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Regional distribution of children in and out of school

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 4 calls for "inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all". The first of the 10 targets within SDG 4 is: "By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes". The SDGs are the successor to the Millennium Development Goals that were adopted by the United Nations in 2000 and called, among other things, for universal primary education by 2015.

Data by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that the education MDG has not been met. 124 million children of primary and lower secondary school age were still out of school in 2013, the latest year for which reliable estimates are available. Among children of primary school age, the global out-of-school rate was 9%. Among adolescents of lower secondary school age, the global out-of-school rate was 17%. School ages vary from country to country but on average the official primary school age is 6 to 11 years and the lower secondary school age 12 to 15 years.

The global numbers hide large regional disparities. Figures 1, 2 and 3 show the distribution of the global school-age population in 2013 according to the regional classification used by UNESCO. UNESCO regions are virtually identical to the regions used for monitoring of the Education for All goals.

Figure 1 shows the number of children of primary school age by region. The number of children is plotted against the horizontal axis. For example, 176 million primary-age children lived in South and West Asia in 2013, 158 million in East Asia and the Pacific, and 147 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The global number of children of primary school age was 660 million in 2013. The proportion of children within each region who were in school or out of school is plotted against the vertical axis and the regions are arranged in order of the out-of-school rate. The numbers on the blue and red areas indicate the regional number of children in and out of school. For example, of the 147 million children in sub-Saharan Africa, 20% or 30 million were out of school, a higher percentage than in any other region; 80% or 117 million were in school. The Arab States were the region with the second highest out-of-school rate (12%). The region with the lowest out-of-school rate was Central and Eastern Europe, where 4% or 0.7 million of the 18.6 million children of primary school age were out of school in 2013.

Figure 1: Children of primary school age in and out of school, by region, 2013

Abbreviations: CA Central Asia, CEE Central and Eastern Europe, LAC Latin America and the Caribbean, NAWE North America and Western Europe.
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Figure 2 shows the regional distribution of adolescents of lower secondary school age in 2013. Of the 374 million lower-secondary-age adolescents globally, 102.3 million lived in South and West Asia, 91 million in East Asia and the Pacific, and 66 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The global population of lower secondary school age is smaller than the population of primary school age but lower secondary out-of-school rates were much higher in 2013 than primary out-of-school rates. Sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the highest lower secondary out-of-school rate (34%), followed by South and West Asia (26%) and the Arab States (17%). Whereas sub-Saharan Africa had the highest number of primary-age children out of school, South and West Asia was the region with the largest number of out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary age (26 million), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (23 million).

Figure 2: Children of lower secondary school age in and out of school, by region, 2013

Abbreviations: CA Central Asia, CEE Central and Eastern Europe, LAC Latin America and the Caribbean, NAWE North America and Western Europe.
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Lastly, Figure 3 shows the regional distribution of the population of primary and lower secondary school age combined. The global school-age population was greater than 1 billion in 2013. Of that number, 241 million lived in South and West Asia, 235 million in East Asia and the Pacific, and 160 million in sub-Saharan Africa. The combined out-of-school rate for children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age was 12% at the global level. The regions with the highest out-of-school rates were sub-Saharan Africa (25%), the Arab States (14%), and South and West Asia (13%). The lowest out-of-school rates (4%) were observed in North America and Western Europe, and in Central and Eastern Europe. In absolute terms, the regions with the largest out-of-school populations in 2013 were sub-Saharan Africa (53 million), South and West Asia (37 million), and East Asia and the Pacific (14 million).

Figure 3: Children of primary and lower secondary school age in and out of school, by region, 2013

Abbreviations: CA Central Asia, CEE Central and Eastern Europe, LAC Latin America and the Caribbean, NAWE North America and Western Europe.
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

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Friedrich Huebler, 28 February 2016, Creative Commons License
Permanent URL: http://huebler.blogspot.com/2016/02/oos.html

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