Entire groups of vulnerable and marginalized children are excluded from education. Wealth directly affects children’s likelihood of dropping out of school (1). While enrollment gaps between girls and boys are narrowing, gender interacts with poverty and other disadvantages to make girls less likely to stay in school and less likely to learn. Girls face particularly difficult challenges at adolescence and in the transition to secondary education (1). Meanwhile, children with disabilities are less likely to start school and, if they do, are unlikely to transition to secondary school. Their access to school is often limited by poor understanding of their needs and a lack of trained teachers, classroom support, and appropriate learning resources and facilities.
Even children who do complete primary or basic education have their learning outcomes shaped by background characteristics such as poverty, location, gender, ethnicity, and linguistic ability (2, p. 38).
Greater educational equity and inclusion will require increased efforts to collect and analyze data on education for the most excluded segments of the population. Yet, data on education in general remain incomplete; many of the most marginalized groups are invisible in national and global statistics.
Equity-oriented programming must accommodate the multiple factors that affect the starting conditions and educational progress of children and youth and provide targeted support mechanisms to compensate for their effects on learning outcomes (3, p. 15). Since equity is a cross-cutting issue, elements of other strategies relate to this one, demonstrating how to integrate equity considerations into all areas of education:
Globally, 250 million children acquire no literacy skills, but failure at any step of educational progress hits the poorest, most marginalized, and most vulnerable children the hardest. Across low- and middle-income countries, the gap between the chances of children in the poorest and richest quintiles completing primary school averages 32% (1, p. 33). For those children who are in school, 54% of the richest children learn basic skills compared to only 35% of the poorest. On average, low-income countries allocate 46% of their public education resources towards the 10% best-educated students (1, p. 87). In 10 of 25 low- and middle-income countries reporting data, wealth-related inequalities in primary completion rates are getting worse (1, p. 33).
Gender, geography, family, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, together with other factors, compound the effects of poverty. Fewer than one in 20 poor, rural girls in sub-Saharan Africa are on track to complete secondary school, which is seven times fewer than the proportion of non-poor, urban boys who are on track (1, p. 33). Today, more girls are in school around the world than ever before, but an estimated 31 million girls of primary-school age and 32 million girls of lower-secondary school age are still out of school (1, p. 99). One in three girls in the developing world marries before the age of 18, and one in nine marries before the age of 15 (1, p. 96).
According to the World Report on Disability, approximately one billion people around the world are living with a disability, at least 10% of whom are children and 80% of whom live in developing countries. More than half of the 65 million children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries are not in school (12, 13).
Adolescent Girls: Many adolescent girls drop out of or do not learn in school because of child marriage and early pregnancy. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, close to half of girls still marry before the age of 18. Challenges to the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls also affect their education. These include unsafe abortions, early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and gender-based violence apart from child marriage (5, p. 44).
Children with Disabilities: Children with disabilities often require specific support. Disability may lead to a school-participation deficit as high as 50% in some countries, larger than gaps related to gender, rural residence, or socioeconomic status (5, p. 41).
Vulnerable Children: Children in extreme poverty, in remote rural areas or urban slums, orphans have lower educational attainment, with some groups combining multiple sources of disadvantage (5, p. 27). Depending on context, specific groups of disadvantaged children, including the very poor and those from socially disadvantaged ethnic minorities, are more likely to be out of school. Performance on international student assessments greatly varies by socioeconomic status (5, p. 33).
High-Need Schools: Schools in underprivileged areas tend to lack resources and qualified teachers. Their quality of instruction is therefore weaker than offered by schools in more privileged areas; learning outcomes and even enrollment can therefore suffer (5, pp. 20–21).
Inequalities in education persist across the developing world, with entire groups of children either excluded from education or in school and not learning. In low-income countries, just 57% of those who begin primary school reach the last primary grade (3, p. 24). Of children worldwide who never enter school, 57% are in sub-Saharan Africa (6). Conflict and state fragility are major reasons children fail to ever enter school, with two-thirds of countries with the most exclusion affected; more than 40% of children never enter school in countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger (3, p. 23). Inequalities also exist between students living in urban and rural locations, with rural students typically more disadvantaged (3, p. 29).
Economic Equality: More equitable educational opportunities for all could help drive inclusive growth. On average, for each additional year of education among young adults, poverty rates are 9% lower (2).
Education and Literacy: A longitudinal study in Pakistan found a strong, positive relationship between the availability of post-primary schooling and girls’ retention in primary school. In Ethiopia, the introduction of mother-tongue instruction in 1994 increased educational attainment by an estimated half year, improving reading ability by 40% and the probability of reading a newspaper by about 25%.
