57 million primary school age children are out of school in the world, 53 percent of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

Since the launch of Schools for Africa on 6 December 2004, more than 21 million children are benefiting from increased access to and quality of education, improved physical and learning environments in schools and from better teaching and learning processes and activities through the Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) approach.

In 2012, funds from Schools for Africa have been critical in helping support UNICEF education programmes in the SFA countries, which include the following areas of intervention:

  • Early childhood development
  • Access and retention to quality primary basic education
  • Non-formal education
  • HIV prevention in schools
  • Education in emergencies

The CFS approach is at the heart of the implementation of each area of our programmatic work and what we refer to as the “centerpiece of UNICEF’s work towards a quality education for all.

Key achievements in 2012

Your support for “Schools for Africa” means that even the poorest children in the farthest reaches of the continent have the chance to go to school and stay in school.

Behind every statistic you’ll find individual children whose futures are being changed and shaped by the placement of education on their country’s national agenda.

Here is just some of the progress that support from our donors has helped accomplish in 2012, in a few key areas.

Early Childhood Development (ECD): more than child’s play

What happens to a child in their earliest years is of critical importance – including building a foundation for the development of language and learning abilities. UNICEF wants to ensure that all children will have an equal chance to be better prepared for formal education.

  • In Malawi, a community-based childcare centre (CBCC) model was developed to provide ECD services to the many vulnerable children in the country.
  • In Mali, which is part of the nutrition crisis affecting the Sahel region, UNICEF supported the Ministries of Health and Education to develop an integrated strategy focused on psycho-cognitive stimulation of malnourished children.
  • Countries like Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, South Africa, and Zimbabwe continued to strengthen national capacities at all levels for more effective implementation of national ECD strategic plans and interventions. Thousands of teachers, health workers, parents and caregivers benefited from training in parental education and didactic education.
  • In Mali, Ethiopia and Malawi community engagement also contributed to promoting ECD.

Access to quality basic education: an investment in the future

UNICEF is profoundly committed to securing safe, quality education for each and every child, irrespective of his or her circumstances.

  • In Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger classrooms and schools were built, improved and equipped (Malawi: 132 classrooms, Mozambique: 86 classrooms, Rwanda: four child-friendly schools benefiting 5,500 children, Burkina Faso: 20 schools, Mali: 21 classrooms and Niger: 120 new classrooms and renovation of 163 existing classrooms).
  • 29,400 children benefited from access to child-friendly drinking water facilities in Mozambique; 3,850 in Mozambique, 6,000 in Rwanda and seven schools in Mali from access to sanitation facilities, and about 142,800 children also received basic hygiene skills in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
  • Learning conditions and school environments were improved through the progressive introduction of sport fields in Rwanda and libraries and schools in Burkina Faso.
  • Several countries worked to increase demand for education by making it more affordable. One example was the cash transfer scheme in Mali called 'Mother's Scholarships' where grants to women with children helped increase school enrolment and retention.
  • In Burkina Faso and Niger, efforts were made to ensure that schools were more accessible for children living with disabilities. This involved a range of strategies and activities such as advocating for inclusive education in national strategies, training educators in Braille and sign language and helping parents get the skills to support disabled children.
  • Getting children physically active is good for their minds, bodies and health. In Schools for Africa countries, sport in schools is being mainstreamed through CFS. In Mozambique and South Africa, for example, playgrounds were renovated, sport kits provided to children and school sport leagues set up in schools in South Africa.

Gender sensitive education: educating girls and transforming nations

UNICEF believes that by combining a girl’s right to education with her right to education, we can achieve her rights through education.

  • In 2012 UNICEF continued to find different ways of addressing the low attendance and retention of girls in school. To maintain girls in schools and allow them to continue to lower secondary school, pilot scholarship programmes were implemented in Madagascar and in Niger.
  • In South Africa, the Techno Girls project provided girls from disadvantaged backgrounds who excelled in maths and sciences with coaching and mentoring in 180 corporate companies.
  • Mali advocated for girls' education and carried out awareness campaigns.

