For many years the global community, including World Vision, worked to significantly increase school attendance by providing buildings, materials, and uniforms. While enrollments dramatically improved, access to school did not produce the desired improvement in learning — many children emerged from primary school unable to read or write.

In many contexts, critical learning outcomes fell as students entered overflowing classrooms without additional teachers or with teachers who had not been adequately trained. Add to this cultural biases against educating girls and children with disabilities that precluded many in those groups from accessing school at all.

As part of the global effort to end extreme poverty by 2030, World Vision is expanding its work to help ensure a safe, quality education for all children, which equips them with the skills and knowledge for a more promising future. God created every child with potential. Let’s empower every last one to achieve the bright future they deserve. 

Why it matters

Imagine how different your life would be if you had never learned to read or understand numbers. For millions of people in the developing world, this is their reality — and it significantly impacts their ability to step out of poverty.

Worldwide, an estimated 58 million elementary-age children are not enrolled in school — 53 percent of them girls. Through age 15, that increases to 120 million.1

In spite of progress over recent decades, many children in school do not achieve functional literacy and numeracy skills due to overcrowded classes, lack of supplies, teachers who need more training, or disruption due to disasters and prolonged crises.

By one estimate, more than 200 million children under 5 in developing countries fail to reach their potential in cognitive development. Most of these children live in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.2


education.jpgAccess to a quality education leads to life-transforming benefits that can help break the cycle of poverty. 

  • One extra year of schooling can raise an individual’s earnings by as much as 10 percent.3 
  • For girls, just one year of secondary school can boost their earning potential by as much as 25 percent.4 
  • Educating girls for six years or more improves prenatal care, postnatal care, and childbirth survival rates.5 
  • A child born to a literate mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past age 5.3 
  • If all women in sub-Saharan Africa completed primary school, maternal mortality would fall by 70 percent.6 
  • If all girls get a secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, child marriage can be cut by two-thirds.6

1UNESCO, 2015 Education For All Global Monitoring Report | 2Developmental potential in the first 5 years for children in developing countries, 20073UNESCO, Education Counts Towards The Millennium Development Goals, 2011 | 4UNICEF priorities for education | 5UNICEF, Goal: Improve maternal health6UNESCO, 2013-14 Education for All Global Monitoring Report

Education is at the heart of sustainable development — equipping children with the foundational knowledge and skills to continue learning as they grow and become productive citizens. Partner with us, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to help empower children to flourish by ensuring they have access to school and opportunities to learn.

Our Approach

World Vision wants girls and boys to read, write, do basic math, and possess essential life skills. Together, these form a sound core education — equipping children for life-long learning and success.

As World Vision works to educate girls and boys for life, we draw on our expertise implementing education programming in nearly 100 countries around the world, in both relief and development settings. Our programming aims to ensure access to quality education opportunities for children and youth, ages 3 to 18, from preschool through the completion of secondary school or vocational training.

World Vision focuses on five key areas of education: 

  • Early childhood development
  • Literacy and basic education
  • Education in emergencies
  • Adolescent life skills and vocational training
  • Safe schools

Life-changing interventions

  • Ensure all school-age girls and boys in World Vision program areas are enrolled in school
  • Train teachers in effective literacy methods
  • Implement best-practice curricula and learning tools to ensure children have functional literacy and numeracy skills appropriate for their grade level
  • Engage parents and volunteers in the classroom and at home
  • Work to keep schools safe and free from all forms of violence
  • Help youth attain the appropriate vocational and life skills they need to be active and productive in their communities

Increasing access to quality education

The standard for a quality basic education has changed from attending school to being able to read.

World Vision is a leader in the global community in improving the quality of education for children. We are continuing to improve infrastructure — building, school materials, and uniforms — when these are appropriate and necessarily to provide a quality education.

But we have broadened the scope of our work to resolve access issues that go beyond infrastructure. Today, we are working to overcome the challenges that keep children who are in school from becoming literate and prepared for life as an adult.

With programs that provide equitable access and demonstrate measurable learning outcomes, we can ensure children have the education they deserve — and a solid start to succeeding in life. Together, we will do more than fill seats. We can fill young minds with the knowledge to help them reach their God-given potential.

Ensuring equitable access to education 

An important aspect of equality in education is ensuring opportunities for vulnerable children — especially girls and children with disabilities.

