EducationBasic education and gender equality
Education is a basic human right, vital to the development and well-being of individuals and societies as whole. UNICEF advocates quality basic education for all children — girls and boys — with an emphasis on gender equality and eliminating disparities of all kinds. UNICEF works with a range of local, national and international partners to realize the education and gender equality goals.
Education key data
• The number of children of primary school age who are not attending school fell by nearly 20 per cent, from an estimated 115 million in 2002 to an estimated 93 million in 2006. Out of these, nearly 48.5 million are girls.
• Worldwide, some 86 per cent of primary-school-age children attend school. In developing countries, this figure is 84 per cent. • Primary school attendance is at 62 per cent in West and Central Africa, 70 per cent in Eastern and Southern Africa, 82 per cent in South Asia and 85 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa.
• The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 41 million children of primary school age are out of school. It is followed by South Asia (31.5 million), the Middle East and North Africa (6.9 million), East Asia and the Pacific (5 million) and Latin America and the Caribbean (4.1 million).
• In 15 countries, primary attendance increased by at least 10 percentage points from 2000 to 2006. In Turkmenistan, for example, attendance increased from 76 per cent to 99 per cent. In Rwanda, it went up from 75 per cent to 86 per cent; and in Sierra Leone, from 41 per cent to 69 per cent. In Somalia, it nearly doubled, from 12 per cent to 22 per cent.
• Worldwide, only 60 per cent of children of secondary school age attend secondary school. The others are either still enrolled in primary schools or are out of school.
• In sub-Saharan Africa, children of secondary school age are more likely to be in primary schools than in secondary schools. In fact, 25 per cent of them are in secondary schools, while 34 per cent are in primary schools.
• In Eastern and Southern Africa, only 23 per cent of children of secondary school age attend secondary school. That rate is 27 per cent in West and Central Africa, 53 per cent in South Asia and 58 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa.
• Gender gaps in primary education have closed in East Asia and the Pacific (97 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (93 per cent) and Eastern and Southern Africa (70 per cent).
Updated: February 2008