Social + Health: Educated girls tend to marry later and have fewer and healthier children, with wide-ranging implications for development and growth. They can better protect their families from shocks and are more empowered to participate in and lead their communities. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five, 50% more likely to be immunized, and twice as likely to attend school (1, p. 99). In Ethiopia, educational attainment levels improved alongside a 20% fall in the prevalence of early marriage between 2005 and 2011 (8).
Policy and Politics: Data on disadvantaged and marginalized groups in education raise public awareness of inequality, draw the attention of policymakers, and are essential for determining the extent of discrimination and building an evidence base for more inclusive policies (9). In low- and middle-income countries, participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey has built national capacity to use data by drafting national reports, analyzing results, and assessing a wider range of skills (8).
Peacebuilding: Evidence strongly suggests that increasing secondary-school enrollment and literacy rates decreases the probability of civil war and that increasing expenditures on education tends to pacify internal conflict. Every additional year of schooling reduces an adolescent boy’s risk of becoming involved in conflict by 20% (1, p. 36).
Addressing inequities in education would improve access to education for the estimated 63 million girls and more than 30 million children with disabilities in developing countries and of primary and lower-secondary school age who are out of school (7). Investments in this strategy would also support the 250 million children who are in school but not learning, especially those from marginalized and vulnerable groups.
Each additional year of schooling for girls leads to an average 10% increase in earnings, 4.2% reduction in under-five mortality, and 3.7% reduction in mortality for women and men in low-income countries. When women earn, they invest 90% of their income into their families, compared to 30–40% of men’s earnings. Increasing the proportion of female teachers improves girls’ participation in education in countries where they face a disadvantage in participation (8, p. 174). Regarding students with disabilities and impairments that hinder access to education, many are preventable with access to adequate nutrition and simple medical care (1, p. 94). Early identification of disabilities and intervention can reduce the level of support children with disabilities may require throughout their schooling and ensure they reach their full potential (13, p. 221).
Examples of impact from projects and investments associated with this strategy include the following:
Stakeholder Participation Risk: Inappropriate tailoring of products to address needs across types of equity and local norms, misunderstanding of the objectives and experiences of those affected by educational inequity, or stakeholder mistrust in education service providers can greatly reduce positive impact. Mitigating this risk requires that programs to increase educational inclusion adapt to existing social norms.
External Risk: The lack of a supportive local regulatory framework—or inappropriate government intervention—could impede the development of inclusive education. Investors can mitigate this risk by developing alliances with local government to influence local regulatory frameworks and advise how they may be conducive to scaling products and services for targeted or affected stakeholders. Additionally, investors should consider regulatory risks to scale or operations.
Execution Risk: Some families cannot afford to have all their children attend school due to financial constraints; in such cases, they therefore prioritize attendance based on gender or perceived ability. Teachers managing disproportionately large classes will have limited resources to properly integrate inclusive, learner-centered approaches that recognize individual student differences. Some solutions could benefit an unintended demographic in a given country or context, perhaps benefiting upper-middle classes or private schools, for example, and deepening inequalities. To mitigate this risk, investors should collect data and indicators to verify the demographic served by the investee or fund. Poor access to electricity and other resources in low-income countries can present challenges for some technological solutions. Investors should make sure such solutions fit the geography or demographic to be served.
Unexpected Impact Risk: In some cases, when traditionally marginalized populations—women or disabled people—receive educational services, traditionally more privileged populations may feel threatened or resentful of their educational empowerment. This may embolden privileged populations to take action against educational service delivery, which sometimes escalates to minority- or gender-based violence. To mitigate this risk,
These risks could prevent clients from effectively using provided services and could even negatively impact clients who face opportunity costs from the use of products and services that are do not meet their needs. Cases resulting in harmful social practices, such as gender-based violence, could have considerable negative effects on target stakeholders.
Voice4Girls enables marginalized adolescent girls in India to take charge of their futures, imparting critical knowledge, spoken English, and life skills through activity-based camps, as well as developing problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. Critical knowledge includes basic health, safety, rights, self-awareness, and future planning, while life skills include interpersonal and leadership skills. Voice4Girls received impact investments from Gray Matters Capital, since their solution aligned with Gray Matters’ mission to provide a meaningful life to 100 million women and girls through education and 21st-century skills. Voice4Girls reaches an average of 5,500 girls each year.
