Every child has the right to an education which develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full. Primary education must be free for all children.

Right now, however, 61 million children are still being denied their right to go to school. Poor teaching and facilities, or poverty, deny many others the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Free primary school education is not a reality for every child, and fees are a major barrier to school attendance. In 2005, UNICEF and the World Bank launched an initiative to help governments abolish school fees in countries such as Mozambique, Uganda, Togo and Kenya. To help Kenya cope with the resulting surge in pupil numbers UNICEF provided £1.5 million to supply education materials, train teachers, and repair school facilities.

Equal opportunities for girls

Other factors excluding children, especially girls, from education include social attitudes and the pressure to work. UNICEF works with communities and governments to change attitudes and ensure girls are treated fairly.

For too many children who do go to school, it is not the positive experience it should be. UNICEF works to ensure rights-based, quality education through our Child-Friendly School model. These schools are protective environments equipped with trained teachers and adequate resources. We also support school-based water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives, including the provision of separate toilet facilities for boys and girls.

In the UK, UNICEF champions child-centred education based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through our UNICEF UK Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA), schools are supported to embed the Convention in their ethos and curriculum.

Aklima's story

Aklima, aged 12, lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her family is very poor. Aklima doesn’t spend her days in a classroom. Instead, she makes a living by scavenging for bits of plastic and scraps of paper at a rubbish dump. View a photo gallery about Aklima.