Key Terms and Definitions

These types of OOSC encompass multiple categories and sub-categories of children that projects, programs and donors target. A project may target one or several of the dimensions and categories of out of school children.

Key Terms and Definitions
  • Children Affected By Conflict, Natural Disasters and Other States of Emergency or Fragility

  • Remote Rural Populations

  • Children Living in a Household Affected By Poverty

  • Migrants and Nomads

  • Orphans and Vulnerable Children

  • Minorities

  • Children with special needs

    Children with special needs generally refers to children with physical, mental/cognitive, or learning handicaps or disabilities. 

Children Affected By Conflict, Natural Disasters and Other States of Emergency or Fragility

  • Internally Displaced Persons

    Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of, or in order to, avoid the effects of armed conflicts, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border. (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2004)

  • Refugees

    According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Refugees are people who are outside their country of nationality or habitual residence, and have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. People fleeing conflicts or generalized violence are also generally considered as refugees, although sometimes under legal mechanisms other than the 1951 Convention. (United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 2012)

  • Returnees

    Internally displaced persons or refugees who have returned to their homes or places of habitual residence. 

  • Child Soldiers

    Any person below 18 years of age who is or has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities. Child soldiers are also referred to as child combatants or children associated with armed forces or fighting groups. (UNICEF, 2007)

  • Demobilized Child Soldiers

    Demobilized Child Soldiers are child soldiers who have been removed, released or discharged from an armed force or group and are or have returned to their home community or another place of settlement. (Verhey, 2001)

Children Living in a Household Affected By Poverty

  • Income (Economic) Poor

    Children living in households that earn an average of $1.25/day (extreme poverty) and/or those families living on an average of $2/day (poor). (World Bank, 2013)

Children with special needs

  • Disability

    The umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions, referring to the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual’s contextual  factors (environmental and person factors).

    Impairments are problems in body function or alterations in body structure (e.g. paralysis or blindness)

    Activity limitations are difficulties in executing activities. (e.g. walking or eating)

    Participation restrictions are problems with involvement in any area of life.

    Health conditions are diseases, injuries, and disorders. (World Health Organization, 2011)

Migrants and Nomads

  • Economic Migration

    Migration is the process of moving, either across an international border, or within a State.  Economic migration is the process of people leaving their normal place of residence to settle outside their country of origin in order to improve their quality of life.

  • Migrants/Migrant Workers

    A migrant is “any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country.” A migrant Worker is, “a person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a national.” (International Organisation for Migration, 2004)
    “Migrant covers all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of ‘personal convenience’ and without intervention of an external compelling factor.”

    • Does not refer to refugees or displaced persons
    • Migrants make the decision to move w/o extreme external forces or compelling forces.
    • 6 categories of migrants:
      1. Temporary labor migrant
      2. Highly skilled business migrants
      3. Irregular migrants (undocumented/illegal)
      4. Forced migrant
      5. Family members (family reunion/family reunification)
      6. Return migrants (those who return to their countries of origin after a period in another country.)
  • Nomads

    People who do not live in a permanent residence or settlement. Typically, ethnic or socio-economic groups who constantly travel and migrate in large or small groups in search of means of livelihood within a community or country or across international boundaries. Within nomads, there are several breakdowns:

    • Full Pastoralist Nomads: Lifestyle based upon maintenance of herds of animals that depend mainly on vegetation for their food. The distinction of full pastoralist nomads is that all members of the group move together with the animals in their care.
    • Semi-Pastoralist Nomads: Semi-pastoralist nomads are characterized as groups in which part of the group are on the move for periods of time with the herds while others stay in settlements. (Carr-Hill & Peart, 2005)


  • Ethnic, Racial, and Linguistic Minorities

    A group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State, in a non-dominant position, whose members—being nationals of the State—possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language. (United Nations Human Rights, 2010)

Orphans and Vulnerable Children

  • Orphans and Vulnerable children (OVC)

    Orphans and other groups of children are those who are more exposed to risks than their peers. OVC are children who are most likely to not be reached by regular programs, or, using social protection terminology.  OVC are groups of children that experience negative outcomes, such as the loss of their education, morbidity, and malnutrition, at higher rates than do their peers. (World Bank, 2005).

  • Traditional Orphans

    An orphan is a child aged 0-17 whose mother (maternal orphans) or father (paternal orphans) or both (double orphans) are dead.

  • Social Orphans

    Children whose parents might be alive but are no longer fulfilling any of their parental duties. For example, drug addicts who are separated from their children with little chance of reunion, parents who are sick or abusive or who, for other reasons, have abandoned or largely neglect their children.

  • Children in street situations

    Children of/on the street who are under the age of 18 who work and/or sleep on the streets and may or may not necessarily be adequately supervised or directed by responsible adults. UNICEF defines two co-existing categories of street children; those “of the street” and those “on the street”:

    • Children of the street are homeless children who live and sleep on the streets in urban areas. They are totally on their own, living with other street children or homeless adult street people.
    • Children on the street earn their living or beg for money on the street and return home at night maintaining contact with their families. (UNICEF, 2001)

Remote Rural Populations

  • Rural

    Rural area is based on the definition applied in national statistical practices and exercises. For example, a rural area can be considered as a geographical region outside the urban agglomeration. (UNESCO Institute for Statistics)