Natural and man-made crises increase the difficulty in delivering quality education services to children. In addition to this, low levels of public finance for education limits the delivery of inclusive and equitable quality education. 

UNICEF works with partners in the region to address the challenges that keep children out of school. Our programmes ensure children from the most marginalized communities get an opportunity, empowering them with the skills to learn and become active and employable citizens. 


UNICEF is working with governments and partners in the region to ensure 10 million previously out-of-school girls and boys in South Asia will be enrolled and learning in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools by 2021. To achieve this target, UNICEF will improve education systems by sharing child-centred learning practices in schools across the region. 

For people who are struggling to survive, their children’s education becomes a lesser priority. Children from poor families are most likely to leave school, never to return. UNICEF is committed to working with regional governments to increase financing of education programmes to reach such children. We utilize an evidence-based approach to advocate and lead the development of policies, analyse key drivers of change, and identify key knowledge gaps.   

UNICEF builds regional partnerships – with South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), UN agencies, development partners, think thanks, civil society organizations, the media, the private sector and other key stakeholders – to encourage political commitment and increase the accountability of governments to work on programmes that ensure every child is learning. We facilitate cooperation across the region to advocate, train and share knowledge on how best to improve education systems. 

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Education is a basic human right and a basis for the realization of all other rights.