At present, UNESCO estimates that across ASEAN-member countries there are more than 3.2 million OOSC. Furthermore, UNESCO data indicates that OOSC prevalence in ASEAN countries cost the bloc roughly US$26 billion in GDP in 2015 alone. The region’s school-age children typically face formidable barriers to education, such as gender and racial discrimination, geographic marginalisation, poverty, conflict, natural disasters and even statelessness. Oftentimes, access barriers intertwine, complicating the situation, and necessitate creative and innovative solutions. The scope of the challenge is enormous and illustrates the importance of government and education stakeholders working together.
To that end, the ASEAN Declaration was developed in line with SDG 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – and articulates guiding principles with respect to inclusivity, equity, accessibility, continuity, quality, flexibility and sustainability. In light of each ASEAN country’s specific context, the Declaration acknowledges that there can be no uniform approach to expanding the reach of an education system. Instead, the Declaration appeals for flexible-learning strategies that create opportunities for OOSC in formal and non-formal settings; assistance to OOSC and their families to mitigate the impact of poverty; and a basic education equivalency framework at country and regional levels.
Educate A Child is encouraged by UNESCO Asia’s and ASEAN’s commitment to the region’s OOSC and will continue to keep the promise that all children realise their right to an education.
Image Credit: Sompop S