For 61 million children, education remains out of reach
According to newly released data, an estimated 61 million children of primary school age are being denied their right to education. Failure to reduce this number condemns these girls and boys to poverty, poor health and lack of opportunity, while weighing heavily on efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
While the global out-of-school figure has declined over the past 15 years, falling from 105 million in 1990, data show that progress began to slow down in 2005 and has stagnated between 2008 and 2010 with the number remaining at 61 million.*
At the same time, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of out-of-school children of primary school age climbed from 29 million in 2008 to 31 million in 2010. Although enrolment in the region has risen, it has not kept pace with rapid population growth. Nigeria alone is home to an estimated 10.5 million out-of-school children – 3.6 million more than in 2000, or 42% of the primary school-age population.
By contrast, countries in South and West Asia have made major gains over the past two decades, reducing their number of out-of-school children by two-thirds, from 39 million in 1990 to 13 million in 2010 -- helped by slowing growth among the primary school-age population.
Typically, it is the marginalized, poor and remote rural populations, and those affected by conflict and discrimination, who are denied access to schooling, as underscored in the EFA Global Monitoring Report. In short, the children who are being denied education are those who need it the most.
In a joint paper, the UIS and the EFA Global Monitoring Report have outlined five reasons why education must be addressed urgently:
1. Education reduces poverty and promotes economic growth
2. Maternal education improves children’s nutrition and chances of survival
3. Education helps fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases
4. Education promotes gender equality
5. Education promotes democracy and participation in society
The latest data and indicators can be mapped, graphed and shared using the UNESCO eAtlas of Out-of-School Children.
* In 2011, the UIS estimated that the number of primary school-age children out of school in 2009 was 67 million. In 2012, the UIS updated its out-of-school estimates based on the revised UN population data release. The 67 million estimate for 2009 was revised downward to 61 million. The revised out-of-school numbers show virtually no reduction between 2008 and 2010.