One in five adolescents is not in school globally


Sixty-three million adolescents around the world are being denied their right to an education. A joint report by two United Nations agencies has found that one in five children between the ages of 12 and 15 is not in school, compared to one in 10 children

The study by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and children’s agency UNICEF was released at the Education World Forum in London earlier this month.

It showed that not only are adolescents twice as likely to be out of school as their younger counterparts, but as children get older the risk that they will never start school or will drop-out increases.

Despite the international community’s promise to achieve education for all by 2015, a total of 121 million children and adolescents have never attended school or have dropped out. Children living in conflict, working as child labourers or facing discrimination based on ethnicity, gender and disability are the most affected.

“Business as usual strategies based on more teachers, more classrooms and more textbooks are not enough to reach the most disadvantaged children,” said UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova.

“We need targeted interventions to reach the families displaced by conflict, the girls forced to stay home, the children with disabilities and the millions obliged to work.

“This report serves as a wake-up call to mobilise the resources needed to guarantee basic education for every child, once and for all.”

The report, entitled Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All, showed that the highest out-of-school rates are in Eritrea and Liberia, where 66 per cent and 59 per cent of children respectively do not go to primary school.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, 58 per cent of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 are out of school, along with 49 per cent of boys.

Poverty is clearly the greatest barrier to education, said the report. In Nigeria two-thirds of children in the poorest households do not go to school and nearly 90 per cent of them will probably never enrol. 

UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake added: “To realise the promise of universal education for every child, we need a global commitment to invest in three areas: getting more children into primary school, helping more children, especially girls, stay in school through the secondary level, and improving the quality of learning they receive throughout their schooling.”

You can download Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All at



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