Education is one of the most effective and efficient ways to lift people out of poverty and reduce inequality. In low income countries, every $1 invested in an additional year of schooling generates $10 return in adult earning potential and health benefits.1 Despite evidence of the significant impact of investing in education, the sector is repeatedly under-funded and under-resourced.

Since 2002, the share of education in total global Official Development Assistance has fallen from 13% to 10%.2 The finance gap to providing equitable and quality education to all children by 2030 is $39 billion US dollar per year.3

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) began a process of global collaboration to address some of the world’s biggest challenges, including education. During the 15 year period, enrollment in primary education worldwide rose from 83% to 91% in 2015 and the number of out of school primary scold children, 100 million in 2000, was reduced by nearly half.4

Despite impressive improvements, reports from the MDGs found that progress has been disproportionate in certain regions, for girls, and for the poorest people. Of the 263 million children and youth who are out of school, almost half live in Sub-Saharan Africa and two thirds of them live in countries affected by fragility and conflict.5 The gender inequality is also substantial – twice as many girls as boys of primary school age will never go to school and only 29% of countries have achieved gender parity at the upper secondary level.6 Due to inequalities such as these, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were developed to be attained by 2030, with Goal 4 specifically addressing the need for inclusive and quality education for all.

Quick Facts

  • 263 million children and youth are out of school worldwide
    • 61 million children of primary school age (6-11)
    • 60 million of lower secondary school age (12-14)
    • 142 million of upper secondary school age (15-17)
  • ½ of primary schools in developing countries lack adequate water and sanitation increasing absenteeism among adolescent girls7
  • 90% of children living with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school8

Organizations We Work With

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