Education has the power to transform children’s futures. But right now, millions are missing out. We’re working in the world’s poorest, most dangerous and hard-to-reach places to bring quality education to every child. And here in the UK, we’re making sure children across the country have the chance to fulfil their potential.
In 2014, our education programmes helped 5.9 million children.
Millions of children never see the inside of a classroom. Others drop out because their classes are overcrowded or their teachers poorly trained.
Children in disadvantaged communities are most at risk of missing out. Many are robbed of the chance to learn because they’re a girl, or come from a poor family, or live in a rural area. And for those whose worlds have been turned upside down by conflict or environmental disaster, education offers stability and hope.
In the UK, too, children’s lives are shaped by their education. The poorest children do less well at school than their wealthier classmates and low literacy is linked to low pay and unemployment.
This has to change. We're determined to ensure that every child, everywhere in the world, gets a high quality education and the chance to write their own futures.
Jean-Rene* is 10 years old and lives in the Central African Republic (CAR). Since conflict broke out in CAR, one in five schools has closed and 40% have been attacked.
When he grows up, Jean-Rene wants to become president so he can bring peace and prosperity to his country.
“I think that if CAR is going to be a great country then all the children here need a good education,” he says. “They need to go to school.”
In partnership with the European Commission, we’re helping create safe, protective spaces in CAR where children like Jean-Rene can continue their education.
How big is the problem?
- 124 million children and young people have either never started school or have dropped out, and the number is rising.
- 1 in 6 secondary school age children are not in school.
- Almost half of children who are not in school are in countries affected by emergencies.
- 19 countries account for more than half of all primary age out-of-school children.
- 23% of children do not reach the expected level of language development by the age of five.
- One in three children living in poverty fall behind with their education.
- 27% of children from poor families get five or more good GCSE passes, compared with 55% of their peers from wealthier families.
The power of education
Around the world
Rwanda: Alongside the Rwandan government, we’re pioneering a new approach to improve the nations’ literacy levels. We’re increasing the number of quality children’s books, setting up reading clubs and supporting parents and teachers.
Emergencies: After a disaster hits, children always tell us the same thing: they want to get back to school. We’re making sure that education is a fundamental part of our emergency responses. In 2014, we helped 440,000 children in conflict-affected and fragile states enrol in primary education, 170,000 of them for the first time.
EU Children of Peace: Funded by the European Union, we’re helping more than 16,000 children in conflict-affected countries go to school – many for the first time.
Syria: In war-torn Syria, children missing out on school are increasingly at risk of being dragged into armed groups, early marriage or child labour. We're helping keep them safe by supporting them to get back into education.
Girls’ education: Learning can be a lifeline for girls. It makes them less vulnerable to early marriage and more able to live independent lives. In Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, we’re giving thousands of girls the support they need to stay in education.
Philippines: Our First Read programme is giving parents in the Philippines the knowledge, skills and resources they need to support their child’s early learning and development.
In the UK
FAST: Families and Schools Together is an award-winning early-intervention programme that brings parents, children, teachers and the community together, to make sure children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school – and in life.
Born to Read: Learning to read unlocks a world of opportunity. It underpins a child’s chances of achieving at school and, beyond that, of finding work. Our reading helpers are supporting 23,000 pupils in schools across the UK.
Read on. Get On: Our national campaign aims to ensure every child in the UK gets the support they need to read well and fulfil their potential.
- Ready to Read: Closing the gap in early language skills so that every child in England can read well
- The Cost of War: Calculating the impact of the collapse of Syria’s education system on Syria’s future
: Learning and equity in education post-2015.
*Name changed to protect identity.
Last updated December 2015.