Qualified teacher and child-centred learning: making teachers part of the equation

Quality learners need quality teachers, which is why UNICEF invests in training teachers to contribute to the overall improvement of quality of education for all children.

  • In Rwanda, UNICEF contributed to the 'Rwanda Reads' initiative launched in 2012. Around 115,000 books for pre-primary and primary classes were procured and distributed to 470,000 children. In Zimbabwe, UNICEF contributed to maintaining the pupil-textbook ratio at 1:1 in primary and secondary schools.
  • Teaching methodologies and the skills of teachers were improved through various strategies in countries like Angola, Mali, and Niger. In Rwanda the programme helped to improve the quality of learning of approximately 60,000 children. In Angola, Mali and Niger, focus was put on training teachers in child-centred learning, inclusive education and competency-based curricula.
  • In Mali, teachers were trained to support child victims of gender-based violence.
  • Mozambique radio campaigns on prevention of violence against children were carried out in, and South Africa, the Safe and Caring Child-Friendly Schools programme sought to address violence and sexual abuse in and around schools.
  • Ethiopian teachers working in disaster-prone regions in education in emergencies and disaster risk reduction. Innovative climate change and environmental education was also introduced through lessons and environmental clubs in more than 560 schools in seven regions.

Children and HIV/AIDS: encouraging the transmission of knowledge

The HIV and AIDS epidemic affects children at every level and school can play an important role in preventing infections among children and young people and protecting and supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS.

  • HIV and AIDS continued to be a key component of UNICEF education programming. Prevention measures were incorporated into life skills curricula while knowledge and awareness raising campaigns targeted both teachers and students
  • In Angola, for example, a National HIV Youth Prevention Strategy was developed and incorporated enhanced life skills and mitigation strategies.
  • In Mozambique 1,410 activists working with people living with HIV and AIDS were trained on life skills and on the use of school club manuals, while national guidelines on HIV awareness were developed for school clubs.
  • In South Africa, great efforts were made in improving the way that teachers transmit knowledge of HIV awareness and prevention to their students.
  • In Zimbabwe, young people living with HIV played a key role in developing a range of multi-media materials, which were used in schools to address stigma and increase support for children living with HIV.

In addition, countries have continued to support non-formal education. More than 14,000 learners were reached through alternative basic education (ABE) centres set up in Ethiopia, 1,642 out-of-school children in Mali were brought back into the fold of learning through accelerated learning programmes, and a second chance education programme in Angola.

Response to emergencies continued. In conflict-affected Mali, more than 15,500 internal displaced children were provided with learning materials, and 4,631 Malian refugee children in Niger and Burkina Faso were able to continue their current education paths through the provision of the Malian curriculum, textbooks and pedagogic materials.

Support to a variety of innovative interventions to advance "child-friendly" schools was provided. In Mali, for example, mothers' groups used their own income to finance feeding programmes for young children in ECD centres, and incentives were provided to mothers who volunteered as educators. In Niger, centres to improve literacy of parents and caregivers were established and campaigns launched to teach parents how to read and write, participate in school management and implement key family practices. Schools for Africa funds contributed to an innovative approach to teacher development in Rwanda where school-based mentors in 40 schools worked with approximately 800 teachers every day, supporting their continuous professional development and helping develop low-cost teaching aids using local materials. This initiative contributed to improving the quality of instruction for approximately 60,000 children.


"No child in Africa, and in fact anywhere in the world, should be denied education."

Nelson Mandela


Latest field results: December 2012

“Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.”

Claus Moser

Newly Built School, Kawangire. © UNICEF
© UNICEF A teacher helps two students with their lesson at the UNICEF-supported primary school in rural Murambinda Growth Point in the eastern Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe. © Giacomo Pirozzi
© UNICEF Water Tank, Mozambique. © UNICEF