Good quality and inclusive education for every child by 2030

We work with international institutions, governments, donors, civil society coalitions and children themselves to ensure every last child has access to good-quality learning opportunities.

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.

Our priorities

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 servicesMore 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

Lessons in Literacy: 8 principles to ensure every last child can read

Restoring Hope, Rebuilding Futures: A plan of action for delivering universal education for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda

Fulfilling the promise: Ensuring the post-2015 education agenda delivers on equity and learning

What do children want in crisis: They want an education

Read the latest blogs on education

Our Experts

Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly

Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly

Head of Education Policy and Advocacy

Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly is the founder of First Read which helps families with small children to learn together. In 2010 he was elected by Northern civil society and international non-government organisations to represent them on the newly constituted Global Partnership for Education Board and was re-elected in 2012.

Joseph was on the Technical Reference Group which oversaw the design of Education Cannot Wait: the fund for Education in Emergencies and now represents Northern civil society on Education Cannot Wait’s Executive Committee.

He is currently the 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.

Sebastien Hine

Sebastien Hine

Education Research Adviser

Sebastien's work focuses on education in emergencies - particularly refugee education and protecting education from attack – and SDG 4 implementation.

He also supports the Education Policy and Advocacy team’s other work streams, such as financing and early learning, with research expertise.

His work for Save the Children has included research on barriers to education for refugees in Jordan and research on girls’ education and child marriage in Nigeria.

Before joining Save the Children in 2015 he spent three years as a researcher at the Overseas Development Institute and completed the Educational Planning, Economics and International Development MA at UCL Institute of Education.

Emma Wagner

Emma Wagner

Education Policy and Advocacy Adviser for Education in Emergencies

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. Emma worked in the Government Relations team at Save the Children for a number of years, advocating to UK politicians on global education and early learning in the UK, as well as humanitarian crises.

She is a member of the Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies, the Global Campaign for Education and the civil society group for Education Cannot Wait.

Hollie Warren

Hollie Warren

Senior Education Policy and Advocacy Adviser

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. 

claire leigh

Claire Leigh

Director of International Development Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns

Claire has been Director of Save the Children UK’s International Development Department since 2016, managing the Education, NutritionHealth, and Inclusive Development policy 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.

Tisha Verma

Tisha Verma

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.

Vicky Exley

Vicky Exley

Education Policy and Advocacy Officer

Vicky graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA in Sociology with a particular focus on the Sociology of Education. Professionally, she has spent several years as an English teacher, working particularly with children aged 3-7 years, and has worked as a social researcher.

Since joining Save the Children in 2016, she has worked in the UK Poverty department on their Early Years and Childcare campaigns as a Project Manager. She now supports the Education team across refugee education, early learning, and the Send My Friend to School campaign.

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