The out-of-school rate is defined as the proportion of children and young people in the official age range who are not enrolled in pre-primary, primary, secondary, or higher levels of education. It is designed to show how many children or youth in each country or region should be enrolled in school but are not.
Today, there are 250 million children out of school, a rise of 6 million from the year before, largely as a result of the mass exclusion of girls from education in Afghanistan but also of slow progress around the world.
These numbers means that if you took six children at random from around the world, one of them would likely not be in school today. Not being on track with countries’ SDG 4 benchmark targets already means that 58 million who should have been in school already by now, if progress were steady, have been denied their chance to go to primary school. But we can turn progress around. We need to enrol a child every 2 seconds between now and 2030 if countries are to achieve their targets.
This website consolidates out-of-school rate information from a variety of sources in order to produce complete and more coherent estimates as is described in more detail below the graph
We invite users to explore breakdowns by region, income group, level, and sex below. Data can be explored by country as well.
How are these figures calculated?
The out-of-school rate is frequently reported in two ways. It can be expressed as:
- A percentage of the population in the official age range for a given level of education, or
- 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.
- Technical background paper
- Countries’ SDG4 benchmarks on out-of-school rates and their progress towards them in the SDG 4 Scorecard
- Brochure: SDG 4 mid-term review: progress since 2015 has been far too slow
- Policy paper: New estimation confirms out-of-school population is growing in sub-Saharan Africa
- Related content on monitoring SDG 4: Access to education