263 Million Children and Youth are Out of School: How Business Can Help

Photo by Lauren Ciell/A World At School

As the number of displaced persons globally continues to increase to record levels, new figures released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that the number of children and adolescents out of school is growing, now totaling 263 million primary, lower, and upper secondary age youth. The report containing these new figures highlights stagnating progress since 2007, with several regions falling further and further behind. In Southern Asia, more than four out of five girls will never enter the formal education system. More than half of all primary age children out of school, 34 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa.

While these figures are daunting, they are not irreparable. Tremendous efforts are underway to address the issue, but without the private sector in the fight to provide every child with quality education, we will not achieve SDG4 of getting all children into school.

“We need more companies to think about how their business policies and practices can impact education priorities,” says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Investing in education is not only smart for society, it benefits business, too. Investing in education leads to a skilled workforce, one that has critical 21st skills, is healthier, and promotes more stable, conflict-free communities; all of which helps to drive business growth and productivity.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova states: “Our focus must be on inclusion from the earliest age and right through the learning cycle, on policies that address the barriers at every stage, with special attention to girls who still face the greatest disadvantage.”

Acknowledging that we will not realize the SDGs without targeting the most marginalized, GBC-Education is focused on convening the private sector around providing support to children from the earliest ages, focusing on girls and the delivery of education in emergencies.

Business can help address the growing education needs globally in four meaningful ways:

        1. Core Business
          Business can leverage its core assets for education, such as leadership, expertise, volunteers, time, products and services.

        2. Social Investment and Philanthropy
          Through providing financial support to multilateral agencies, communities, and NGOs, business can help to close significant funding gaps that exist in education.


        1. Advocacy and Public Policy Engagement
          By using its voice, business can advocate for the dire need of education for children, while also engaging with public policy to drive forth change.


      1. Partnerships and Collective Action
        Business can make huge strides in helping children access quality education through partnering with government, NGOs, and education organizations to collectively address this issue.

Through its investment, be it financial or in-kind, business can support children’s education around the world and work towards an equitable and safe world in which business can thrive.
To learn more about how your company can get involved, contact [email protected].