244 million children do not start the new school year (UNESCO) – world

As the new school year begins in many parts of the world, new UNESCO data shows that 244 million children and young people aged 6 to 18 worldwide are still out of school. Audrey Azoulay, Director General, calls for a collective mobilization to ensure that every child’s right to access quality education is respected.

The new estimates, published online, show that sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the most out-of-school children, with a total of 98 million children. It’s also the only region where this number is growing: the number of school leavers is falling at a slower rate than the rate at which the school-age population is growing. The region with the second highest population not attending school is Central and South Asia with 85 million. The data per country is available in interactive visualizations on the VIEW website.

She will renew that call at the Transforming Education Summit, convened by the UN Secretary-General on September 19, which will bring together leaders.

The gender gap is closing

The new UNESCO estimates confirm that the gap in the rates of girls and boys out of school has closed globally. The gaps of 2.5 percentage points for children of primary school age worldwide and 3.9 percentage points for youth in upper secondary education in 2000 have been reduced to zero, but regional differences persist.

New method for more reliable numbers

Several data sources – including information from surveys and censuses – have been cross-referenced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the experts at the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report to ensure the figures reflect reality as closely as possible. It is the first time this methodology, previously used to estimate flagship health indicators, is used in education, significantly improving the robustness of the estimates.

Important data gaps have been filled in countries with high rates of early school leaving but where good quality administrative data has not been available for over a decade, such as Nigeria, where an estimated 20.2 million children and adolescents are out of school, Ethiopia (10.5 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.9 million) and Kenya (1.8 million).

With the help of UNESCO, 90% of countries have now set national benchmarks to assess progress towards quality education for all by 2030, including out-of-school numbers.

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