Completion illustrationCompletion Rate

The completion rate is the percentage of a cohort of children aged 3–5 years above the official age at which they are supposed to complete a level of education. For example, if children are expected to reach the last grade of primary education by the age of 11, the primary completion rate is the percentage of 14- to 16-year-olds who have reached the last grade of primary school.

This reference age group (‘timely completion’) was selected to allow for the fact that in several, mainly poor, countries, children start school late and/or repeat grades frequently. In fact, in some countries, children or adolescents even in that age group may still be attending school and the eventual rate of completion (‘ultimate completion’) may therefore be underestimated.

The completion rate is one of two global indicators that monitor SDG target 4.1 on primary and secondary education, which calls on countries to ensure that ‘all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes’. The completion rate is estimated at the primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels.

It can be computed using data collected from schools, although some countries lack good information, especially at the upper secondary level. It can also be calculated using data collected from households. These household surveys can be used to disaggregate the completion rate by characteristics such as socioeconomic status. Surveys provide information on completion trends not only of the youngest generation but also older generations; such information has been underutilized.

However, survey data suffer from at least two key challenges. First, various surveys do not produce fully consistent estimates, as they draw from different samples and may have had differed during their implementation. It is therefore essential to have a method that allows the use of information from different sources to develop a consistent trend. Second, household survey data are not carried out frequently and their results are also available with a lag. it is therefore essential to have a method that allows the trend to be projected to the latest year, given that the completion rate is not an indicator that changes rapidly.

The purpose of this website is to:

  • present national, regional and global results of a statistical model that addresses these issues;
  • showcase the challenges of low and late completion many countries are facing; and
  • familiarize users with the idea behind the need for a model to estimate completion.