Pupils reading book, Tanzania. Photo: Geoff Sayer/Oxfam
Education is fundamental to beating global poverty.


Oxfam believes every single child – that means girls as well as boys – has the right to a free, good-quality primary education. Why? Because school helps children develop the skills they need to make themselves heard in the world and participate in the decisions affecting their lives, and to make positive changes to break free from poverty.

Yet basic education in poor countries is in crisis.

  • 72 million children are out of school (over two-thirds are girls)
  • 771 million adults worldwide are illiterate (64 per cent are women)
  • Two million new teachers are needed today to provide kids with a decent education – and 15 million will be needed by 2015 to achieve education for all

The reasons children miss school vary, but the main one is poverty. School fees, uniforms and books amount to more than many parents can afford.

Communities may not have the money to run a school – or children may simply live too far from one. And girls are losing out the most.

The explanation for girls’ exclusion isn’t simple. Different cultural values often mean boys get priority when it comes to education.
Girls may also be kept home to help with childcare, may be working, or may not have the same freedom of movement as boys.

Whatever the reasons, poverty and inequality only worsen when girls miss school.

Oxfam works with others to get every child into school.

Working in alliance

Oxfam works with teachers and children in schools, but we also work with communities to support them in demanding their right to education. Getting education for all means influencing decision-makers and achieving long-term change.

Oxfam is an active member of the Global Campaign for Education and we work with others from the local to global level to call for more funding for education, and to get more girls into school. We are also calling on world leaders to deliver aid to train two million new teachers for poor countries – a move that would help a whole generation learn the skills they need to beat poverty.

Will you join us?

Act now and sign the Health and Education for All pledge.

Learn more

Oxfam’s Health and Education For All campaign

Global Campaign for Education

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