Anudip creates new-economy livelihood opportunities for impoverished youth, women, and minorities in rural and semi-urban areas of India, providing IT-based skills training, job placement, and entrepreneur development services. The customized curriculum creates an immersive professional development program. The company received impact investments from Omidyar Network and other investors. Anudip has 100 skills training centers in India, where it has trained more than 85,000 individuals with a 75% job-placement rate, leading to a 300% increase in family income.
Steer, Liesbet, Justin W. van Fleet, Gila Sacks, Nicholas Burnett, Paul Isenman, Elizabeth King, Annababette Wils et al. The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World. New York: International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, 2016.The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. “The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world.” Education Commission, 2016. https://report.educationcommission.org/downloads/
Wils, Annababette, and Gabrielle Bonnet. The Investment Case for Education and Equity. New York: UNICEF, 2015.
Omoeva, Carina. “Education Equity Research Initiative. “Mainstreaming Equity in Education.” Issues paper commissioned by the International Education Funders Group (IEFG), Education Equity Research Initiative, September 2017.
World Health Organization and tThe World Bank. “World Report on Disability.” Geneva: World Health Organization, 2011.
Wodon, Quentin.Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER). “What Matters Most for Equity and Inclusion in Education Systems: A Framework Paper.” Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER)SABER Working Paper Series No. #10, Washington, DC,. World Bank, February 2016.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). “Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education.” Montreal: UIS, 2018.
Filmer, Deon, Halsey Rogers, Samer Al-Samarrai, Magdalena Bendini, Tara Béteille, David Evans, Märt Kivine, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Alexandria Valerio et al. World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018.
UNESCO. Education for All, 2000–2015: Achievements and Challenges. Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2015. Paris: UNESCO, 2015.
UNESCO. Accountability in Education: Meeting Our Commitments. Global Education Monitoring Report, 2017/8. Paris: UNESCO, 2017.
This mapped evidence shows what outcomes and impacts this strategy can have, based on academic and field research.
Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre (REAL), University of Cambridge. 2016. “Targeted, multidimensional approaches to overcome inequalities in secondary education: Case study of Camfed in Tanzania.” Background Paper for the Education Commission
Huisman, J. and Smits, J. 2009. Effects of household and district-level factors on primary school enrollment in 30 developing countries. World Development, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 179-93.
UNICEF. 2015. “Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All.” United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Paris.
United Nations (2011). “Selected examples: Best practices at the international, regional, subregional and national levels for
including persons with disabilities in development efforts.” New York: United Nations.
Nath, Samir R. (2002). “The transition from non-formal to formal education: The case of BRAC, Bangladesh”. International Review of Education, 48(6): 517-524.
Overseas Development Institute (ODI). 2016. “Leaving no one behind: A critical path for the first 1,000 days of the SDGs.” ODI: London
Tirussew,T. and Teklemariam,A. (2007) A Study on Integrating Disability into the FTI Process and National Education Plan in Ethiopia, Case study undertaken for World Vision UK, Milton Keynes:World Vision UK
Plan International. 2012. Because I am a Girl: State of the World’s Girls 2012 – Learning for Life. Woking, UK, Plan International.
Unterhalter, E., North, A., Arnot, M., Lloyd, C. B., Molestane, L., Murphy-Graham, E., Parkes, J. and Saito, M. 2014. Interventions to Enhance Girls’ Education and Gender Equality: Education Rigorous Literature Review. London, UK Department for International Development.
Filmer, D. and Schady, N. 2008. Getting girls into school: evidence from a scholarship program in Cambodia. Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp. 581-617
Independent Evaluation Group, 2011a. Do Conditional Cash Transfers Lead to Medium Impacts? Evidence from a Female School Stipend Program in Pakistan. Washington, DC, World Bank
Mekonnen, B. and Aspen, H. 2009. Early marriage and the campaign against it in Ethiopia. Ege, S., Aspen, H., Teferra, B. and Bekele, S. (eds), Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies Vol. 3. Trondheim, Norway, Department of Social Anthropology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Catino, J., Colom, A. and Ruiz, M. J. 2013. Equipping Mayan Girls to Improve their Lives New York, Population Council. (Transitions to Adulthood Brief, 5.)
