Education data highlights

Explore a list of useful statistics on education by theme, both globally and for GPE partner countries

Global data on why education is a good investment
Global data on the missed opportunities due to the lack of education
Data for GPE partner countries

COVID-19 and education

  • Learning losses from missed in-person schooling amounting to 2 trillion hours of lost learning.
    Source: UNICEF, 2022
  • As of March 2022, 23 countries – home to over 400 million schoolchildren – have yet to fully open schools, with many children at risk of dropping out.
    Source: UNICEF, 2022
  • On June 1st 2020, GPE doubled its COVID-19 emergency funding window to US$500 million to help lower-income countries mitigate both the immediate and long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on education.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • More than 80% of the 66 accelerated grants to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 included initiatives that targeted children with disabilities to ensure learning continuity.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • On April 1st 2020, just three weeks after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, GPE unlocked US$250 million to help 67 lower-income countries mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on education.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • On March 25, 2020, GPE provided US$8.8 million to UNICEF to kickstart education systems’ response to COVID-19 in 87 lower-income countries.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • COVID-19 education grants have provided over $35 million across GPE partner countries to help teachers adapt to new distance learning methods.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Globally, 72% of countries (146 of 204) have included teachers in one of several priority groups to be vaccinated.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.1
  • Content for remote learning was provided to teachers by 58% of all countries ranging from 81% in Europe and Northern America to just 29% in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.7
  • Globally 40% of countries trained three quarters or more of teachers on distance learning methods including various forms of ICT in 2020, ranging from 65% of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to just 8% in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.8
  • Aid to education could be reduced by as much as $2 billion by 2022.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 1)
  • 41% of lower income countries reduced their spending on education after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with an average decline in spending of 13.5%.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.4
  • Global learning losses from COVID-19 could cost this generation of students close to US$21 trillion in lifetime earnings, which far exceeds the original estimate of US$10 trillion made immediately after the pandemic outbreak and even the US$17 trillion estimated in 2021 (Azevedo et al. 2022).
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.4
  • Total global education spending over the last 10 years before COVID-19 increased steadily, from US$4 trillion in 2010 to US$4.9 trillion in 2018, and then stagnated with the onset of the pandemic.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.10
  • An estimated 24 million learners may never see the inside of a classroom again because of COVID-19, with girls, children from poor families, and children with disabilities facing the greatest risks.
    Source: UNESCO, 2020
  • 88% of low-income countries and 76% of lower-middle-income countries received development assistance to cover COVID-related costs in education (UNESCO, UNICEF, and World Bank 2020).
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P12
  • 368.5 million children across 143 countries who normally rely on school meals for a reliable source of daily nutrition must now look to other sources.
    Source: The impact of COVID-19 on children. UN Policy Brief, April 2020, p. 9
  • 20 million more secondary school girls could be out of school following the pandemic.
    Source: Malala Fund
  • Due to pandemic-related disruptions in prevention programs, 2 million cases of female genital mutilation could occur over the next decade that would otherwise have been averted.
    Source: UNFPA, April 2020
  • 13 million girls could be forced into early marriage as their parents grapple with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
    Source: World Bank, 2020
  • Before the pandemic, over 50% of the world’s children left primary school without even the most basic reading skills. An estimated 70% of children now face this harsh reality.
    Source: The World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery. 2021, P.5
  • Only 15 countries are offering distance instruction in more than one language.
    Source: The impact of COVID-19 on children. UN Policy Brief, April 2020, p. 8
  • At the peak of school closures, 1.6 billion learners were out of school, with 810 million in low-income countries.
    Source: UNESCO
  • Between 119 and 124 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic.
    Source: World Bank, 2021

Gender equality

  • One additional school year can increase a woman's earnings by 10% to 20%
    Source: World Bank, Returns to Investment in Education (2002)
  • 129.2 million girls worldwide are out of school (2018). This includes 32.3 million girls of primary school age, 29.9 million girls of lower secondary school age, and 67 million girls of upper secondary school age.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet 56, p.2, September 2019
  • Twice as many girls are on the path of gender equality in partner countries.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 69% of partner countries are at or close to gender parity in primary completion.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2021, p.36
  • 46% of GPE partner countries improved equity for girls, rural and poor children between 2010 and 2017, compared to 32% between 2010 and 2014.
    Source: GPE results report 2019, p.9

