New Report: In Developing Nations, Poverty Most Likely Factor to Deny Children an Education


CONTACT: Mike Kelleher at

Poverty is the greatest predictor of children in developing nations being shut out of school, according to a new report by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).  The report, entitled Results for Learning: Fostering Evidence-Based Dialogue to Monitor Access and Quality in Education, states that the number of children in school has increased, yet describes continuing challenges in maintaining the quality of education and in raising the necessary financing to educate all of the world’s children.

Of all the reasons for the exclusion of an estimated 61 million primary-school aged children now out of school, poverty is the most decisive factor, often interacting powerfully with gender, according to the report.

Other main findings regarding the decade of work and impact of GPE and its partners in over 50 developing countries include:

  • More children are completing primary school in GPE countries, rising from 56 to 71 percent in the past decade.
  • Fewer children are excluded from school in these same countries, with the rate of out-of-school kids declining from 34 to 18 percent in the past 10 years.
  • While youth literacy rates have increased somewhat, particularly for young women, learning levels are still alarmingly low. In most low- and lower-middle income countries, up to 75 percent of children in grades 2 to 4 cannot read at all.
  • Developing countries have consistently increased their own funding of education, while GPE’s donors have grown their external support for these same countries; yet funding gaps still exist, exacerbated by teacher shortages and the need to expand access to secondary education.
  • Assessments of learning are not sufficiently established or used to improve quality of education plans or teacher instruction, often leading to higher costs and poorer learning results.

“The Results for Learning Report shows the progress made by countries supported by the Global Partnership for Education in helping children get in school and learn.  It also highlights the tremendous challenges ahead in providing truly universal access to education,” said GPE Head Bob Prouty.  “Too many of the most marginalized children are still being left out.  We need more financing, and we need to ensure that it supports children in poverty and areas of conflict.  We also must do much better at collecting and acting on the education data needed to help bridge the tremendous gap in learning outcomes in developing nations,” he said.

GPE developed the Results for Learning Report as a part of its monitoring and evaluation strategy to measure the progress made in helping developing nations implement their own education sector plans.  This is the first of a series of annual Results for Learning reports that will be used to determine GPE partners’ impact on children’s learning and progression.

The report compares the access and learning targets in each GPE country’s education plan to the actual results.  The Results for Learning Report uses data from developing countries’ education sector plans, “joint sector reviews” of education sector plan progress, GPE grant applications, as well as data provided by GPE partners such as UNESCO and the World Bank.

“We believe the Results for Learning Report will strengthen the dialogue among all our partners around how to accelerate progress in education and ensure that all children can claim their right to a good quality education,” said Prouty.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) works with low-income countries around the world to help them provide basic education of good quality to all of their children. Countries develop education sector plans that set clear targets and commitments; GPE’s partners--including donor governments, multilateral agencies, civil society/non-governmental organizations, and the private sector--align their support around these plans.  GPE partners have committed to provide about $2 billion to fund basic education in developing countries between 2012 and 2014.

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