The right to education is universal and does not allow for any form of exclusion or discrimination. However, all countries face challenges guaranteeing equal opportunities for all in accessing education and within education systems. Marginalised groups are often left behind by national educational policies, denying many people their right to education.

Although thinking about 'groups' can be helpful, groups tend to be heterogenous. For instance, the group 'women and girls', composed of half the world's population, is highly diverse. It includes women and girls from rich and poor backgrounds, girls with impairments, Indigenous girls, girls living in rural areas, etc. and any combination thereof. Each women experiences discrimination and inequality in a unique way depending on her idenity and other factors. A feature of marginalisation is that people who are marginalised are very likely to be subject to multiple layers of discrimination.

Non-discrimination and equality are key human rights that apply to the right to education. States have the obligation to implement these principles at national level. National laws can prohibit discrimination and create an environment enabling greater equity. Furthermore, affirmative action and promotional measures are often necessary in order to eliminate existing inequalities and disparities in education.

The UNESCO video below explains what the data tells us about the marginalised groups of children who are excluded from education.