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Photo of a girl in a blue jacket in a classroom


Protecting every child’s right to an education and challenging the barriers that keep girls out of school

All children deserve the chance to thrive and a good education is where it all begins. But around the world, millions of children are still missing out on their chance to go to school – and girls are the worst affected. 

Poverty, hunger and disasters all keep children out of the classroom. For girls, increased domestic work, gender-based violence, child marriage, pregnancy and period stigma can also keep them away from school. Now, the pandemic has created the biggest education emergency in living memory.

We’re working to make sure every child can access their right to an education. From building schools and training teachers to setting up temporary learning spaces after a disaster and making sure girls know their rights, we’re supporting children to stay in education and build a brighter future.

Girls living through conflictare more likely to be married by 18 than to finish school

1.54 billion children and young peopleare estimated to have been out of education at the peak of the first lockdown

Children with a disabilityare 10 times less likely to attend school than children without a disability

Photo of a girl in a green and white top


Around the world, an estimated 20 million girls may never return to school after the pandemic.

In Mali, Sitan was 16 when her school was closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus – and her family made arrangements for her to get married. But following an awareness-raising meeting we set up with parents and the village authorities, with the aim of supporting girls to stay in education, Sitan is now back at school.

"I see a bright future for me and all the girls who have the chance to continue their studies until graduation,” Sitan says. “Today I dream of graduating and becoming a civil servant to support my family and community.”

Photo of a girl holding a yellow radio
"Plan International gave us a radio that we listen to every night,” says Pélagie, 11. “They broadcast lessons... this is good for me because it helps me to improve my level.”

Our work around the world

  • In Burkina Faso, we’ve set up radio listening clubs at 20 schools to help children catch up with their studies, after the pandemic and conflict forced them out of education.
  • In Nicaragua, we’re working to reduce the risk of teenage pregnancy and support girls to stay in school, by helping teenagers discuss their sexual and reproductive health and rights. 
  • In Zambia, our school feeding programme is helping to prevent malnutrition and make sure children can concentrate in class.
  • In Indonesia, we’ve been implementing hygiene measures, including installing handwashing stations, to make sure students can return to school safely.
A girl smiles
In Sierra Leone, Theresa has benefitted from the Girls' Education Challenge programme.

Girls’ Education Challenge

Around the world, many girls never get the chance to go to school or to finish their education – and even for girls in school, their education can be precarious.

Through our Girls’ Education Challenge, we’re working with girls in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, so they can build their own futures. And as the pandemic continues, we’ve adapted our projects, from developing radio and TV broadcasts to supporting girls with home learning, after-school study groups and girls’ clubs, to make sure they can keep learning.


Photo of a girl in an orange and blue top standing outside

'I didn’t know if I would ever get to go back to school'

In Burkino Faso, Larissa was 13 when she had to leave her home because of conflict. Together with her family, she spent months living at a site for internally displaced people.

“I didn’t know if I would ever get to go back to school. Then a Plan International facilitator told me that a school had been built for displaced children. That made me smile again,” she says.

Larissa is one of thousands of children in Burkina Faso who are part of our sponsorship programme. With the support she and her family have received, she’s been able to return to her village and go back to school.

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