The Education for All goal and Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015 is the most prominent international goal in the field of education. Over the past years it has become increasingly apparent that the world will not reach this goal by the target year. New statistics, released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics on 26 June, confirm that the number of out-of-school children has remained at nearly the same level since 2007.
In 2012, the latest year with data, an estimated 58 million children of primary school age (typically between 6 and 11 years) were out of school, representing 9% of the global population in this age group. Between 2000 and 2007, the global number of out-of-school children fell from 100 million to 60 million in 2007, but since then there has been virtually no progress towards universal primary education (see Figure 1).
30 million out-of-school children, more than half of the global total in 2012, lived in sub-Saharan Africa. A further 10 million lived in South and West Asia, a reduction by more than two thirds from the 34 million out-of-school children in this region in 2000. 18 million children of primary school age were out of school in the remaining regions in 2012.
Girls account for the majority (53%) of the global out-of-school population, mainly due to gender disparities in sub-Saharan Africa, where 13 million boys and nearly 17 million girls were not in school in 2012.
In addition to the 58 million out-of-school children of primary school age, 63 million adolescents of lower secondary school age were not in school in 2012. This number is equivalent to 17% of the global population of lower secondary school age, typically between 12 and 15 years. In 2000, the global number of out-of-school adolescents was 97 million. Similar to the number of out-of-school children of primary school age, the number of out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary school age decreased steadily between 2000 and 2007, but since then progress has been much slower (see Figure 2).
South and West Asia had the largest number of out-of-school adolescents in 2012, 26 million, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 21 million and the rest of the world with 15 million. In contrast to the gender disparity observed among the out-of-school population of primary school age, the global population of out-of-school adolescents in 2012 was 50% male and 50% female.
For additional information on out-of-school children and adolescents, read the policy paper Progress in getting all children to school stalls but some countries show the way forward, published jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report in June 2014.
- UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)
- Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR)
- Announcement of new out-of-school figures on UIS website
- Announcement of new out-of-school figures on World Education Blog by EFA GMR
- UIS/EFA GMR policy paper Progress in getting all children to school stalls but some countries show the way forward (PDF): English, French, Spanish
- Education for All (EFA) goals (UNESCO)
- Millennium Development Goals (United Nations)
- 61 million out-of-school children in 2010
- Children of primary and secondary school age out of school
- Children out of school: Global trend 1999-2008
- Trends in primary school enrollment, 1970-2004
- Universal primary education by 2015: A goal out of reach?
- Global population of primary school age, 2000-2015
- Population structure and children out of school
- National wealth and school enrollment
- Survival rate to the last grade of primary school
- Transition from primary to secondary education
- Regional disparities in school life expectancy
- School attendance among 5- to 24-year-olds in Liberia