Over 12 million children have better educational opportunities through IKEA Foundation, Save the Children and UNICEF partnership

Monday 18 January 2016

Students from Dacang primary school in Yunnan province, which has carried out Save the Children's inclusive education project thanks to the funding of IKEA.

NEW YORK, 15 January, 2016 – More than 12 million children in over 46 countries have better schools, teachers and learning materials, thanks to a 13-year partnership between the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children and UNICEF.

Since 2003, the IKEA Foundation’s ‘Soft Toys for Education’ campaign has contributed €88 million to Save the Children and UNICEF, helping to increase school attendance for some of the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable children. Funds have also helped train teachers, provide educational materials and improve child‑protection systems in schools and communities.

 “Education is the most solid road leading out of poverty. All children have the right to an education but still too many are left behind. Partnering with UNICEF and Save the Children for 13 years has allowed us to address this issue strategically and invest in improving the quality of education in some of the world’s poorest communities—and we’re incredibly grateful to the IKEA customers and co-workers who have worked so hard to make that right a reality for over 12 million children,” said Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation

In Ethiopia, funds from the IKEA Foundation have helped UNICEF reach children in rural farming communities with basic education. The flexible schooling model has been so successful that the Ethiopian government has rolled it out nationally.

In China, IKEA Foundation funding helped develop early-childhood development centres for disadvantaged children living in selected rural communities. The impact of these centres on children’s lives contributed to the Government of China’s decision to universalize preschool education.

“UNICEF is grateful to the IKEA Foundation, IKEA co-workers and customers for the commitment demonstrated over the past 13 years to help transform children’s lives through education,” said UNICEF Global Chief of Education Josephine Bourne. “We will continue to build on these achievements so that many more of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized children are given the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families through education.”

With the support of the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children has worked in 17 countries in Asia and Europe to provide educational opportunities for previously out-of-school children, to improve the learning environment and to train teachers on child-centred, nonviolent, and inclusive teaching methodology.

In Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam, Save the Children has, together with education authorities and civil society organizations, supported policy reform and practices to ensure that children from minority groups learn in a language they understand.

“Education is a human right and the means by which to equip children with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the world. It also saves lives, protects and builds peace. Save the Children is extremely grateful for the partnership we have with the IKEA Foundation and the support we receive from IKEA employees and customers around the globe. Together, we have made an enormous difference for children with disabilities and children from ethnic minority groups, and Save the Children will not rest until all children have the opportunity to learn,” said David Skinner, Director of Save the Children’s Education Global Initiative.

Although the Soft Toys for Education campaign has ended its successful run, the IKEA Foundation will continue its commitment to UNICEF and Save the Children through ongoing grants in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia in the areas of education, early-childhood care and development, child protection, adolescence and humanitarian response.