After nearly 15 years of progress, the world’s most marginalized children remain excluded from educational opportunities.

Over 59 million primary-school-aged children have been denied their right to an education in 2013. About 24 million children will probably never enter a classroom if current trends are not reversed.

For children between the ages of 12 and 15, 65 million do not attend school.

Children who miss out on school are among the most vulnerable and hard to reach in the world. They come from the poorest households and often have to work to help support their families. Some face discrimination as ethnic minorities. Others live with disabilities. Most often they are girls.

Half of the children who do not attend school live in countries plagued by violence and war.

The Out-of-School Children Initiative was launched in 2010 by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to reach these children.

The goal of the initiative is to significantly and sustainably reduce the number of children who are out of school around the world by:

  1. Developing comprehensive profiles of excluded children using consistent and innova­tive statistical methods.
  2. Linking these profiles to the barriers that lead to exclusion.
  3. Identifying, promoting and implementing sound policies that address exclusion.

The Out-of-School Children Initiative begins the process of reaching the hardest to reach children by uncovering information. It uses diverse data sets including education data, health data, regional surveys and population surveys to identify and count the ‘invisible’ children who do not attend school. The information is analysed to establish a detailed portrait of the children who do not attend school and the barriers that keep them away. The analyses are also used to suggest policies and interventions tailored to the needs of localities, countries and regions.

Throughout the process, the initiative works closely with national and local education officials and civil society leaders. The work is overseen by a national team led by the education ministry.