Globally more than 260 million out-of-school children and 130 million children in school don’t learn even basic literacy. Particular groups are left behind, such as refugees, girls, the poorest children, ethnic minorities and those with disabilities. Over half of all refugee children are out of school.
Early learning: Despite the incontrovertible evidence of the value of early learning for children’s education attainment, 85% of children in low-income countries don’t have access to pre-primary services. More than 200 million children under the age of five in developing countries are estimated to be at risk of failing to reach their full potential.
Education in emergencies: For the vast majority of children affected by emergencies their right to education is an unfulfilled promise. Save the Children plays a leading role in the education in emergencies field as co-lead with UNICEF of the global education cluster and as a founding member of Education Cannot Wait. We have a particular focus on ensuring that every last refugee child has access to education within 30 days of crossing an international border in search of protection.
Implementing the education Sustainable Development Goal: SDG4 sets out the targets that need to be reached to ensure all children are learning from a good-quality and inclusive education by 2030. We advocate for the use of equity-based stepping stone targets to ensure that national plans are designed and implemented to ensure that the most marginalised children are learning.
Financing: Financing for education is woefully low and insufficient if we have any hope of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4, which promises inclusive and good-quality education for all. We are working to call on national and donor governments and multilateral funders to close the education financing gap.
Our key policy asks
1. Early learning: Governments should develop early learning policies and plans, backed with sufficient funding, to ensure children have access to services that support their physical growth, cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, and which enable children to start primary school at the right age, ready to learn. Governments must also ensure that children master literacy and numeracy in the early years of primary school.
2. Education in emergencies: All stakeholders must work together to increase financing and prioritisation of Education in Emergencies, and to improve coordination, policies, and plans which deliver protective, safe, and good-quality learning environments in crisis contexts.
3. Education for refugee children: The international community and host country governments must ensure that all refugee children have access to good-quality learning opportunities by: closing the financing gap; developing and implementing inclusive policies and plans; and improving the quality of educational provision to refugees and host communities.
4. Financing: Governments need to increase the amount they are spending on education. International donors need to increase their aid budgets and spend on education, and need to spend more multilaterally. This includes financing the Global Partnership for Education, the Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies, and supporting the establishment of an International Financing Facility for Education.
5. SDG 4 implementation: Countries should identify the groups of children furthest from having achieved good learning outcomes and embed equity-based stepping stone targets in the education sector SDG implementation plans in order to ensure that those children aren’t left behind.
Our Key reports
Head of Education Policy and Advocacy
Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly is an education specialist with almost two decades experience working internationally to advance children's access to education.
From 2010 to 2017 Joseph served on the board of the Global Partnership for Education including for four years as the chair of the Partnership's Strategy and Policy Committee where he helped create a new funding window for countries in crisis and the Partnership's first gender equality policy and strategy.
Joseph was a member of the design team for Education Cannot Wait the world's first global fund for education in emergencies and now serves on its Executive Committee. He is also the founding Chair of the Global Book Alliance a multi-stakeholder initiative working to transform book development, procurement and distribution to ensure that no child is without books.
He co-chaired, the preparatory committee for the High Level Meeting on Action for Refugee Education at the UN General Assembly in 2018 and directed the Promising Practices in Refugee Education project.
Before joining Save the Children Emma, co-founded Umoja Tanzania, a successful youth education charity in Arusha, Tanzania. She is chair of Umoja UK, a UK registered charity.
She worked for three years as a UK civil servant, before completing an MSc in Development Management at the London School of Economics with a focus on the relationship between conflict and education in Rwanda. She is a member of the Advocacy Working Group of the Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies, and a member of the Global Campaign for Education and the civil society group for Education Cannot Wait.
Previous publications include Unlock Education for Everyone (2019), Time to Act (2018) and Promising Practices in Refugee Education (2017) and Restoring Hope, Rebuilding Futures (2017).
Previously, Hollie worked as an Education Policy Adviser in Save the Children’s UK Poverty department, working on the ‘Read On. Get On.’ campaign focused on early years education and literacy in the UK. Previous publications include Reading England’s Future (2014), Read On. Get On. (2014), The Power of Reading (2015), and Ready to Read (2015).
She has a BA Politics degree from the University of Sussex.
Education Policy and Advocacy Adviser
Tisha leads our work on education financing, as well as working on other projects relating to refugee education and early learning.
Prior to joining Save the Children, Tisha worked as a secondary school English teacher for several years before completing a Masters in International Education Policy. As part of her Masters study, Tisha took part in consultancy work with UNICEF Iraq, and for the Sesame Workshop and IRC partnership on ECD in emergencies.
Rasha develops our statistics for the education advocacy reports and campaigns, and advocates for Refugee Education in the MENA region.
She has a 1st class master’s degree in Economics from the University of Glasgow and more than 5 years’ experience supporting development projects based in Syria and the UK.
In 2015, Rasha was recognised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a future leader from Syria and was awarded Chevening Scholarship.
Claire has been Director of Save the Children UK’s International Development Department since 2016, and she currently manages the Education, and Inclusive Development teams.
Prior to this she worked on policy and research in a variety of international settings, including for the United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF in New York, the Overseas Development Institute in London, and the governments of Rwanda and Liberia.
She has a particular interest in aid effectiveness, fragile states, state-building and governance. Between 2007 and 2009 Claire was a senior policy adviser in the British Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, and in the Policy Planning Staff of the UK Foreign Office.
She holds a first class degree in History from the University of Cambridge and an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford.
He has worked in public health and service commissioning in the UK National Health Service and as an adviser to the UK parliament on HIV and health. While working for ActionAid he led its HIV campaigning and later established the European Advocacy network, Action for Global Health.
He is currently a Steering Committee member of UHC2030 and works with many organisations including the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.
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