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9 NGOs advocating for the Right to Education

Childhood Education International

CE International focuses on education for children, especially the most vulnerable and ages birth to 11 years. The organization works through a network of country liaisons throughout the world, volunteers often working in the fields of childhood development, education, and other aspects of the education sector. These liaisons gather information about childhood education practices and policies and share this info with CE International to help the development of programs and promote intercultural understanding. CE International also serves as a consultant to the UN on their education agenda.

CE International’s three primary programs include the Center for Education Diplomacy and Leadership, Global Schools First, and Innovation Exchange. The Center for Education Diplomacy and Leadership teaches Education Diplomacy skills to help leaders advocate for change in education policy and practices. Global Schools First is a program for primary schools around the world to use a specific curriculum and reach standardized milestones for child development and education. Innovation Exchange is an online platform for sharing creative, new, and innovative programs that are advancing education practices and access in various ways.

Plan International

Plan International is an international organization that focuses specifically on children’s rights and equality for girls, including in the area of education. They work to empower children, youth, and communities; advocate for policy change; prepare communities and children for crises situations; and support safe and successful progression of childhood from birth to adulthood.

Plan believes that every child has the right to safe, quality education. Their programs focus specifically on the most vulnerable groups, such as girls, children with disabilities, children from minority groups, and those living in areas of poverty. Plan strives to increase access to education for girls, increase inclusive education for children with disabilities, bridge the gender digital divide, and increase access to education during emergencies. In addition to focusing on in-school education and curriculum, Plan also addresses issues dealing with education out of school, early childhood care, and pre-primary education.

Save the Children

Save the Children is an international organization focusing on children’s rights and other issues related to children. One of their primary focus areas is learning and education, especially for children in emergencies and crises, children in extreme poverty, and children facing discrimination in education. Save the Children has programming focusing on early childhood, to help ensure that children were adequately prepared for schooling by providing preschool environments and in-home teaching materials.

Save the Children also partners with national and local governments to improve educational access and ensure that schools will help children develop their reading and writing skills early. Additionally, they provide education during times of conflict or natural disaster to help decrease time out of school or other educational interruptions. For older children, Save the Children hosts a Literacy Boost program to help them gain reading and writing skills they missed out on learning at a younger age.

Roma Education Fund (REF)

REF is focused on closing the gap in education for Roma children. They are represented throughout Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, and Turkey. They provide grants and scholarships to individuals and entities involved in similar work of increasing education access and quality for Roma children throughout the region. In addition to scholarships, REF also oversees several projects with partner organizations relating to Roma education, advocates for policies to improve access and quality of education for Roma, and conducts research to determine areas of needed improvement and outcomes of programs.

REF’s strategy aims to increase access to early childhood education, close the gap between Roma and non-Roma students in secondary and tertiary education levels, improving quality of education, better integration of Roma children throughout education systems, working with state and local governments to reform the education systems, and the promotion and protection of Roma interests in education.

African Education Foundation (AEF)

AEF is committed to the improvement of health and education in West Africa. They work to build schools, libraries, health clinics, and other learning centers and develop and maintain clean water supplies. AEF works alongside the Peace Corps to carry out their projects, as well as other local NGOs and community groups. Since 1986, AEF has constructed and renovated education and health facilities in Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Mali, Ghana, and Benin.

The Education Trust

Education Trust is a US-based organization focused on closing gaps in education for students of color and students from low-income families. Their efforts work to increase equity in education at all levels, increase college access and completion, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to get involved in educational equity.

Education Trust’s programs address a number of areas, including college-ready standards, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), strong teachers and leaders, Pell grant bans for incarcerated students, financial aid for higher education, and legislative advocacy, among many other issues. Education Trust also conducts research, releasing publications for educators, advocates, lawmakers, and parents to learn about ongoing problems and improvements being made through programming.

Asha for Education

Asha for Education is a volunteer-run nonprofit with over 50 chapters around the world, dedicated to creating socio-economic change in India through education of underprivileged children. Asha has dozens of programs throughout India addressing a number of issues that present barriers to education. They also have a sponsorship program, helping individual children access education, educational materials, and more. Individuals and organizations can also apply for funding through Asha, to financially support projects that fall under the objectives of Asha’s organization.

Asha’s primary objectives for their organization, funding, and chapters are to provide education to underprivileged children in India, encourage the formation of groups around the world that can spread awareness, support and work alongside groups with similar goals, to provide opportunities for individuals outside of India to participate in Asha’s activities in India, and to address a variety of issues impacting human life.

Education Development Center (EDC)

EDC is an international organization that strives to create lasting solutions to improve education, promote health, and expand economic opportunities. They work with both public and private partners to develop curricula/toolkits/courses, conduct evaluations of initiatives, advise on capacity building/professional development/training/technical assistance, advise on policy, and conduct qualitative and quantitative research.

In addition to promoting improvements in early childhood development and learning and elementary and secondary education, EDC focuses on a comprehensive approach to improving educational access and quality by developing programs that address behavioral and mental health, reproductive and sexual health, substance misuse, suicide and violence, capacity building, out-of-school learning, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and youth and workforce development.


CARE is an international organization that focuses on a variety of issues impacting children, girls, and women around the world, including education and learning. In particular, CARE’s programs focus on girls’ education and youth empowerment. To improve access to and quality of education for girls, CARE works to remove barriers such as child marriage, early pregnancy, and poverty. In regards to youth empowerment, CARE provides job training, mentorship, and other educational services to help children towards healthy adulthood.

CARE works with communities, governments, and other partner organizations at various levels to implement their education programs. They train teachers and other school staff to improve education quality and help students access services and interventions in the areas of health, nutrition, and livelihood to lessen barriers to school attendance.

About the author

Allison Reefer

Allison Reefer is a young professional living in Pittsburgh, PA. She works with a refugee resettlement agency to help refugees and immigrants in the city, and she volunteers with a local shelter for human trafficking victims. She obtained her Master in International Development from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Writing from Geneva College, focusing most of her academic work on human trafficking and migration in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In her free time, she loves to write, read, sing and play bass guitar, practice Russian, and explore her city.