The goal of UNICEF Zimbabwe Education Programme is to increase equitable access to, and completion of, quality, inclusive education, with improved learning outcomes.

School children at Binga Primary school smile while reading books at the school
UNICEF/UN050424/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

The Challenge

Chidren writing
UNICEF/UN05040/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

An estimated 250 million children in the world cannot read, write or do basic math – 130 million of them have never attended school.

The children excluded from learning opportunities are among the most vulnerable and hard to reach in the world.In the past decade, millions of children around the world have gained access to educational opportunities. But there is still much work to be done. By the end of the 2015 school year, 61 million children of primary school age (about 6 to 11 years), 62 million young adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14 years), and 141 million youth of upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17 years) were out of school.

Zimbabwe continues to face serious economic challenges with significant implications on the education system. While the percentage of the national budget allocated to the education sector continues to be high, a huge chunk of it goes towards human resources.

At least 93 per cent of the $905 million allocated to the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry in the 2018 national budget will go towards employment costs, leaving a measly seven per cent for capital expenditure.

The Solution

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

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.  Despite challenges, the education sector has made significant achievements. This has largely been a result of a collaborative effort by UNICEF and the Government of Zimbabwe including:


  • the preparation of a credible, fully costed and equity-focused 2016–2020 Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP)
  • the decentralized collection, capture and use of 2016 Education Management Information System (EMIS) data, and
  • an equity-focused education sector performance review

These interventions strengthened the system despite resource constraints.

UNICEF supported the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to strengthen the EMIS system, which involved the decentralisation, web-based capture and cleaning of 2016 data. This led to the timely availability of data for informed policy and decision-making at all levels.

Members of the Environment Management Club at Regina Mundi High School
Members of the Environment Management Club at Regina Mundi High School

UNICEF in numbers

  • In 2016, UNICEF support to the expansion of access to primary and secondary education bore fruit, especially for disadvantaged social groups. Although they have lagged, learning outcomes have also steadily improved, reflecting a strengthened education sector that, however, remains severely under-resourced.
  • 3,159 out of the 3,200 schools targeted (98 per cent) received school improvement grants in 2016, benefitting just over 750,000 children. The grants have contributed to the improvement of the schools’ physical environment and to the availability of teaching and learning materials. Income from the grants also enhanced the retention of poor children in school by subsidising their overall costs of education.
  • The 10.7 per cent increase in gross enrolment rates in early childhood centres between 2015 and 2016 may also be attributed to the implementation of the home-grown school feeding programme by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with design support from UNICEF
  • The number of children with disabilities enrolled increased from 34,734 in 2015 to 49,692 in 2016.
  • In 2016, 120 refugee children fleeing conflict in Mozambique were provided with classroom tents.