Press Release

February 1, 2013

Montréal design studio FFunction launches new interactive for UNESCO Institute for Statistics

20 January 2014 (Montréal, Canada) - UNESCO Institute for Statistics has just announced the launch of its new interactive visualization Out-of-School Children. The Institute worked with leading Canadian information design studio FFunction to create the interactive, which weaves together animated illustration, data exploration and technology to paint a picture of a complex and pressing issue: why 58 million children in the developing world do not attend school.

The interactive is part of the Out-of-School Initiative, a joint venture between the UNESCO Institute for Statistics  and Unicef that aims to increase global access to education. The interactive visualization Out-of-School Children was just unveiled at the Education World Forum (18-21 January 2015) in London, England.

“We were excited to work with such a wealth of up-to-the-minute data in aid of an important issue such as education in the developing world,” says FFunction CEO, Sébastien Pierre. “The data produced by UNESCO and Unicef allowed us to delve into the issue from several different perspectives; breaking school enrolment down into girls vs. boys, rich vs. poor and rural vs. urban, which gives the viewer a much better feel for the factors involved. We also included an introductory animation to show the magnitude of the overall problem and introduce the user to the issues at play.”

Data from 26 countries are included in Out-of-School Children, spanning Africa, Asia and the Arab states. These countries were selected because the issue of education is most acute, but UNESCO anticipates that others will join as the initiative grows. These countries, from India to Cambodia to Ethiopia to Libya, are beleaguered with manifold challenges; HIV/AIDS, poverty and conflict, causing a significant portion of school-age children to start school late, drop out, or in some cases never set foot in a classroom. Rural children are statistically less likely to be in school, as are girls. The scale of the problem is significant; Pakistan, for example, has five million children out of school, Nigeria nine million. Zambia has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS which means children are often needed to work and provide care. The interactive visualization is intended to begin conversations around this issue, so that a global action plan can be put in place as awareness grows.

Out-of-School Children is simple to navigate; users can select a country and a demographic group to see the ratio of children in school and out of school based on the total primary school-age population. A horizontal bar chart shows the breakdown of the two groups according to whether they will start late or not at all, and extra commentary is provided to give the user context around the unique issues that each country faces. Importantly, the subjects of this study are represented not by just numbers or graphs but by animated illustrations of actual children, personalizing the issue and forcing the user to identify with them.

About FFunction: FFunction is an award-winning Montreal studio specializing in information design. By combining software engineering and graphic design, FFunction creates beautiful and functional data visualizations, infographics and user interfaces for the web.

Media Contact

Rebecca Galloway