The Out-of-School Children Initiative aims to access the world’s most marginalized children who remain excluded from educational opportunities
Each year more countries join the global effort to ensure that all children can attend school and learn
Data is the cornerstone of the Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI). It is the basis on which the initiative is able to make recommendations on policy and practices that will allow more children to attend school.
The Out-of-School Children Initiative’s data provides a detailed portrait of some of the most disadvantaged children in the world and why they are not enrolled in school. Researchers focus on children most often excluded from educational opportunities by poverty, location, ethnic origin, gender, conflict and disaster.
The data and analysis is tailored to the specific situation of each area where the initiative works. As a result, the initiative can offer policy and strategy suggestions that go beyond one-size-fits-all remedies and focus on the details that arise in each country or locality.
Where we work
Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
Over 2 million primary and lower secondary school-aged children and 1.6 million pre-primary school-aged children are excluded from educational opportunities in the region. And that is only the children who were counted. Many millions more of the region’s most disadvantaged children are most likely denied the right to an education. For example, there are 5.1 million children with disabilities in the region and their educational status is largely unknown.
East Asia and the Pacific
In the East Asia and the Pacific region, most countries have reached or are close to reaching universal education for primary-school-aged children. In the past decade, a reversal in gender patterns has occurred. Now girls are likely to have more years of schooling than boys. However some children remain excluded in some of the 28 countries that make up the region. Children from some ethnic groups remain out of school and children struggling with poverty are also less likely to be found in classrooms than their wealthier peers.
Eastern and Southern Africa
Throughout the 22 countries that make up the Eastern and Southern Africa region, an average of one in five children is not in school. In countries struggling with conflict, that number rises to two in five.
Most of the children excluded from educational opportunities are girls. The barriers that keep girls from attending school in the region include pervasive gender violence in schools and adherence to traditional social structures.
There are also barriers that affect both girls and boys, poverty being the most pervasive. Many families in the region struggle to pay the extra costs of education that exist even in tuition free schools. Additional barriers such as distance to the nearest school and lack of classrooms and toilets also keep children from exercising their right to an education.
Latin America and the Caribbean
About 3.8 million primary school-aged children and 2.8 million adolescents do not attend school in the 36 countries that make up the region. In some countries, more girls attend schools than boys; in others, the opposite is true.
However, throughout the region, children in rural areas are less likely to attend primary school than children in urban areas. Children who work, children from some ethnic groups and children with disabilities are often excluded from educational opportunities.
Middle East and North Africa
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has made substantial progress in reducing the number of children who do not attend school in the last decade, bringing hope and new opportunity to millions. Nevertheless, there is still unfinished business and in recent years, progress has stalled.
4.9 million primary school-aged children and 3.7 million lower secondary school-aged children are still not in school. And according to recent calculations, over 6 million children are at risk of dropping out. Furthermore, almost 6 million Syrian and Iraqi children are out of school as a result of conflict, which has destroyed large parts of the education system in their countries. This means that one in every four children and young adolescents (almost 23 million) in the region are either out of school or at risk of dropping out.
The eight countries that make up the region have made significant strides in increasing the number of children enrolled in school. Across the region, enrolment in primary education is 90 per cent, up from 75 per cent in 2000.
However barriers to education still exist. The most persistent include; poverty, gender, location and whether a child has to work to help support the family. Children with disabilities and children affected by emergencies including natural disasters are excluded from educational opportunities.
There were an estimated 27.4 million primary and lower secondary school-age out-of-school children in the region in 2015.
West and Central Africa
The 24 countries that make up the West and Central Africa region have some of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the world. Wide gaps exist between the number of boys who go to school and the number of girls, particularly at the secondary level.
Poverty is the main barrier that hinders access to education. It is followed by the long distances many children must travel to attend school. Other barriers include; health problems, disability and a lack of confidence in the quality of education provided in the region’s schools.