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Primary and secondary education in the Asia-Pacific region - statistics & facts

With more than 560 million children in the compulsory school age group, the Asia-Pacific region is home to a highly diverse primary and secondary education sector. This diversity is reflected in numerous aspects, such as varying durations of compulsory education, diverging pupil-to-teacher ratios, and a disparity in enrollment and completion rates. As a result of these various learning environments across the APAC region, the over twenty associated countries fare both above as well as below average in international and worldwide comparisons. One example for this is adult illiteracy, an important indicator for understanding how solid and successful a region’s educational infrastructure is – South Asia ranks second worldwide in adult illiteracy, while East Asia and the Pacific are the region with the second lowest illiteracy rate among people aged 15 years and older.

Duration and enrollment

Whether enrollment in secondary education is compulsory differs from country to country, with the duration of compulsory education in APAC being as high as thirteen years in the Philippines and as low as five years in some countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh. These numbers are also often mirrored in the duration of free primary and secondary education guaranteed in each country’s legal frameworks, giving an idea as to how accessible basic education is for children living in different family backgrounds and circumstances. When it comes to enrollment rates, the countries in the APAC region fare comparably well – while the worldwide enrollment rate for primary education has leveled off at around 89 percent in recent years, all APAC countries except Pakistan reached enrollment rates between 90 and 100 percent.

Completion and post-completion

Similar to enrollment rates, a look at the global primary school completion rate puts the situation of basic education in the Asia-Pacific region into perspective. In this case, countries like the Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, and Mongolia had primary school completion rates of close to 100 percent, with several other countries being above the average of approximately 89 percent. In contrast, a few APAC countries were below this worldwide average, including Nepal, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, the latter of which had a completion rate of under 80 percent.
While primary and secondary education make up the necessary foundation in creating equal chances for all children, the similarly diversified sector of tertiary education in the Asia-Pacific region shines a light on which academic fields are deemed important in the long run and which countries are the frontrunners and innovators in each sector.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 32 most important statistics relating to "Primary and secondary education in the Asia-Pacific region".


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