Reducing the number of out-of-school children

We work to reduce the number of out-of-school children in South Asia and improve the quality of education from early childhood to adolescence.

UNICEF ROSA/2016/Pirozzi


Since the early 2000s, South Asia has shown remarkable progress in increasing school through the introduction of policies and interventions that have expanded education coverage and reduced out-of-school children (OOSC). Of the 278 million children of primary and secondary school age in South Asia, 31.9 million were out-of-school in 2014.


Gender discrimination, disasters and armed conflict, language challenges, household poverty, child labour, child marriage and factors related to disability are some of the main barriers that keep children out of school in South Asia. India and Pakistan combined account for more than 80% of South Asia’s total OOSC, followed by Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal. 

Since 2007, the reduction in out-of-school children has stagnated. While there has been significant progress in expanded access to early childhood education, only half of South Asia’s children attend pre-school. Increasing early childhood enrolment is crucial to ensuring school retention.


Reducing the number of out-of-school children in South Asia has to be a multi-sectoral approach involving governments, the private sector, media, and communities. UNICEF supports countries in the region by generating an in-depth analysis of out-of-school children based on where they are concentrated to help guide targeted interventions. We build evidence around and analyse high impact interventions to prioritize them. As knowledge managers, we document and generate knowledge and promote the dissemination and exchange of best practices and interventions. 

UNICEF provides provide its partners with the tools and support it needs to strengthen programming that will improve equitable access to learning, leading to a reduction in the number of OOSC. We give technical support to pilot and scale up interventions that promote on-time enrolment, reduce drop-out, reenrol children who have dropped out, and provide alternative pathways to education.


Coming soon ...