UNICEF, UCW, UNESCO www.uncef.org/education

Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits. Yet millions of children and adults remain deprived of educational opportunities, many as a result of poverty. 

Despite dramatic improvements during past decade, progress towards achieving universal primary education has stagnated, as deeply entrenched structural inequities continue to keep children out of school. As of 2011, more than 57 million children were still denied the right to primary education and nearly half of them will probably never enter a classroom.

Out of 57 million children not in school:

  • 49% never entered school
  • 23% dropped out
  • 28% started late

Around 52 per cent of out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa and another 22 per cent live in South and West Asia. In both regions, girls are less likely to enroll than boys. Children from poor households, rural areas or ethnic minorities, children with disabilities, and children who must work to help their families face the greatest risk  of being denied their right to education. Fifty per cent of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries, where they are at higher risk of being marginalized.

In Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, children with disabilities and Roma children were identified as being particularly disadvantaged in terms of access to education and learning achievement. Partners are working to identify the next steps for improving access and achievement among children who have been excluded. 

Country and regional studies of children out of school use the ‘Five Dimensions of Exclusion’ model which encompasses the pre-primary, primary and lower-secondary school levels and includes both children who are currently out of school and those who are at risk of dropping out. Within the second and third dimensions, the model makes a distinction between children who will never go to school, those who have been to school but dropped out before completion, and those who will enter school late. 

What can our governments do, to change this situation? Please share with us your views and comments.