Out-of-school Children

Children who don't go to school are often the most vulnerable and marginalized. They are a high priority for GPE.

Despite dramatic improvements over the past years, progress towards achieving education for all has stagnated. In total, 263 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school for the school year ending in 2016.

The progress has not been equitable: the children who face the most severe barriers to education, such as those associated with gender, poverty, displacement, nomadism, disability, and/or ethnicity, are still left behind.

A disproportionate number of out-of-school children live in countries that are characterized by instability and conflict and/or extreme poverty. Many of the countries with the highest numbers of out-of-school children still do not receive adequate external financing to meet their needs.

GPE is dedicated to strengthening national education systems in order to substantially increase the number of children who are in school and learning, and overcome the barriers that prevent them from attending, staying, and completing school.

GPE helps the countries with the greatest needs, in particular countries with the highest number of out-of-school children

Our results

  • 14 million fewer primary school age children were out of school in 2015 across all GPE partner developing countries compared to 2002

  • 33% of adolescents of lower secondary school age were out of school in GPE partner countries in 2015 compared to 40% in 2002

  • 19% of children of primary school age were out of school in partner countries in 2015 compared to 33% in 2002


GPE in action

In Liberia, Yemah went to kindergarten but did not go on to first grade. His father lost his work in construction and no longer had the money to send him.

Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

Within the GPE results framework, two indicators measure the impact GPE aims to achieve in reducing the number of out-of-school children.

Under the Global and Regional Activities program, our partners are:

  • Developing improved instruments that accurately identify the number of out-of-school children and help understand the characteristics and reasons why they remain excluded from school.
  • Building the capacity of developing country partners to conduct assessments of how existing policies and strategies address out-of-school children, how effective these are, and recommend concrete actions to improve education policies, strategies and plans.
  • Contributing to policy dialogue with local education groups to support decisions on the content of GPE grant applications, calling attention to gender, equity and inclusion issues, and promoting the use of GPE funds to ensure that more children get access to a quality education.


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