Policy Position: The Right to Inclusive, Quality Education

21 March 2018

Education should be available and accessible to all girls and boys. Every child must be able to access and complete an inclusive, quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education in order to meet the Global Goal for education by 2030.

Plan International believes that every child and young person has the right to access and complete a quality, inclusive education that covers at least pre-primary, primary and secondary education, in formal or non-formal settings, at the appropriate age, in a safe and supportive learning environment.
To achieve this, the international community, local governments and the private sector must fund quality education, to lift up and support the girls and boys who are least likely to be able to access education. 

This paper lays out Plan International’s official position on the right to inclusive, quality education for all girls and boys.

Overview: Access to Education​​​​​​​

  • Plan International believes that education should be available and accessible to all children on the basis of equal opportunity and non-discrimination. Every child must be able to access and complete an inclusive, quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education in order to meet global commitments. 
  • It is unacceptable that certain groups of children are prevented from being able to access, transition and complete a quality education due to their gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religion or political preference, age or disability. Such barriers are discriminatory and must be tackled through effective policies and adequate funding. Plan International will continue to work to ensure that girls’ education is a priority issue globally, so that inequality in access to education is eradicated. 
  • If Agenda 2030 is not met for the most disadvantaged, the global community will have failed. Learning environments must be fit to accommodate all girls and boys regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional and linguistic abilities. To achieve this, all actors must prioritise supporting the most vulnerable and excluded children who are least likely to be able to access education: These are: girls, children with disabilities, from the poorest backgrounds, living in conflict or emergency situations and from the most vulnerable and excluded groups.

Social norms and access to education for girls

  • Plan International believes that education is the key to unlocking girls’ potential, and one of the most effective interventions for achieving development goals. Every girl has an equal right to access a quality education, in safe school environments that are free from gender bias, challenge discriminatory social norms and promote gender equality. We commit to prioritising the removal of gendered barriers to girls’ access to education, such as poor sanitation and menstrual hygiene management facilities, early pregnancy and childcare, and child marriage. 
  • Girls are the under-valued majority, and can be a powerful force in their homes, communities and societies. It is crucial to challenge the gender inequality and social norms which prohibit girls from accessing and completing a quality education. Negative gender norms should never be justified on traditional, cultural or religious grounds.

Access to education for children with disabilities

  • Plan International believes that mainstream education systems can and should be adapted to meet the needs of all learners, and should offer learning opportunities for every child. Not to do so is to ignore the potential of all children. Children with disabilities have an equal right to access an inclusive, quality education, and a right to the support and adaptations necessary to facilitate their learning.  
  • Child-friendly, inclusive education from early years onwards brings better social, academic, health and economic outcomes for all learners, and at a lower cost than special/segregated education. As such, Plan International believes that inclusive education should be a global priority, without which development goals cannot be met. 

Access to education for children in poverty

  • Plan International believes that no child should be denied the right to access an inclusive, quality education due to poverty, and recognises that poverty exacerbates the likelihood of exclusion for girls or children with disabilities. All actors – governments, intergovernmental organisations and civil society – have a responsibility to support those most in need to access and complete an inclusive, quality education. 
  • Plan International believes that preprimary, primary and secondary education should be fee-and cost-free. Targeted measures should be taken to ensure that children from the poorest backgrounds, and particularly girls, are supported to access their right to education.

Access to Education in Emergencies

  • Plan International believes that no child should be denied their right to an education due to conflict and disaster. This fundamental right must be protected before, during and after an emergency, including for displaced children, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, to ensure educational continuity. 
  • We believe that education in emergencies is crucial to maintaining a sense of normalcy in children’s lives, to provide safe, supportive spaces for children, and for equipping children with the skills and  knowledge they need to negotiate their present and future circumstances.  
  • We believe that education is a core humanitarian need. Education in emergencies interventions must be integrated into all stages of emergency planning and response: through contingency and disaster preparedness planning; early recovery immediately following an emergency; and long-term recovery. 
  • Interventions should ensure that children’s immediate education needs are met, whilst also planning for longer-term provision, eventually reinstating or strengthening national education services.  
  • Plan International recognises that education in emergency responses should target those disproportionally affected by emergencies, or at greater risk, in particular girls and children with disabilities.

Access to non-formal education

  • Plan International recognises that non-formal education is a key inclusive education intervention. Non-formal education programmes can help to ensure that out-of-school children are able to access an education, and in some cases can be prepared for re-entry into the formal education system.
Download options

Statement (english)


308.65 kb

statement (francais)


783.12 kb

statement (espanol)


607.53 kb

position paper (english)


1.25 mb

Position Paper (francais)


783.12 kb

Position Paper (Espanol)


1.74 mb

Education, Education in emergencies, Safeguarding, Technology for development