Education | ActionAid UK

Kate Holt/ActionAid


Education opens up a future full of possibilities, not just for children but also for their families and communities. Around the world, 59 million children are still out of school, and more than half are girls. Twice as many girls as boys will never even start school.

Yet children - especially girls - are desperate to learn, often trekking miles to school in dangerous situations, just to sit under a tree, with no desks or schoolbooks. Teachers are often poorly trained – if at all. 

Across 27 countries, we work with parents, teachers and local authorities to make sure children have essentials like desks, books, food, drinking water and toilets at school. We know that a great education helps women and girls break out of the cycle of poverty. Our Girls’ Clubs create a safe place to talk, learn about rights and develop skills for life.  We push governments to abolish school fees and uniforms to make sure every child can go to school, no matter where they were born. 

The challenges

  • 9
    One in eleven children is out of school, totalling 59 million children in 2013. More than half of them are girls1.
  • 25
    More than one in four children in developing regions who start primary school is likely to drop out2.
  • 100
    Approximately $26 billion is needed every year to pay for the extra schools and teachers needed to educate every child3.

There are many reasons children don’t go to school. For some children, like Sefiyat, it’s because there simply isn’t a school near where they live, and the nearest one is too far or dangerous to get to. Sefiyat’s father has lobbied the local government for a bridge so she can cross the river to get to school, but it hasn't been built yet.

Sefiyat is 10 years old and lives in the Kafuwa community near to Abuja airport

Sefiyat is 10 years old and lives in the Kafuwa community near to Abuja airport. She is not in school and works at home with her family.

Photo: ActionAid

Not being able to afford fees, uniform or enough food to eat are also big barriers. For girls especially, discrimination or violence at school leads to poor performance, absenteeism, dropping out completely and early marriage.

A lack of basic resources, like classrooms, desks and trained teachers makes it difficult for children that are in at school to learn, and means the quality of education is sometimes very poor.

The solutions

To start with we work with communities and our partners on the ground to discover what the problems are that prevent children attending school in their area - especially girls. We then work with them and with national governments to find practical solutions. For example, we’ve helped Parent Teacher Associations persuade their local education authorities to provide essentials such as desks and qualified teachers. 

How you can help change children’s lives for good

We want to see schools where girls and boys are treated equally, where children feel safe and where every child can reach their full potential

Here are three things you can do: 

Other issues we work on

Click below to find out more about the issues we work on and how we’re helping communities to build long-term solutions.