What we do
Find out how UNICEF is driving change in education for children and young people in East Asia and Pacific and South Asia, with the private sector.
UNICEF’s work in the field of education is motivated by two incontestable truths. First, it is every child’s fundamental right to attend school and to learn. UNICEF is dedicated to ensuring all children can exercise this right to a quality education and to have the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to survive and thrive. Second, education is one of the best means of bringing about long-term positive change, both socially and economically. UNICEF supports children’s education around the world because of its potential to reduce poverty and to build healthy, resilient and peaceful societies.
Education transforms lives and breaks the cycle of poverty that traps so many children. UNICEF is committed to making sure every child has access to quality education, no matter who or where they are.
We work with governments and partners throughout the regions to help make sure education reaches the most vulnerable, that systems work effectively for children, and that no child is left behind.
UNICEF is also committed to working with regional governments to increase financing of education programmes, to reach children who are struggling to survive, and education has become a lesser priority. UNICEF uses an evidence-based approach to advocate and lead the development of policies, analyse key drivers of change, and identify key knowledge gaps.
UNICEF builds regional partnerships, UN agencies, development partners, think tanks, civil society organizations, the media, the private sector and other key stakeholders – to encourage political commitment and increase the accountability of governments to work on programmes that ensure every child is learning. UNICEF facilitates cooperation across the region to advocate, train, and share knowledge on how best to improve education systems.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 mandates that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to ensure universal access to quality higher education by eliminating gender and wealth disparities and providing equal access to affordable vocational training. To help achieve these goals, UNICEF will continue focusing on inequity in terms of access to education and learning.
East Asia and Pacific
The East Asia and Pacific region is home to one-third of the world’s population and more than one-quarter of the world’s children – around 580 million children in total. The region possesses a stunning variety in geography, culture and political and economic systems, and significant diversity can be seen within countries in terms of wealth, ethnicity and language. UNICEF believes that every child has the right to an education regardless of who they are, where they live or how much money their family has. Some countries in this region have increased enrollment, retention and completion rates and decreased gender gaps. However, many children, both between and within countries, are still out of school or do not have access to quality education because of their socioeconomic status, geographical location, disability, ethnicity, language and gender persist.
Education is vital for development and the well-being of individuals and societies as a whole. In South Asia, 11.3 million children at the primary level and 20.6 million children at the lower secondary level are out-of-school. Millions of children complete primary education without mastering the foundational skills of basic numeracy and literacy. Classrooms in South Asia are teacher-centered and rote-based, and children are subjected to corporal punishment and discrimination. Girls face incredible hurdles to pursue their education in the region. South Asia is vulnerable to natural hazards, political instability, rising extremism and civil strife, which can adversely affect children’s learning environment. Natural and man-made crises increase the difficulty in delivering quality education services to children.
Focus regions and countries
The UNICEF Schools for Asia initiative operates in 11 countries. Schools for Asia aims to give children the best start in life in these countries by creating safe and supportive learning environments in which girls and boys are treated equally.