Education has the power to transform children’s futures. We're helping millions of children go to school and improve their skills for a brighter tomorrow.

The power of education

Education is many children's route out of poverty. It gives them a chance to gain valuable knowledge and skills, and to improve their lives. And it means when they grow up, their children will have a much better chance of surviving and thriving.

But millions of children today never see the inside of a classroom. Others drop out because their classes are overcrowded or teachers are poorly trained.

We're determined to ensure that every child becomes literate, numerate and has access to a broad and fulfilling education both abroad and in the UK.

The scale of the problem

  • In 2010, around 250 million primary school-aged children in the world were either out of school, or in school but failing to learn to read even basic sentences.
  • An estimated 28 million children are in countries affected by emergencies are not in school – 46% of the global out-of-school population.

Changing the story on education in the UK

In the UK, the poorest children do much worse at school than their wealthier classmates.

By the time they reach GCSEs, children from poor families do half as well academically as their better-off classmates. 27% of children from poor families get 5 or more good GCSE passes, compared with 55% of their peers from wealthier families.

That’s why we're working in partnership with Families and Schools Together (FAST), an award-winning project that supports parents in improving their children’s learning and development at home, so they can reach full potential at school.

Find out more about FAST

We've also started Born to Read, giving poorer children in the UK the reading skills they need for a better future. We place volunteers in local primary schools to support children who are struggling with reading.

Find out more about Born to Read

Advancing reading in Rwanda

While school attendance is high in Rwanda, literacy rates are worryingly low. In partnership with Rwanda's government, our Advancing the Right to Read programme aims to transform reading abilities. In 2014, the first full year of the programme, we reached 120,000 children, and by 2017 we plan to reach 200,000.

We're doing this through a three-pronged approach:

  • Helping teachers improve how they teach reading and how they use books in the classroom. 
  • Supporting parents to develop their children's literacy and learning at home.
  • Establishing community-run reading clubs and increasing the availability of reading materials.


Our Rwanda Children's Book Initiative provided training and support to local publishers, resulting in the publishing of more than 40 storybooks, as well as books for toddlers. The programme set up nearly 1,000 schoolbook collections. We're looking to replicate the Children's Book Initiative in other countries, starting with Bhutan.

Education in emergencies

Children always tell us the same thing in emergency situations: what they want most of all is to get back to school. That’s true whether they’re recovering from a natural disaster or growing up in conflict. Children’s right to a decent education is as basic as their right to food and water. 

That’s why we called for education to become a key part of emergency responses, along with shelter, nutrition and medicine. 

We’re a lead agency in coordinating education in emergencies. In 2014, we made sure 440,000 children in conflict-affected and fragile countries enrolled in primary school, including 170,000 who accessed education for the first time.

Bringing education to an Ethiopian refugee camp

We're currently working in partnership with the EU on bringing education to 5,000 children in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia.

Find out about the EU Children of Peace initiative

Getting Syrian children back into education

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 giving these children an alternative by helping them back into education. 

So far we have: 

  • Supported 59 schools in the north of the country. 
  • Repaired classrooms damaged by war.
  • Built water and toilet facilities
  • Provided thousands of schoolbooks, textbooks, sports kits, art supplies and musical instruments.


Find out more

Families and Schools Together (FAST)

EU Children of Peace initiative

Our policy work on education