Education in crisis situations

  • Each year of education reduces the risk of conflict by around 20%.
    Source: World Bank. Doing well out of war (Paul Collier), 1999 , p. 5
  • Children in fragile, conflict-affected countries are more than twice as likely to be out of school compared with those in countries not affected by conflict; similarly, adolescents are more than two-thirds more likely to be out of school.
    Source: GEM Report, Policy Paper 21, June 2015, p.2
  • 69.4% of children completed primary school in partner countries affected by fragility and conflict in 2020 compared to 66% in 2013.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2021, p. 38
  • 62% of GPE implementation grants were allocated to partner countries affected by fragility and conflict in 2021 compared to 44% in 2012.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • In GPE countries affected by fragility and conflict, the number of girls completing school for every 100 boys rose from 74 to 88 for primary, and from 67 to 83 for lower-secondary between 2002 and 2015.
    Source: GPE estimate based on UIS data

Inclusive education

  • In 40% of partner countries, the GPE grant funds one or more activities relating to children with disabilities.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Out of 35 countries with active grants in 2018, 34 mention disability, special needs, or inclusive education in education sector analyses and plans.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Almost 40% of partner countries provide pre-service or in-service teacher training on inclusive education.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • One third of GPE partner countries plans to build new schools or renovate existing schools to make them accessible for children with disabilities.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in lower-income countries.
    Source: World Report on Disability
  • Between 93 million and 150 million children are estimated to live with disabilities.
    Source: EFA GMR 2015, p.100
  • The literacy rate for adults with disabilities is 3%. For women with disabilities the literacy rate is even lower, at 1%
    Source: UNGEI. Still left behind: Pathways to inclusive education for girls with disabilities, p.12

Early childhood education

Learning and literacy

  • 53% of 10-year-olds in low- and middle-income countries are unable to read and understand a short age-appropriate text.
    Source: World Bank. 2019
  • In 2017, the UIS estimates that more than 617 million – or six out of ten – children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age do not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet N°48, February 2018 p.12
  • 70% of partner countries with available data saw improvements in learning outcomes between 2010–15 and 2016–19.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.26
  • 89% of grants supported EMIS and/or learning assessment systems in 2020.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.6
  • The proportion of implementation grants supporting learning assessment systems increased from 67% in 2016 to 83% in 2020.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.7
  • 155.7 million textbooks have been distributed in GPE partner countries thanks to the support of GPE grants between 2016 and 2020.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.85
  • US$775 million in GPE funding was allocated to activities designed to improve learning, representing 36% of GPE implementation funding approved between 2016 and 2020.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.26
  • 78% of active implementation grants in fiscal year 2020 invested in activities related to learning assessments.
    Source: GPE results report 2021. p.26
  • The global youth literacy rate is 91%, meaning 102 million youth lack basic literacy skills.
    Source: Meeting commitments: are countries on track to achieve SDG 4? 2019, p.9
  • There are 92 literate women for every 100 literate men globally, and in low-income countries, 77 literate women for every 100 literate men.
    Source: Meeting commitments: are countries on track to achieve SDG 4? 2019 p.9
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, only 64% of primary and 50% of secondary school teachers have the minimum required training, and this proportion has been declining since 2000.
    Source: Meeting commitments: are countries on track to achieve SDG 4? 2019 p.9
  • On current trends, by 2030 more than half of all school-aged children will not master basic secondary-level skills including key competencies such as literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Learning loss due to COVID-19-related school closures may worsen this trend.
    Source: Brookings, 2019
  • More than 80% of the 617 million children and adolescents who are not learning enough to meet minimum proficiency levels come from low- and lower-middle-income countries, although these countries are home to only 60% of the global school-age population.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet N°48, February 2018 p.12
  • Globally, two-thirds of children – 68% or 262 million out of 387 million – are in school and will reach the last grade of primary but will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading. About 60% or 137 million adolescents are in school but not learning.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet 46, p.10
  • 91% of primary school-age children in low-income countries will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading and the rate is 87% in math compared to 5% and 8% respectively in high-income countries.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet 46, p.16
  • 93% of secondary school-age adolescents in low-income countries will not achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading compared to 27% in high-income countries.
    Source: UIS Fact Sheet 46, p.11
  • Low- and middle-income countries spend 2% of their GDP each year on education costs that do not lead to learning.
    Source: The Learning Generation, executive summary, p. 7
  • Approximately 1 in 4 young people in low and lower-middle income countries is illiterate.
    Source: GEM Report 2013/2014, p. 208
  • Women represent nearly two thirds of the world's illiterate (2014).
    Source: UIS

