Overview: Inclusive Quality Education

1 May 2020

Our Area of Global Distinctiveness (AoGD) overview describes the results that we want to achieve for children and particularly for girls, the most important strategies we want to focus on as an organisation and the most important areas of work where we want to invest to build coherent, gender-transformative programming.

Inclusive quality education means that all children, regardless of physical, intellectual, social, emotional or linguistic abilities, learn and participate equally and effectively, in safety and free from gender bias.

However, a range of often intersecting factors including gender, poverty, location, disability, language and ethnicity create barriers that prevent millions of children from accessing and completing quality education.

  • 263 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school in 2016 – nearly one-fifth of the young global population.
  • 15 million primary-age girls will never get the chance to learn to read or write compared to 10 million boys. 
  • One-third of all out-of-school primary-age children have a disability. Girls from poor and vulnerable groups, and those affected by conflict, face the biggest barriers to education.

Girls are still less likely than boys to enrol in school, stay in school or have their educational needs met.  

Millions of children are in school but are not learning properly. Their lack of achievement is due to many factors – including poor teaching, often in a language that is not their mother tongue, limited resources, and being subjected to violence or abuse.

More than 617 million children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary age do not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.

Why does all this matter?

Education is a fundamental human right. It is also a vital tool for achieving the Agenda 2030 development goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4 emphasises the need for inclusive quality education.

This is because quality education gives young people the skills, knowledge, competences and values to help them to break cycles of poverty, discrimination, social and gender inequality. They are empowered to make positive changes, overturn oppressive gender norms and promote equality.

This benefits individuals, families and communities. Health, nutrition and life expectancy improve. Educated girls tend to delay marriage, have fewer but healthier children and contribute more financially. Quality education includes comprehensive sexuality education, informs young people about citizenship and climate change, and helps to safeguard them in conflict and disaster situations. 

Our goal is to ensure vulnerable and excluded children – particularly girls – access and complete inclusive quality education from pre-primary to secondary level. This encompasses formal, non-formal and informal provision, in development and humanitarian settings, including displaced and crisis-affected communities.

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