Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: South Asia Regional Study

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Author/Publisher: UNICEF, UNESCO Institute for Statistics
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South Asia has seen significant achievements in strengthening education systems and getting more children to school. Enrolment rates in primary education have reached 90 per cent in 2011 for the region, up from 75 per cent in 2000. More importantly, this growth has been accompanied by a sizeable progress in enrolling girls, with net enrolment rates for the region indicating 88 per cent of the total primary school going age girls are now in school, up from 68 per cent in 2000 (UIS Database accessed January 2014). National laws and policies have been introduced in line with the CRC and other international frameworks. Countries have committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) goals. Across the region, strategies for a more equitable development, including in education, have been developed. Education has also been identified as a major priority area in the Post 2015 development agenda discussions.

Yet, the unfortunate reality is that millions of children in South Asia are still out of school. This study will contribute to efforts of offering these children education opportunities by making them visible and providing evidence-based recommendations on how to reach out to this excluded group across the region, and in particular the four participating countries: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

This South Asia study has been prepared as part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School-Children (OOSCI) initiated by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2010. The initiative’s goal is to make a significant and sustained reduction in the number of children out of school around the world by:
- Developing comprehensive profiles of excluded children based on standardized and innovative statistical methods;
- Linking quantitative data with the socio-cultural barriers and bottlenecks that lead to exclusion;
- Identifying sound policies which address exclusion from education with a multi-sectorial perspective.

This South Asia study is primarily based on findings from four OOSCI country studies on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These four countries have strong national legislation and expressed commitment to the international frameworks to provide all children with basic education. Impressive achievements in improving basic school enrolment rates have been seen in these countries over the past decade. However, staggering numbers of children remain out of school, particularly in the three most populous countries: Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is clear that without further action, including some new and innovative strategies, inequity in school participation and ultimately opportunities in life will persist.


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