Quality teaching

  • By 2030, countries must recruit 69 million teachers to provide every child with primary and secondary education: 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers.
    Source: UIS factsheet #39, October 2016, p. 1
  • 67 million more children have access to quality teachers since 2002.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Nearly 1.6 million teachers were trained under GPE grants between FY16 and FY20
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 39% of partner countries had fewer than 40 students per trained teacher in 2020, compared to 25% in 2015.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 95% of GPE implementation grants included support to teachers in 2020, totaling US$172 million.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • More than 465,000 teachers were trained with GPE funding in FY 2019, compared to 98,000 in 2014.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Globally, 83% of primary and the same proportion of secondary teachers hold the minimum required qualifications. In primary, this proportion ranges from 98% in South-East Asia to 67% in sub-Saharan Africa, while in secondary, it ranges from 97% in Central Asia to 61% in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.4
  • The global average pupil/trained teacher ratio (PTTR) in primary education was 27:1 ranging from 56:1 in sub-Saharan Africa to 17:1 in Europe.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.5
  • Sub-Saharan Africa will need to recruit 11.2 million primary and secondary teachers by 2025 based on increasing school-age populations and replacements due to teacher attrition. This gap will widen to 15 million teachers needed by 2030.
    Source: World Teachers’ Day 2021 Fact Sheet, p.3
  • Of the 24.4 million teachers needed for universal primary education, 21 million will replace teachers who leave the workforce. The remaining 3.4 million, however, are additional teachers who are needed to expand access to school and support education quality by reducing the numbers of children in each class to a maximum of 40.
    Source: UIS factsheet #39, October 2016, p. 1
  • Teacher shortages are most acute in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of countries face shortages at primary level and 90% of countries at secondary level.
    Source: ISU, 2016
  • In one-third of all countries, less than 75% of teachers were trained according to national standards in 2013.
    Source: EFA GMR 2015, p.122
  • Countries with more female primary teachers are more likely to have higher enrollment rates for girls in secondary schools. Unfortunately, in some countries, less than 25% of primary teachers are female.
    Source: UNESCO eAtlas of Teachers

