Girl and teacher smile as they look at the blackboard, schoolmates in the background.


For any child, education can open doors to the future that would otherwise be locked tight. But it’s not just about the future – children with healthy learning environments are better protected from exploitation here and now. Girls, especially, are safer from abuse and early marriage.


$42 million

focused on Education

111 projects

people reached


In Mali, the primary school completion rate increased from

20% to 60%Toroly|2014-2020

In Sri Lanka, children reading with comprehension increased from

18% to 65%Eravur Pattu|2014-2021

22898children attended early childhood development centres


163651books were shipped to support children's learning


948594children received school supplies and educational resources like books

Connected Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 04 logo: Quality EducationSustainable Development Goal 05 logo: Gender EqualitySustainable Development Goal 08 logo: Decent work and economic growth

Explore our investments and results

Explore our investments and results options


An image of children sitting on the ground in a classroom, writing in workbooks.

Global Challenges

Significant global investments to improve access to education for the world’s girls and boys have largely succeeded, with both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focusing on issues of access, quality and gender equity. The number of out-of-school girls—which is historically larger— has been moving toward parity with boys, while the gender gap among primary-age children has decreased.

Despite these encouraging trends, access to quality learning remains a challenge for the world’s most vulnerable children, especially those living in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. In 2019, 127 million primary and secondary school-age children and youth—nearly half of the world’s out-of-school population—were living in crisis-affected countries, yet education received just 2.6% of total humanitarian funding, far below the target of 4% set by the United Nations in 2012.

With the COVID-19 pandemic heightening existing barriers to education, UNESCO now estimates that an additional 11 million primary and secondary school-age children and youth may not return to school. Even so, gaps in education spending are widespread, and the pandemic continues to place downward pressure on funding for development assistance around the world, including for education

Effects of COVID-19 on girls' education

School shutdowns related to COVID-19 have been especially challenging for girls. Without the protective environment of school, they’ve become more exposed to gender-based violence, forced marriage and early pregnancy. The situation is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa, where World Vision estimates that over one million girls are in danger of never returning to school. The loss of education will have far-reaching effects—not just on girls, but on their children and entire communities. If young mothers in these countries aren’t supported to continue their education, the region could see its economy suffer a loss of $10 billion US in GDP above and beyond the immediate effects of COVID-19.

Beyond basic access to quality education, effective learning remains a challenge. Even before the pandemic, six out of ten children and adolescents worldwide—an estimated 617 million young people— were not achieving minimum skill levels in reading and math. Despite years of growing school enrolment rates in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 70 million girls—or 90%—were not on track to meet minimum literacy standards by the time they were of age to complete primary education.

Disruptions to early childhood education and mental health concerns

Early access to literacy and numeracy programs ensures young people are equipped for successful lives. Ideally, this work begins with access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE), but we know that in 2020, 155 million preschool-age children were affected by school closures. The economic return on investment in ECCE programs is equal to roughly ten times their cost through projects focused on children’s early foundational learning and brain development.

Another concerning effect of COVID-19 is the worsened mental health of children and youth—a result of school shutdowns, lack of access to alternative learning options and in many cases, real loss and grief. Worldwide, more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some degree of lost education. The disruption to routines, learning, social interaction and recreation has left young people anxious, angry and worried about their futures. Girls and boys report increased mental health problems—with girls reporting them more—and LGBTQI+ learners cite some of the highest levels of isolation and anxiety.

Access to and completion of quality education is key for children’s future stability and success, and with so much at stake for a generation of learners, the protective aspects provided through safe school environments, positive peer relationships and caring adults is critical to restore.

Please see our Annual Results Report for a full list of references

Two young girls smile at each other as they stand in a grass field with a bicycle.

