26 million children are currently not enrolled in school in the Asia-Pacific region.
These children are unable to go to school because they are extremely poor and are forced to work to help support themselves and their families, or because they are girls, or because they belong to a lower caste family or an ethnic minority, or because they live in a remote area or an area often affected by natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes.
UNICEF's new Schools for Asia initiative seeks to provide a quality education for all children in 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region with a special focus on the most marginalized, excluded and vulnerable children.
The new initiative builds on the success of the Schools for Africa program. Launched in 2004, the program has helped secure the right to education of more than 11 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Getting Children to School Is only the First Step
Schools for Asia aims not only to provide children with better and more accessible schools, but also to keep them in school until they finish a full education cycle of pre-primary, primary and secondary education.
Funded entirely from private contributions, UNICEF's Schools for Asia program works closely with communities, local partners, national governments to provide:
- learning materials and teacher training
- safe and clean school facilities
- a well-designed curriculum including life skills education focusing on good health, nutrition and HIV prevention
- children with a rich and empowering education and build an environment where girls and boys are treated equally
Serena Williams and Schools for Asia
Schools for Asia is supported by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and tennis star Serena Williams. Speaking on the importance of a child's right to an education Williams said —"When I was a little girl, my parents taught me the importance of school, and I came to value education. Yet millions of children around the world don’t have that chance."
The right to education is a basic right gives children the knowledge, skills and confidence to shape a better future for themselves and for their communities.