UNICEF field staff play with children at Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, where UNICEF supports schools and preschools.

What is the MENA OOSCI?

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI) is part of the global OOSCI launched by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2010. The overall objectives of the Initiative are to:

  • Improve the statistical information and analysis on out-of-school children and understand not just how many children are out of school, but who they are and where;
  • Identify the barriers that contribute to exclusion from education; and 
  • Analyse the existing and needed policies and strategies related to enhanced school participation.

Countries with ongoing work on OOSCI in MENA are: Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. Recently, the work of OOSCI has also expanded to new countrues in the region: Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and the State of Palestine. The work within the framework of the Initiative is led by Ministries of Education working closely with a team of national and local education officials and stakeholders from civil society and think tanks. 

How does it work?

OOSCI uses and analyses diverse data from administrative records and household surveys to derive comprehensive profiles of children who are not in school, count the ‘invisible’ children who do not attend school, and identify the reasons for their exclusion from education. The Five Dimensions of Exclusion Model has been introduced to build portraits of excluded children. The model represents a broad, complex and equity-focused approach that profiles out-of-school children as well as those at risk of dropping out. It is based on the right of children to a full course of good quality education (pre-primary, primary and lower secondary).

Dimension 1 represents a group of children who do not benefit from pre-primary education and who may, therefore, not be adequately prepared for primary education, placing them at risk of not entering into primary education or, if they do enter, at risk of dropping out.

Each of the out-of-school Dimensions 2 and 3 is divided into three categories based on previous or future school exposure: children who attended in the past and left, children who are likely to never enter school, and children who are likely to enter school in the future (overage children).

Children in Dimensions 4 and 5 – those in school but at risk of exclusion from education – are grouped by the level of education they attend, regardless of their age.

The Five Dimensions of Exclusion Model seeks to disaggregate statistics on out-of-school children according to characteristics such as wealth, disability, location, gender, race/ethnicity and age group. In addition, the model examines the interaction between these characteristics which create complex and mutually reinforcing patterns of disadvantage and barriers to schooling.

The model also enables linkages to be made between the profiles of children out of school and the barriers that have led to their exclusion. Once these barriers have been identified, targeted strategies can be developed to address them.