Out-of-School Children

No child should ever be denied an education. Not because of where they live. Not because their government is failing to provide adequate and free education. Not because their family is poor. Not because of conflict or displacement. Not because of their gender, ethnicity, or disability. Every child, everywhere, has the right to attend school and get an education. Unfortunately, 262 million children, adolescents, and youth are currently denied this right.



One in five children worldwide are out of school. 1


Around 90% of children with disabilities in the developing world are not in school. 2


Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children.3


25 million primary school age children have never attended school, and probably never will if current trends continue.5

A child who is out of school is more vulnerable to human traffickers and recruitment by militias, and at increased risk of early marriage, teen pregnancy, and child labor. An uneducated adult lacks the ability to lift themselves out of poverty, and their children face barriers at every stage of life: an increased risk of dying in infancy, malnourishment which affects their mental and physical development, and the continued cycle of poverty, dooming another generation.

Without education, nothing changes.

Disadvantage lingers.

Poverty continues.




External environment
Underfunded or inadequate education systems don’t reach the most marginalized children. Girls are less likely to attend school when facilities don’t cater to their basic hygiene needs, dignity, and safety. Children living in rural areas, those living in poverty, and those with disabilities are significantly more likely to be out of school. Conflict and other emergencies displace families and disrupt education systems, currently affecting access to education for over 30 million children.6


Family circumstances
Poverty and the lack of education of parents themselves limit parents’ choices, often forcing them to make difficult decisions. Parents may choose to prioritize roles for some or all of their children in labor (including forced labor), childcare and household duties, or early marriage (especially for girls) over attending school.


Some societies, cultures or religions don’t value every child’s education equally, and subsequently some children face additional barriers to education because of cultural norms or their gender, ethnicity, legal status, or disability.


1 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UIS/FS/2018/ED/48 (accessed 01/03/2019)

2 Global Partip for Education, ‘5 key numbers to know on Universal Children’s Day’ (accessed 01/03/2019)

3 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis

4 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UIS/FS/2018/ED/48 (accessed 01/03/2019)

6 UNICEF, ‘One in four children in conflict zones are out of school’ (accessed (01/03/2019)

Help us get to

1 million signatures

I want world leaders to commit to ensuring that all children,

adolescents and youth have access to free,

equitable and quality primary and secondary education.

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