Lehman, D. 2003. Bringing the School to the Children : Shortening the Path to EFA. Washington, DC, World Bank
Lloyd, C. B. and Young, J. 2009. New Lessons: the Power of Educating Adolescent Girls – A Girls Count report on Adolescent Girls. New York, Population Council
Achyut, P., Bhatla, N., Singh, A. K., Verma, R. K., Khandekar, S., Pallav, P., Kamble, N., Jadhav, S., Wagh, V., Sonavane, R., Gaikward, R., Maitra, S., Kamble, S. and Nikalje, D. 2011. Building Support for Gender Equality Among Young Adolescents in School: Findings from Mumbai, India. New Delhi, International Center for Research on Women
Bloem, S. 2013. PISA in Low and Middle Income Countries. Paris, OECD. (OECD Education Working Paper, 93.)
Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre (REAL), University of Cambridge. 2016. “Raising Domestic Resources for Equitable Education.” Background Paper for the Education Commission
Each resource is assigned a rating of rigor according to the NESTA Standards of Evidence.
Percentage of school students passing standardized tests set by a regional governance body during the reporting period.
= (Number of enrolled students who passed standardized test) / (Number of enrolled students who took standardized test)
Organizations should footnote the description of the standardized test, the threshold for passing, how many tests were taken, and other relevant details.
If more than one test is taken, organizations should report on the average of the pass rates.
To understand if the strategy is successfully reaching the desired outcome “improved learning outcomes” for targeted marginalized students/learners.
Number of female students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time female students.
The data would have to be gathered via school reportings if private school and via government reports if public school.
To understand how many girls are benefiting from the solution. As one of the main disadvantaged target groups of the strategy, tracking women and girls is central.
Number of students with disabilities enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used and a break down of full-time and part-time students with disabilities.
To understand how many students with disabilities are benefiting from the solution. As one of the main disadvantaged target groups of the strategy, tracking students with disabilities is central.
Number of teachers as of the end of the reporting period who have obtained training or have qualifications that meet or exceed minimum requirements of the local area.
Organizations should footnote the minimum level of qualifications required in local area.
Organizations are encouraged to report this metric in conjunction with Teachers Employed (OI5896).
To understand how many teachers and other school professionals have qualifications or are being prepared/trained to properly work with students with special educational needs, such as students with disabilities.
Number of individuals who received training offered by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote the type and extent of the training provided as well as who the training was provided to. See usage guidance for further information.
This metric is intended to capture the number of individuals that received training services (of any type) provided by the organization. Training may or may not be restricted to clients of the organization. This metric may be applicable for organizations operating in the microfinance, agriculture, or other sectors that provide training to clients and other community members. Examples of training types, to footnote, could include: enterprises/business development, women’s empowerment, educational services, etc. Training may be fee-based or provided for free. Training of an organization’s own employees is not included in this metric.
To understand the scale of teachers and other school professionals being served by training solutions (i.e.: training that focus on creating awareness of gender dynamics; building capacity for teachers to work with students with disabilities, etc.).
Number of students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time students.
Learners should be counted if they are enrolled in primary or secondary school or the equivalent education. When calculating this indicator, each learner should be counted only once in data for the year being reported. In other words, if a learner benefits from two overlapping programs and each meets the criteria outlined here, the learner should be counted only once.
To understand the overall scale of students benefitting from education solution.
Number of students who belong to minority or previously excluded groups and are enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used, their categorization of minority/previously excluded groups, and a break down of full-time and part-time students. See usage guidance for further information.
The data would have to be gathered via school reportings if private school and via government reports if public school.
To understand the number of minorities being served by solution.
Number of poor students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time students and details on the assessment tools used to identify the poverty level of students. See usage guidance for further information.
The data would have to be gathered via school reportings if private school and via government reports if public school.
To understand number of poor students being served by solution. As mentioned in this strategy, inclusion efforts should consider students with backgrounds such as poverty, therefore it is central to track if solution is serving students with poor background.
Number of very poor students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time students and details on the assessment tools used to identify low income students. See usage guidance for further information.
To understand number of very poor students being served by solution. As mentioned in this strategy, inclusion efforts should consider students with backgrounds such as poverty, therefore it is central to track if solution is serving students with very poor background.
Number of low income students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used and a break down of full-time and part-time students residing in rural areas.
To understand number of low income students being served by solution. As mentioned in this strategy, inclusion efforts should consider students with backgrounds such as poverty, therefore it is central to track if solution is serving students with low income background.
Number of students residing in rural areas enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used and a break down of full-time and part-time students residing in urban areas.
To understand the number of students that live in rural areas being served by solution.
Value of new educational instructional materials provided to students by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used as well as details on the type of education instruction materials provided.
Examples of educational instructional materials, to footnote, include textbooks, notebooks, writing implements, etc.
To understand the value of new materials provided to students/learners with special needs.