5 key numbers to know on Universal Children’s Day
Universal Children’s Day presents an opportunity to advocate, promote, and celebrate children's rights. On this important day, we review 5 key figures about the state of education for children around the world.
November 20, 2017 by GPE Secretariat
5 minutes read
Children draw at School #4 in Tajikistan. Credit: GPE/ Carine Durand
Children draw at School #4 in Tajikistan.
Credit: GPE/ Carine Durand

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and 30 years later, on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That’s why November 20 was chosen to celebrate Universal Children’s Day. Article 28 of the Convention recognizes “the right of the child to education on the basis of equal opportunity.”

On this important day, let’s review 5 key numbers about the state of education for children around the world.

264 million

That’s the number of children and youth around the world who do not go to school. They don’t get to put on a uniform and walk or take a bus to school; they don’t get to sit in a classroom, listen to a teacher, read a textbook and take notes. They don’t have the opportunity to learn to read, write and do math.

If they were a country, they’d be as big as the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany combined. Or as big as the populations of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Global Partnership for Education works to make sure ALL children in developing countries can go to school and learn.


It is estimated that there are 1 billion people around the world with disabilities, and at least 1 in 10 are children. The vast majority (90%) of children with disabilities in the developing world do not go to school. They face multiple barriers, from stigma and ignorance, to lack of infrastructure, materials, or trained teachers. But when education becomes more inclusive, everyone benefits because everyone can contribute their potential to society.

The Global Partnership for Education works with partners to make education inclusive of ALL children, in particular the most marginalized and those with disabilities.

150 million

Too many children around the world don’t even have a chance to be children. Worldwide, it is estimated that 150 million children are engaged in child labor. Most often because their families live in poverty, children are asked to contribute to their livelihoods. They do household chores like cleaning, cooking and fetching water, selling goods or working in factories. Child labor can be a couple of hours a day to a full day. This means that these children don’t have time to go to school, and if they do, they are often too tired to learn.


It costs on average US$1.25 a day per child in developing countries (low- and lower-middle income) to provide a full cycle of pre-primary through secondary education (13 years). The largest share of this cost, 88%, is borne by developing countries themselves. The international community must fill the gap of just 15 cents a day per child to ensure every child can go to school by 2030.

870 million

The GPE Financing Conference next February will be the opportunity for partners to commit more funding for education: donors are asked to contribute US$3.1 billion to the GPE fund; developing countries to increase their budget share to education to 20%; and private sector and foundations to increase their targeted contributions to education. A successful replenishment would help GPE become a US$2 billion a year organization by 2020 and support up to 89 countries, home to 870 million children and 78% of the world’s out-of-school population.

For the sources of these data points, and if you want to know more important statistics on education, visit our education data page

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