A good education empowers individuals, contributes to greater economic growth, produces healthier populations, and builds more stable, equitable societies. Education is widely recognized as one of the most effective development intervention.

In fact, a child born to an educated mother is more than twice as likely to survive to the age of five. As women’s education levels increase, immunization rates go up, preventable child deaths go down, and nutrition improves.

Yet, more than 58 million primary school-aged children around the world still do not have access to basic education and 123 million youth (aged 15-24) lack reading and writing skills. Globally, 65 million girls do not attend primary school or secondary school.1

At the UN Summit in 2000, world leaders set the goal of achieving universal access to primary education by 2015, one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In September 2012, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon reiterated this global promise when he launched the Education First Initiative with three priorities: putting every child in school, improving the quality of learning, and fostering global citizenship.

Quick Facts

  • 58 million children of primary school age are still out of school.1
  • 123 million youth (aged 15 to 24) lack basic reading and writing skills.1
  • 65 million girls do not attend primary or secondary school.2
  • Every 10% increase in girls’ secondary school enrollment in low-income countries saves approximately 350,000 children’s lives and reduce maternal mortality by 15,000 every year.

Organizations We Work With

  1. UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2012). Education – Out of School Children. Paris, France.
  2. Because I am a Girl, Plan Canada (2013)
Sign in
Sign in to access activist publications and our discussion forums.