In recent years, many countries in Asia have seen economic growth and rapid urbanization. Despite this, however, income inequality is a growing concern, with widening disparities and social inequity adversely affecting the most vulnerable and hard to reach populations, particularly children. In Asia, UNICEF works closely with communities, local partners, and national governments to provide a quality education for all children. The organization’s programmes provide learning materials and teacher training; safe and clean school facilities; a holistic curriculum that incorporates life-skills education; and an environment where girls and boys are treated equally.
Although Bangladesh continued to achieve significant progress in 2014 by reducing poverty levels and curbing population growth, poverty still remains a challenge – with 80.3 per cent of the country’s population living on less than $2 per day. More than one third of those aged 6–10 in urban slums are out of school.
Primary education for every boy and girl in Bangladesh is a priority for UNICEF.
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With a unique, overarching development philosophy of Gross National Happiness and political commitment, Bhutan is close to achieve universal education for all. However, urban poverty is emerging as a new challenge, with increasing disparity leaving pockets of excluded and unreached poor and under-educated children.
UNICEF’s education interventions cover all districts in Bhutan and are aimed at increasing equitable access to quality early childhood care, development, and education for children and young people, particularly the most marginalized and those with special education needs.
China, home to 274 million children, has the second largest population of children in the world. Working closely with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF helps address key issues to inform national policy, as well as strategies to enable execution of these policies to scale.
Since 2012, UNICEF has been focusing its efforts on early childhood development, child-friendly schools, adolescent development, and emergency preparedness.
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Home to over a billion people, India is home to the largest national population of children in the world, including 20 per cent of the global population under the age of four.With 426 million children, the importance of inclusive growth takes on a special significance in India. With a young population, the labour force in India is expected to increase by 32 per cent over the next 20 years.
In India, UNICEF works to support the universalization of pre-primary, elementary, and secondary education and to improve the quality of education by 2017. Education interventions are focused on influencing policy, leveraging public resources for national flagship programmes, policy advocacy, and contributing to the evidence base to advance the interlinked issues of improving quality and equity in education.
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Laos is a landlocked country with a population estimated at 6.5 million, nearly 73 per cent living in rural areas.Linguistic and cultural diversity is a fundamental characteristic of the country, with 49 officially-recognised ethnic groups. Ethnic minority communities are most acutely affected by changes to natural resources, new commerce and agriculture, and the country’s rapid cultural transformations.
The UNICEF works to ensure that all children are able to complete a full course of primary schooling, and to increase the number of girls attending pre-primary and primary school.The programme also provides support to the most disadvantaged children in the country, such as children with disabilities
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Mongolia is a landlocked country nestled between Russia and China with a population of 3 million. The low population density combined with the seasonal movement of herder families poses a challenge for young children from nomad families to access quality education.
UNICEF focuses mainly on expanding access to and improving the quality and management of early childhood, primary, and secondary education for the most disadvantaged groups with cost effective, integrated services that are designed to reinforce policy initiatives at the national level, and convincing the government to bring them up to scale.
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Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with one quarter of its 27.5 million people living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. In April 2015, a
8 8 powerful earthquake killed thousands of people in the country and flattened entire villages across many districts in the country. The education system was also profoundly affected with hundreds of schools destroyed by the disaster.
UNICEF supported the emergency and reconstruction efforts to help provide access to education immediately after the emergency. In addition, the UNICEF also supports the Nepal Government to ensure country-wide access to and quality of primary and secondary education, early learning opportunities for small children and non-formal education for those that are not part of the official schooling system.
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Papua New Guinea
Children in Papua New Guinea live in a country of great diversity and immense geographical challenges. While there has been significant progress in terms of access and retention at all levels of the education system, over 600,000 school-aged children are still out of school and considerabledifferences remain between provinces.
UNICEF programmes are anchored in the principle of equity, addressing the disproportional access to basic social services and to the benefits of education.
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The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands rich in natural resources, with a population of over 92 million, including some 18.5 children below the age of 11. The country is also prone to natural disasters, such as the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in October the Typhoon Haiyan, which in the same year affected over 5.9 million children.
UNICEF helps to improve the capacity of national and local public partners to provide holistic and inclusive education for children aged 3–11 years in 36 most vulnerable districts.
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Timor-Leste has the second youngest population in the world, with nearly half of its estimated 1.1 million population under the age of 18. Yet, access to pre-school education is extremely limited, with only one child in ten aged 3–5 are enrolled. Among the other barriers to a quality education are insufficient quality teaching, non-availability of bilingual textbooks, distances to school, and environmental issues, including lack of water and sanitation facilities.
UNICEF works at both the policy level and service delivery level in order to help build a system and national capacity that safeguards the development of quality education for all Timorese children.
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In Vietnam, rapid social change and persistent and emerging disparities have resulted from an accelerated economic growth. About 30 million children in Viet Nam are not equally benefitting from this new affluence.
Quality education for ethnic minority children and children with disabilities, especially in lower secondary education, are major issues that require a strong institutional and policy response.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Vietnam
Papua New Guinea