Approach and Strategy

Our Goal

Girls and boys have the knowledge and skills to lead fulfilling, productive lives

Work with children and their families from birth to stimulate brain development and early learning
Support children to achieve foundational literacy and numeracy skills
Equip adolescents and youth with skills to earn a living
Influence governments to provide improved, gender-transformative and inclusive education services
Partner with communities to address social, cultural and gender-related access barriers to learning

Educating girls and boys for life is the heart of World Vision’s approach to education. We invest in and provide access to quality education for millions of girls and boys—including the most vulnerable, hardest to reach and those with disabilities—in safe and nurturing learning environments.

  • We provide early childhood education from infancy, working with parents and caregivers to stimulate children’s early brain development and establish the foundations for learning.
  • Our pre-school programming focuses on pre-literacy, pre-numeracy and early social skills, preparing children for formal schooling.
  • In the early primary grades, we prioritize girls’ and boys’ reading comprehension skills.
  • With adolescents and youth, we cultivate abilities in entrepreneurship, employability and life skills that empower them in their future life planning and decisions.

While we’re focused on ensuring girls and boys are enrolled and staying in school, we use approaches that reach both in-school and out-of-school children with quality learning opportunities. Meanwhile, our gender-responsive community interventions address girls’ right to access education and reduce barriers such as early marriage and pregnancy, household poverty, gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices and beliefs.

Using research and impact evidence from our education projects, we advocate to national governments and policy makers for improved, gender-responsive and inclusive education services for girls and boys. Where formal education systems have been weakened or eroded by crisis, World Vision supports national ministries of education, strengthens the systems to respond to the needs of vulnerable children, adolescents and youth, and encourages resilience by preparing communities for future shocks to their education services.

How we’ve adapted in the face of COVID-19

  • The pandemic has significantly impacted the way World Vision conducts education programming—in both long-term development settings and during emergency responses – from methods of student instruction and teacher training to in-school safety protocols.
  • Innovative no-tech, low-tech and hi-tech approaches including at-home learning, remote radio instruction and online instruction (where possible) have reached thousands of out-of-school girls, boys and youth with continuous learning, and supported their return to formal education when schools reopened.
A white jeep driving through a muddy path, featuring a rainbow and trees in the background.

Investments and Results

In 2021, $42 million was invested in 111 projects that focused primarily on education approaches, reaching 618,956 girls, 597,582 boys, 97,582 women and 95,204 men. Nearly all of this investment (97%) went toward development programming. While this work is valuable, we are committed to finding sources of revenue that will ensure vulnerable children have access to education in less stable settings as well—particularly in chronic emergencies and fragile contexts. Even so, our breakdown of investment across countries in all levels of fragility shows that education spending happens broadly across all regions, with investments per region ranging from 13% to 27% of the portfolio.

Our education work in 2021 brought improvements in quality standards of instruction and learning, seen in Unlock Literacy classroom curriculum and community reading clubs, early childhood education and development programs and centres, teacher training, context appropriate reading and learning materials, and the adaptation of school infrastructure to be gender sensitive and inclusive of students with disabilities.

We continue to work with girls and boys throughout their education life cycle—from infancy and early childhood to formal pre-primary, primary and secondary schooling and youth job skills training—as we equip young people to acquire literacy skills and live productive and fulfilling lives.

A wide-shot image of two people wearing backpacks, looking up at a massive green mountain area.



Efforts put in by families and communities over the past several years have contributed to measurable positive change. Here are some education examples we gathered in 2021.


A young boy in a preschool classroom smiles at the camera.

Conflict and humanitarian emergencies have created a global education crisis that is limiting the futures of more than 200 million children around the world.

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A woman sitting in a chair smiles at the camera.

Refugee voices must drive refugee education – a new 2022-2023 cohort of the Refugee Education Council brings together 15 refugee youth and youth from host communities around the world to inform Canada's Together for Learning campaign.

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A boy sits at a classroom desk wearing a medical mask.

Why is education important and how does it affect one’s future?

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Unless otherwise stated, data presented on this page reflects results of World Vision Canada programs reported between October 2020 and September 2021.