Out-of-School Rate

The out-of-school rate is defined as the proportion of children and young people in the official age range for the given level of education who are not enrolled in pre-primary, primary, secondary, or higher levels of education. This indicator is designed to quantify the youth population within a country or region that are scheduled to be enrolled in school but are instead completely removed from the education system.

The out-of-school rate is frequently reported in two ways. It can be expressed as:

  1. A percentage of the population in the official age range for a given level of education, or
  2. The total number of children and young people out-of-school.

Computing the out-of-school rate relies on the use of administrative data capturing student enrollment by age and sex, collected and disseminated by Ministries of Education. As a direct source, these data should in theory provide a ‘gold standard’ for estimating the out-of-school rate and other enrollment indicators. However, there are challenges involved with this type of data. Many countries do not currently have the data infrastructure necessary to produce complete and reliable enrollment counts. Secondly, population estimates must be sourced separately from administrative enrollment counts resulting in inconsistencies.

Alternatively, survey data can be used to compute the out-of-school rate. Household surveys typically include questions regarding the attendance status of children and young people in the household. However, survey data have their own set of challenges. Survey providers have distinct approaches and samples, creating the possibility of inconsistencies. Household surveys are also infrequent and thus require methods that can produce estimates in between waves.

The distinct challenges faced by the two sources of data necessitate approaches that can consolidate out-of-school rate information from a variety of sources and produce complete and coherent estimates. To fulfill this need, the UIS and the GEM Report have developed a statistical model to estimate out-of-school rates. The purpose of this website is to present national, regional, and global estimates of out-of-school rates and numbers and explain the thinking behind the decisions made to address the challenges in modelling this specific indicator.

To begin, we highlight below the progress in reducing the number of children and young people out-of-school over the past two decades, although it is notable that the rate of decrease has slowed substantially in recent years. We invite users to explore the breakdown of the total number by region, income group, level, and sex below. Data can be explored by country as well to explore the estimates and methodology in more detail.

Download technical background paper

Download policy paper: New estimation confirms out-of-school population is growing in sub-Saharan Africa