Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Report

Executive summary


Remarkable efforts have been made to increase educational access in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) and to achieve the targets highlighted by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education For All (EFA) goals. Most countries in the region have experienced a rapid expansion in primary and secondary school enrolment rates, but major questions remain about the achievement of primary school completion rates, the quality of educational provision, whether transitions to secondary school have improved, and whether gains in educational outcomes have been equitable. This report is a situation analysis of out-of-school children (OOSC) in ESAR. Its aim is to provide up-to-date knowledge and evidence on the profiles of OOSC, the barriers and bottlenecks that children and families face in accessing education, and an analysis of responses, including policies and strategies to enable children to gain meaningful access (defined below).

Conceptual framework

This situation analysis is guided by a conceptual framework and a review of available data and research. The framework was produced by UNICEF and UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2011 as part of the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children. It draws upon the idea of ‘Zones of Exclusion’, developed by the Consortium for Research on Educational Access Transitions and Equity (CREATE). The Five Dimensions of Exclusion provides a useful conceptualisation of children who are out of school. According to this document, Dimension 1 includes children of pre-primary age who are not in pre-primary or primary school; Dimension 2 includes children of primary age who are not in primary or secondary school; Dimension 3 applies to children of lower secondary age who are not in primary or secondary school; and Dimensions 4 and 5 refer to children who are in primary or lower secondary school and at risk of dropping out.

Data and evidence

This analysis draws on a broad range of quantitative and qualitative research and data produced by academics, governments, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and other international organizations. Evidence was gathered on the 21 countries in ESAR, which were organized into four groups to help structure the review and analysis. The four groups were: middle-income countries, small-development contexts, large-development contexts and fragile states. In addition, the analysis draws on policy documents and plans drawn up by international organizations and governments relevant to the problems of OOSC. UNICEF country offices in ESAR also provided key documents.