Education is a basic human right, yet millions of children around the world are denied their right to a quality education. Restricted access to education increases the likelihood of intergenerational poverty and intersects with other adverse socio-economic outcomes. Ensuring equal access to education is of utmost importance for sustainable development.

Approximately 264 million children are out of school – the majority of this figure consists of children from some of the poorest regions in the world. Equal access to quality education is fundamental for a child’s future so much so it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Quality education increases a child’s chance to escape poverty, and bolsters their chances of not falling back into poverty; it is no coincidence that the poorest people in the world are also the least educated.

Equal access to quality education is restricted for numerous reasons ranging from societal norms, to a lack of means. Girls are frequently denied access to education, particularly in many developing countries. Children with disabilities also experience restricted access to quality education resulting from a combination of discrimination, social attitudes, poverty, and lack of resources.

In many crisis-affected countries, children are denied a quality education. Currently, 1 in 4 out-of-school children live in a crisis-affected country. Not only does education promote stability, good governance and peace for the country, it also promotes prosperity for societies and individuals following the crisis. 

SDG 4  cannot be fully realised without all children receiving equal access to quality education. Achieving SDG 4 requires we target the underlying reasons why access to education is restricted, as well providing education to those children who are excluded.

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