Connect with us :

Equitable Education

Equity, in education, is the extent to which access and opportunities for children and adults are just and fair. This implies reduction of disparities based on gender, poverty, residence, ethnicity, language, and other characteristics (UNESCO 2008).



Equity and equality are contested terms, used differently by different people. Following Jacob and Holsinger (2008, p. 4) we define equality as “the state of being equal in terms of quantity, rank, status, value or degree”, while equity “considers the social justice ramifications of education in relation to the fairness, justness and impartiality of its distribution at all levels or educational sub-sectors”. We take equity to mean that a distribution is fair or justified.

Currently, huge societal, economic and cultural potential is missed due to unequal policies and practices of not treating everyone equitably in the education system or excluding them from the system. Compared with the richest children, the poorest children are four times more likely to be out of school and five times more likely not to complete primary education (Global Education Monitoring Report, 2016).

Identity, background and ability dictate education opportunities. In all but high-income countries in Europe and Northern America, only 18 of the poorest youth complete secondary school for every 100 of the richest youth. (GEM 2020)

A research found that the costs of out of school children are as high as 2% – 7% of GDP in some Asian countries. This translates to 6.5 billion USD economic cost in Thailand, 17 billion USD in Indonesia, 1.7 billion USD in Philippines. At the same time, the budget usage for solving the issue is around 1% education spending, even though the research shows that the economic gain from universal primary education exceeds the needed public spending. Education is not only great investment by society, but also powerful tool to reduce socio-economic inequality.

Purpose of this page is to collect the most relevant and recent reports, recommendations, research and articles related to equitable education. Please share your best resources with us! Here you can find few cornerstones to get started and lots of news to continue with!

Inclusive Education

The goal of inclusive education is that the whole education system will facilitate learning environments where teachers and learners embrace and welcome the challenges and benefits of diversity. Within an inclusive education approach, learning environments are fostered where individual needs are met, and every student has an opportunity to succeed. This is opposite to exclusion, where for a reason or another, students are denied access to education. The figure (11.1) showcases different arrangements for arranging education.

“68% of countries define inclusive education in laws, policies, plans or strategies. Definitions that cover all marginalized groups are found in 57% of countries. In 17% of countries, the definition of inclusive education covers exclusively people with disabilities or special needs (GEM 2020).”

The term inclusion represents a commitment to make preschools, schools, and other education settings, places in which everyone is valued and belongs, and diversity are seen as enriching. Through inclusion, particular attention is geared towards groups of learners who, due to their gender, ability, ethnicity, religion, and social class, among others, are marginalised or are at risk of marginalisation (IBE-UNESCO, 2008). There are human rights (right to education), educational (better quality education for all through innovations driven by diversity of needs), social (learning in realistic, diverse, environment) and economic (less costly, better academic results) justification to inclusive education.

Educational Marginalization Framework

This description automatically generates the need to elimination of all forms of discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to education on grounds such as age, birth, caste, colour, descent, disability, documentation, ethnicity, civil, family or career status, gender identity, health status, or genetic or other predisposition toward illness, language, migration status, national or social origin, nationality, political or other opinion, parental status, pregnancy, property, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic disadvantage, statelessness, or other status’ (The Abidjan Principle.)

Marginalization refers to the process of relegating people to a position of less importance – not allowing them to take full part in society, exercise their rights, or access services that are available to other.

Inclusion makes sense; economically, it’s an efficient way to break the cycle of poverty, it’s as cost efficient as segregation, but delivers better academic results. Inclusion leads to better quality education but also grows number of learners and socially, it is allowing us to learn to collaborate in diverse environments, both in school and in life.

Here we will be updating relevant resources on how to build and improve inclusion in education. If this page is missing from this website, let us know and we’ll update it here!

Women in teaching: understanding the gender dimension

Promoting Equitable Education in Southeast Asia Through Innovative Monitoring and Evaluation

Tajikistan: Getting ready to welcome children with disabilities to school

Leave no one behind: equity and inclusion in education at UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office in Bangkok (UNESCO Bangkok)

Non-formal education and the promotion of lifelong learning 

Connected, inclusive and green: How UNESCO wants to transform education

UNESCO announces the addition of 77 cities worldwide to its Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) in 2022

10 Steps to Give Children with Disabilities a Quality Education

EdTech and the global learning crisis: Building an evidence-driven future

The Classroom: Face-to-Face vs. Virtual vs. Metaverse

REALIZING THE PROMISE: How can education technology improve learning for all?

Empowering youth to ensure skilling up for the fourth industrial revolution

What is Blended Learning?

Education for sustainable development for 2030 toolbox

Start Learning: Education Sustainable Development (ESD)

Timorese teachers are pioneering a new Tetun literacy horizon

Papua New Guinea: New trainings lift standards in teaching math and science

Lao PDR: Advancing young children’s learning through a TV series

Leveraging innovative technology in literacy and education programmes for refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons

Digital transformation of Non-formal education: key learnings from a flexible learning project in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam

Key Resources

Equity and Inclusion -guide

The Economic cost of out-of-school children in Southeast Asia

Equity Definition

Handbook on measuring equity in education

Equitable Education

Levels of Education

Vocational Education
Secondary Education
Primary Education
Non-Formal Education
Higher Education
Early Childhood and Pre-Primary Education