Education reduces inequalities, promotes socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty. Over the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education and school enrolment rates at all levels, particularly for girls. However, about 260 million children were still out of school in 2018 — nearly one fifth of the global population in that age group. And more than half of all children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces the biggest challenges in providing schools with basic resources. The situation is extreme at the primary and lower secondary levels, where less than one half of schools in sub-Saharan Africa have access to drinking water, electricity, computers and the Internet.

The global pandemic has the potential to jeopardise hard won gains made in improving global education. Temporary school closures due to COVID-19 have affected more than 90 percent of students worldwide. Close to 1.6 billion children and youth were out of school by April 2020 and nearly 369 million children who rely on school meals needed to look to other sources for daily nutrition.

Never have so many children been out of school at the same time, disrupting learning and upending lives, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. Evidence-based policy and practical solutions informed by high quality research and innovation will be crucial if we are going to meet the education SDG targets to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Source: United Nations Development Programme, 2020.

Newton Fund

We build research and innovation partnerships with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to support social and economic welfare, tackle global challenges and develop talent and careers.

Global Challenges Research Fund

We help UK and international researchers and innovators address the key issues affecting developing countries.

Newton Fund and GCRF are drawing to a close. The International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) is a new UK Government fund supporting research and innovation on the major themes of our time: Planet, Health, Tech, Talent. To stay on the Newton-GCRF website click Continue, if you would like to find out more about ISPF click Read more.