5 stats to think about on the International Day of Education
Young boy and girl going home after lessons at the local school in Kathmandu, Nepal. Source: Shutterstock

January 24 is the International Day of Education. Established by the United Nations General Assembly, the date was set to recognise the importance of education in achieving sustainable development.

It recognises its role in building sustainable and resilient societies, increasing the productivity of individuals, strengthening economies, developing skills for decent work, etc. From early childhood to tertiary education, the importance of inclusive and equitable education cannot be ignored.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General, said of the occasion: “This day is the occasion to reaffirm fundamental principles.

“Firstly, education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Secondly, education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies. Lastly, we urgently need to call for collective action for education at global level.”

How much progress have we made so far? Take a look at the five stats below:

1. Primary education is still not universal.

School boys take an exam in the village school on June 20, 2012 in Gayo village, Ethiopia. Source: Shutterstock

The Millennium Development Goal for every primary-school-age child in the world to be enrolled in school missed the deadline of 2015. Worldwide, only 91 percent are enrolled, with areas like Sub-Saharan Africa holding a net enrolment rate of 79 percent in 2015. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of out-of-school primary-age children fell from 100 million to 61 million, but progress has since halted since 2007.

2. There are more girls out of school than boys

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for standing up for girls’ right to go to school. Source: Shutterstock

The majority of children out of school are girls, who make up 54 percent of the 115 million children not in school. For every 100 boys, there are only 94 girls in primary school. Only two-thirds of 181 countries have achieved gender parity in primary education.

The worst gender gap is in countries like Afghanistan (44 girls in school for every 100 boys), the Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Pakistan and Yemen.

3. Globally, 84 percent of secondary-school-age students are enrolled in school

Less than 20 percent of young adults in most OECD countries have not completed upper secondary education. Source: Shutterstock

In low-income countries, this figure drops to less than 70 percent. Much like primary education, the number of children of lower-secondary-school-age fell from 97 million to 62 million between 2000 to 2015. Progress has since stalled since 2007. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face the biggest challenges in secondary school participation.

Interestingly, less than 20 percent of young adults in most OECD countries have not completed upper secondary education.

4. At tertiary level in OECD countries, there are more women than men 

In the US, men look to be the new minority in college. Source: Juan Ramos on Unsplash

On average, 50 percent of women aged between 25-34 years were or are currently enrolled in university, compared to only 38 percent of men. The trend is bucked among senior citizens, however. Among 55-64-year-olds, there is an equal number of tertiary-educated men and women across OECD countries.

5. Going to university still pays off

University graduates are more likely to be employed and earn more. Source: lucas law on Unsplash

According to the World Bank, workers with higher education qualifications receive the highest earnings. It’s estimated they receive a 17 percent increase in earnings, compared with 10 percent for primary and seven percent for secondary education. In OECD countries, the figure is several times more – among 25-64-year-old adults, those with a tertiary degree earn 54 percent more than those with only an upper secondary qualification.

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