Facts on Children: Basic education and gender equality

Monday, November 27, 2006

Education is a basic human right, vital to personal and societal development and well being. 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

• Nearly 115 million children are out of school. Globally, some 54 per cent of the children out of primary school are girls, meaning that for every 100 boys out of school, 117 girls are in the same situation.

• Educating girls is key to ensuring the next generation receives an education. Some 75 per cent of children out of primary school in developing countries have mothers who did not go to school.

• While overall levels of enrolment have improved since 1980 and 125 countries – 91 in developing countries – are on target to achieve the gender parity goal in primary education, these figures mask tremendous pockets of gender disparity in education and extremely low enrolment figures.

• To achieve universal primary education by 2015, enrolment must increase globally by an average of 1.3 per cent per year over the next ten years. Specific countries have much steeper advances to make. Benin, for example, must improve at a rate of 2.88 per cent per year, Eritrea must advance at more than 4 per cent per year, Nepal at 2.25 per cent, and Afghanistan at 3.9 per cent.

• If most of the countries in the Middle East/North Africa, East Asia/Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean continue with their increasing rates of enrolment, they will be on course for 2015.

• There are 800 million illiterate adults world wide.

• Countries that have abolished school fees have seen tremendous surge in school enrolments: In Kenya in 2003, enrolment grew from 5.9 million to 7.2 million in a matter of weeks. Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi all had similar experiences following school fee abolition.
Author: UNICEF
Source: UNICEF
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