A girl can expect to spend about eight years in school, but the boy sitting next to her is likely to benefit from another 18 months of instruction.1 An estimated 51 percent of boys with disabilities complete primary school compared to 61 percent without; and 42 percent of girls with disabilities complete primary school compared to 53 percent without.2 For girls, just one year of secondary school can boost their earning potential by as much as 25 percent.3

girls.jpgOppression of one means oppression of all. Research shows that societies with greater gender equality experience faster economic growth, better overall well-being for children, and more representative government institutions. To eradicate poverty, we must address the inequitable systems and beliefs that hold people back from achieving their God-given potential.

World Vision works to empower communities — girls, boys, women, and men — to transform discriminatory practices together.

We address the root causes of educational disparities between girls and boys linked to harmful norms, cultural gender roles, social relations, and power dynamics among men, women, boys, and girls. Integrating an emphasis on gender equality in our education programming leads to increased social and economic benefits such as improved health, a reduction in child marriage and domestic violence, increased economic productivity for women, and overall poverty reduction.

To ensure children with disabilities have equitable access to educational services and activities, World Vision works with parents, teachers and community members. We construct accessible classrooms and facilities. And we train teachers in inclusive teaching methods to integrate students with disabilities in the classroom. 

1UNESCO, World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education, 2012 | 2UNICEF, State of the World’s Children: Disabilities, 2013 | 3UNICEF priorities for education

Minimizing disruption of education

Education is critical for all children, including those affected by conflict, emergencies, and natural disasters.

For the millions of vulnerable children affected by disaster and crisis, the right to education remains an unfulfilled promise. It is estimated that 36 percent of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries and are at a higher risk of being marginalized.1

Historically, education was seen as part of long-term development work rather than a necessary intervention in emergency relief. But with the average conflict lasting 12 years and families remaining in refugee or internally displaced person camps for an average of 17 years, it is clear education must be provided along the continuum from relief to development.

Committed to educating all children, World Vision is working to ensure girls and boys in fragile contexts and conflict settings are able to acquire core reading, writing, and math skills and practical livelihood and life skills. 

1 Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges

An integrated solution

Through decades of experience, World Vision has learned that success in fighting poverty hinges on addressing all of its contributing factors through a single, integrated response. Our investments in education support our efforts in other key areas.

CHILD PROTECTION A safe environment gives children the opportunity to develop in all areas, including education. World Vision’s education projects respond to a child’s need for and right to protection. They provide safe schools, learning opportunities for children in emergencies, and inclusive education opportunities.

ADVOCACY Citizen Voice and Action, World Vision’s model for local advocacy, helps educate children for life by improving the performance of essential services such as schools. It empowers people with knowledge about their rights and then equips them with tools to protect those rights.

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP Faith communities play an important role in ensuring that education programming is holistic in nature. They also can help translate fundamental concepts of equitable access to education for all — especially the most vulnerable and marginalized children — into culturally appropriate language.

Innovative program increases literacy

Literacy Boost is an evidence-based, proven project model that strengthens the development of reading skills in young children. The model incorporates:

  • Reading Assessments: Baseline and end-line reading assessments measure children’s reading levels, evaluate their literacy learning needs, and help schools and ministries of education track student progress.
  • Teacher Training: Teachers are trained to incorporate the five core reading skills into their regularly scheduled curricula to ensure children are learning to read and remain motivated to learn while in the classroom.
  • Community Action: This is the mobilization of parents and communities to support children as they learn to read through fun out-of-school literacy activities and through the creation of locally relevant reading materials.

After just one year in Ethiopia, literacy measures for students involved in Literacy Boost were twice as high as those for peers who were not involved.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
From better health to increased wealth, education is the catalyst of a better future for millions of children, youth, and adults. No country has ever climbed the socioeconomic development ladder without steady investments in education.

Irina Bokova Former Director-General of UNESCO

Irina Bokova


2017 Highlights

children benefited from education projects in Nepal, Zambia and Syria
girls in Zambia received scholarships to cover the costs of their education
children participated in reading camps in Nepal

News and Stories

Our team of experts

Alisa Phillips
Alisa Phillips
Senior Education Advisor
Lisa Galvin
Lisa Galvin
Program Management Officer, Child Protection and Education