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Improving access to education

The Quality Learning for Children program was initiated in 2000 to provide children and adolescents living in extreme poverty with the right to access free education.
The Quality Learning for Children program was initiated in 2000 to provide children and adolescents living in extreme poverty with the right to access free education.

Many children do not go to school, simply because there is no school nearby, there are not enough classrooms or their parents cannot afford to pay school fees. Thirty percent of out-of-school children live in rural areas compared to eighteen percent in urban settings. (Source: UNICEF & UNESCO, Children Out Of School: Measuring Exclusion From Primary Education, Montreal, Quebec, 2005.)

Plan has helped to increase the access to education by building schools, helping to renovate those that have been damaged and provide benches for children to sit on. All of these investments have paid off with more girls and boys going to school and fewer dropping out.

Among Plan’s many projects are several initiatives in West Africa supported by funding from the US government. The IMAGINE (Improve the Education of Girls in Niger) project in Niger and Improving Access to Education in Guinea-Bissau are both focused on increasing access to education, especially for girls.

As part of these programs, Plan has built new classrooms and schools, gender sensitive toilets with separate facilities for boys and girls, teachers' houses, and water points close to the school. The water points help to ensure access to safe drinking water and also to ensure good hygiene practices in the schools.

Plan is especially concerned that the most vulnerable children have access to education. Our various programs have provided assistance for disabled children, supported the inclusion of children affected by HIV and AIDS in the education system and improved access to education for children from indigenous groups. In Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, the Breaking Barriers project has seen a huge success in helping to increase access to education by providing home-based care to children, their families and caregivers, trainings for teachers, psychosocial support for orphans and vulnerable children and addressing HIV and AIDS related stigma.

Plan’s work also includes ensuring children who have been displaced due to conflict, natural or man-made disasters are able to continue with their education. In Haiti, where we have supported programs for 35 years, Plan staff are working with the Government and others to set up temporary schools, provide psychosocial support, and safe places for children to play so that children affected by the 2010 earthquake are able to return to school with decreased levels of fear and anxiety. For some boys and girls this even means going to school for the first time.