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Gender Parity and Primary Education: Number 2, April 2005 View All Reports >
Barriers, threats and opportunities

Progress in achieving the education and gender MDGs depends not just on providing education but on addressing the barriers that prevent some children from starting or completing school. Among the most significant barriers are poverty, mothers' lack of education and the urban-rural divide.

Poverty Household survey data from all developing regions show that children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are 3.2 times more likely to be out of primary school than those from the wealthiest 20 per cent. This ratio masks wide variations among regions and between individual countries.

In the CEE/CIS region the poorest children are 1.6 times more likely to be out of primary school, whereas the ratio stretches to 4.5 in both Middle East/North Africa and Latin America/Caribbean. Even within CEE/CIS, in both Kazakhstan and the Republic of Moldova children from the poorest households are at least 5.0 times more likely to be out of school.

Mothers' education Children whose mothers have had no education are more than twice as likely to be out of school as children whose mothers have had some education and the likelihood stretches to more than two-and-a-half times in Latin America/Caribbean and South Asia.

In developing countries, 75 per cent of children out of primary school have mothers with no education rising to 80 per cent in West/Central Africa, South Asia and Middle East/North Africa. These data underline the importance of getting as many girls and future mothers into school as soon as possible and encouraging them to stay on to complete their education.

Geographic location Children's chances of going to school partly depend on where they live. Fully 30 per cent of rural children in developing countries are out of school compared with 18 per cent of those living in urban areas.

Among those children out of school who live in rural areas, girls are often the most deprived. For example, in Ethiopia, for every 100 boys in school in urban areas there are 97 girls; but for every 100 boys in school in rural areas there are only 76 girls.

Progress for Children
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