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Education worldwide - statistics & facts

Education has different priorities all over the world. While education is compulsory in some countries, it is reserved for specific groups in other places. Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education that an individual has completed. Around 90 percent of the world’s population had completed a primary education in 2020, whereas only 66 percent had attained a secondary education. The numbers were even lower in tertiary education, with around 40 percent of the global population having attained some kind of tertiary education, most of which were female. Adult males are on average more literate than females, although the literacy gender gap has shrunk among the world’s younger generations in recent years.

Despite the lack of a universal understanding of what sufficient and quality education is, the global society can agree on one thing: Everyone should have the right to education. This was cemented in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Among 20 pertinent topics, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all was deemed the fourth most pressing issue worldwide. While educational attainment has generally increased over the past many years, newer figures show that the continuous progress has stagnated in some regions.

Progress towards inclusive and equitable education has indeed been too slow in recent years, and it is estimated that over 200 million children will still be out of school in 2030. As of 2018, around 16 percent of children all over the world were not enrolled in primary education, while for lower secondary school children the number reached over 30 percent in that same year. In both cases, the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia housed the highest proportions of out-of-school children worldwide.

Inequalities in education have furthermore been exacerbated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. School closures kept about 90 percent of all students out of school, and as of March 2021 nearly 682 million students across the globe lived in countries with closed schools. Around 1.5 billion students and 630 million teachers have already been affected by the pandemic, and it is estimated that about 23.8 million students worldwide are at risk of not returning to education institutions, particularly students in tertiary education.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 35 most important statistics relating to "Education worldwide".


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