Around the world, children want to go to school but sadly, 124 million children and adolescents in developing countries face barriers to getting a quality education. For some it may be one obstacle, for others, there are many hurdles to jump to be able to go to school.
What are the barriers?
Barrier 1: Growing up in a poor family
Poverty is the most pervasive factor preventing children from going to school. Poor families are less able to afford school fees, uniforms and textbooks for all of their children. A child in school cannot work to help support the family, and they have less time to help with household chores like fetching water. Data show that children from the poorest 20% of households are four times as likely not to be in school as those from the wealthiest 20% of households. They are also much less likely to complete primary school. This barrier to education reinforces the cycle of poverty so that the poor stay poor.
Barrier 2: Being a Girl
Globally, we are closer than ever to gender equality in school enrolment. Of the 124 million children and adolescents out of school, 63 million are girls, just over half. But there is still a ways to go and the global average belies pockets of discrepancies within communities and disadvantaged groups. Digging deeper, we see that entrenched gender norms persist: for children who are already out of school, two times as many girls as boys will never even have a chance to try. As the chart below shows, this inequality is most pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia and the Arab states.
Barrier 3: Living in a rural area
A child growing up in a rural community is also at a disadvantage in educational opportunities and the gap between rural and urban children can be very large, as you can see in the UNESCO table below.
source: WIDE database, UNESCO
Barrier 4: Living in a war zone
This vulnerable cohort of out-of-school children has increased in recent years, largely due to the growth in the number and intensity of conflicts around the world. In fact, approximately half of all out-of-school children live in conflict zones. The war in Syria alone has decimated the chances of a whole generation of children.
Barrier 5: Having a handicap
Research by UNESCO shows that in middle income countries, people of working age with disabilities were about one-third less likely to have completed primary school. Approximately 93 million children live with a disability, disproportionately in poor countries.
Barrier 6: Being from a minority ethnic, linguistic, religious group
A child growing up speaking a minority language is less likely to learn well when school is not conducted in her mother tongue. This leads to higher drop out rates and a situation where minorities become marginalized and excluded.
Finally, many children face overlapping barriers to education: a poor, rural girl in sub-Saharan Africa is among the least likely in the world to be able to go to primary school and to complete her studies.
We believe that all children have a right to go to school regardless of gender, wealth or place of birth.
Your support for the 60 million girls Foundation can help lower these barriers to education. Every year we fund an innovative educational project to help girls go to school. This year, we are working with CAUSE Canada in Sierra Leone to give more children the opportunity to get a quality education.