Other data by theme

  • 68% of partner countries increased their share of education expenditure or maintained it at 20% or above.
    Source: GPE results report 2021, p.6
  • Government per capita spending on education was on average nearly 150 times higher in high-income countries than in low-income countries.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.11
  • Between 2010–11 and 2018–19 government education spending as a percentage of GDP remained at 4.3% in lower-middle-income countries, and increased from 3.2 to 3.5% in low-income countries.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P4
  • In low- and middle-income countries, spending on education rose by 5.9% a year between 2009 and 2019.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P3
  • More than three quarters (76%) of global education spending stems from government, and households contributed a little less than one-quarter in 2020. But in low-income countries that share was 35%. In comparison, households in high-income countries contributed 16% of total education spending.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.11
  • Education spending in low- and lower-middle-income countries would need to increase from 3.5% to 6.3% of GDP between 2012 and 2030 to deliver universal pre-primary, primary and secondary education.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P5
  • Households in low- and lower-middle-income countries continue to bear a significant portion of education costs, accounting for 39% of the total spending in education compared to 16% in high-income countries.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.3
  • About 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries spend below international benchmarks for public education spending.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.7
  • In 2018–19, low-income countries spent approximately US$48 per school-aged child compared to US$8,501 in high-income countries.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P5
  • 77 million more children were in primary school in 2016 in GPE partner countries compared to 2002.
    Source: GPE secretariat calculations. Difference in the number of children enrolled in school between 2002 and 2016. Data from UIS.
  • 24 million more children in GPE partner countries enrolled in lower-secondary school, of which 13 million girls, in 2014 compared to 2002.
    Source: GPE estimates based on UIS data
  • GPE may account for two-thirds of the growth in aid to basic education with unspecified recipients between the 2000s and 2010s.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 4)
  • In 2020, donors contributed $881.7 million to GPE, the highest annual contribution since GPE’s inception.
    Source: GPE results report 2021, p.89
  • 71% of GPE donors increased or maintained their official development assistance for education in 2019.
    Source: GPE results report 2021, p.6
  • Only 20% of aid for education goes into low-income countries, but 70% of GPE’s financing supports children’s education in low-income countries.
    Source: GPE calculations
  • Between 2017 and 2018, total aid increased by 6% in basic education, by 7% in secondary education and by 12% in post-secondary education.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 2)
  • Aid to basic education reached US$6.5 billion in 2018, the largest amount ever recorded. Primary education accounts for about 90% of that sum ; the rest consisted of small shares to early childhood education, life skills and school feeding programs.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 4)
  • Low-income countries received 31% of total aid to basic education, a sharp increase from 2015 when that share was just 23%. Lower-middle-income countries have seen their share decrease from 46% to 33% during this period, equivalent to a decline of US$0.3 billion.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 4)
  • A large share of the increase in aid to basic education in 2018 is explained by two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which together gave US$627 million in 2018.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 4)
  • The United States, the World Bank, the United Kingdom and the European Union institutions together accounted for over 50% of total aid to basic education in 2016–2018.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 5)
  • Aid for education has increased by 21% over the last 10 years.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P10
  • Since 2014 aid to education has increased by 30% reaching its highest recorded level of US$15.9 billion in 2019.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P11
  • Since 2015, aid to basic education in low-income countries has been increasing and reached US$ 1.6 billion in 2019.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P.11
  • In low income countries, education spending increased from on average 3.48% of GDP in 2000 to 3.82% of the GDP in 2015. In lower middle-income countries, the average went up from 4% to 4.64% of GDP over the same period.
    Sources: Addressing the learning crisis: An urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children, UNICEF, January 2020, p.2
  • Overall, direct aid to education was stagnant in 2020 and fell by US$359 million in the case of bilateral donors.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.3
  • The share of education in total aid (not including aid devoted to overall budget support) fell from 11.7% in 2010 to 9.7% in 2020.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.13
  • In low-income countries, aid to education represents 18% of total education spending while in lower-middle-income countries it accounts for 2%.
    Source: Education finance watch 2021. P4
  • The share of basic and secondary education in allocable aid is 6.3% (Figure 3a). If this share were 10% and all DAC plus selected non-DAC donor countries (Brazil, China, India, Kuwait, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates) dedicated 0.7% of their GNI to ODA, then the education financing gap would be filled.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 3)
  • The top 10 bilateral donors for education have contributed 85% of total aid to education over the last 10 years. The recession in their economies (from the COVID-19 crisis) is expected to be more than twice as large as it was during the great financial crisis.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 10)
  • For instance, the United Kingdom’s GDP is expected to fall by 10.2% in 2020, which could lead to a drop of US$100 million in its total aid to education.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 10)
  • An analysis of crises prior to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 estimated that aid levels were 18% lower 5 years after and 28% lower 12 years after the start of a crisis than they would have otherwise been.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 11)
  • Prediction: In 2019, aid to education will have increased at the same rate as in 2012–2018. It will stagnate in 2020: even though the need is higher, the ability of donors to spend may be reduced. It will fall by 12% in 2020–2022, more than it did in the aftermath of the great financial crisis in 2010–2012. Finally, from 2023 onwards, it will resume its growth at the average rate of 2012–2018.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 11)
  • International student mobility, which accounts for US$3.1 billion of total aid to education, will be curtailed.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 12)
  • There is an annual external financing gap of US$39 billion to provide quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education to all children by 2030.
    Source: GEM Report Policy Paper 18, July 2015, p.1
  • The share of basic and secondary education in allocable aid is 6.3% (Figure 3a). If this share were 10% and all DAC plus selected non-DAC donor countries (Brazil, China, India, Kuwait, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates) dedicated 0.7% of their GNI to ODA, then the education financing gap would be filled.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 41 – July 2020 (p. 3)
  • Less than a quarter of aid to basic education (22%) went to low income countries in 2016, in comparison to 36% in 2002.
    Source: GEM Report Policy Paper 36, May 2018, p.5
  • Between 2016 and 2020, 78.5% of all implementation grants approved were for partner countries affected by fragility and conflict, totaling nearly $1.7 billion for these countries.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2021, p.8
  • Since 2009 GPE provided US$66.1 million for the civil society education fund, US$37.1 million for 2009-2015 and US$29 million for 2016-2018 to support 62 national civil society coalitions.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • GPE has provided 15 grants worth US$31 million for the Global and Regional Activities program to fund research, capacity development and knowledge sharing on learning, education financing and out-of-school children.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • US$5.8 billion in grants have been allocated since 2003.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 76% of children in GPE partner countries completed primary education.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2021. p.6
  • Since 2002 the number of girls completing school for every 100 boys has risen from 83 to 94 for primary, and from 86 to 91 for lower secondary in GPE partner countries.
    Source: Population-weighted averages calculated by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics on July 2016 for the 61 members of the Global Partnership for Education as of February 2016.
  • In GPE partner countries, 53% of children complete lower secondary school, compared to 38% in 2002.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2021. p.38
Last updated: July 10, 2022