Access to education is the birthright of every child

Yet around the world, there are still approximately 265 million children not in school. 61 million of these children are primary school age.

There are many reasons a child may not have access to an education. While some children are too poor to afford school fees, others are too ill to attend class or too hungry to concentrate when they do. In some instances, children are excluded because of their gender, a disability or cultural factors. At other times, situations of war or child labour stand in the way.

Education is the most basic insurance against poverty and the first step to overcoming it. At any age, education empowers people with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to shape a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Fast facts

  • Of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults, two thirds of these are women. The share of illiterate women has not changed for the past 20 years.

  • One additional year in education increases an individual’s earnings by up to 10%.

  • Children born in rural areas to mothers with no education are more likely to die before reaching age 5 than those born in urban areas or to educated mothers.

  • Despite attending school, children are not always able to achieve. 56% of primary school children in low-income countries will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading.

Education changes lives

Every child has the right to a primary education guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is so much we can do to improve access to education for children around the world, beginning with building classrooms in developing communities so that every child has a school to attend.

One school can improve every aspect of a community’s livelihood. In school, students learn to set goals and solve problems, helping their parents run more successful businesses and farms. They also learn how to safely treat drinking water and stop the spread of diseases, making their communities healthier. Education is proven to reduce the chance of death for mothers and infants during and after pregnancy. Educated mothers are also more likely to send their children to school.

Despite the benefits of girls’ education, girls usually have the hardest time accessing education. Many drop out once they reach puberty because they don’t have clean or private toilets to use at school. In some cultures, girls are forced to leave school at an early age in order to marry. Even the daily chore of walking for hours to collect drinking water limits the time that girls can spend in the classroom, holding them back from reaching their full potential.

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