Education data highlights

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

COVID-19 and education

  • At the peak of school closures, 1.6 billion learners were out of school, with 810 million in low-income countries.
    Source: UNESCO
  • Learning losses from missed in-person schooling amounting to 2 trillion hours of lost learning.
    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
  • 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
  • School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to reduce the learning-adjusted years of education across developing regions by roughly a third to a full year.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.2
  • The global learning loss is equivalent to 0.7 year of lost learning, which could translate into an annual reduction of 6.5% in the future earnings of current students once engaged in a job, as a result of lower productivity due to fewer cognitive skills. This reduction in earnings prospects could contract national income growth by 2.2% each year of working life (45 years on average) of the generation hit by the pandemic.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.2
  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 6 out of 10 students in low and middle-income countries could not read and understand simple texts by age 10. Now, 7 out of 10 cannot read (due to the impact of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic).
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.18
  • Without adequate remediation, learning loss will likely translate into a huge negative impact on the global economy - up to a 0.68 percentage point reduction of GDP growth.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.18
  • 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
  • 13 million girls could be forced into early marriage as their parents grapple with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
    Source: World Bank, 2020

Gender equality

Education in crisis situations

  • An estimated 222 million crisis-affected children and adolescents are in need of education support, with 78 million out of school.
    Source: Education Cannot Wait, 2022
  • 1 in 3 children and young people living in countries affected by conflict or disaster are not in school.
    Source: UNICEF, 2018
  • 74% of children completed primary school in partner countries affected by fragility and conflict in 2021 compared to 66% in 2013. 52% of children completed lower secondary school in these countries in 2021.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2023, p.89
  • 63% of GPE implementation grants were allocated to partner countries affected by fragility and conflict in 2021 compared to 44% in 2012.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 106 million more children enrolled in school in partner countries affected by fragility and conflict since 2002.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 163 million children were supported by GPE in partner countries affected by fragility and conflict since fiscal year 2022.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2023, p.73
  • 52% of GPE funding have been spent in partner countries affected by fragility and conflict.
    Source: GPE Results Report 2022, p.136
  • As of August 2023, GPE has invested $1.1 billion to strengthen education systems in 17 countries where refugees have access to school.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Since 2013, 68 GPE partner countries have accessed a total of US$857 million to mitigate the impact of crises on children’s education, including natural disasters, armed conflict, forced displacement, and health emergencies.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 34 GPE partner countries are affected by fragility or conflict in fiscal year 2023.
    Source: List of GPE partner countries affected by fragility and conflict
  • GPE partner countries are home to almost 4 million refugee children, about 45% of the world’s refugee children population.
    Source: UNHCR and GPE data as of 2016. UNHCR data only accounts for refugees for whom demographic data is available.
  • If the enrollment rate for secondary schooling is 10 percentage points higher than the average, the risk of war is reduced by about 3 percentage points (a decline in the risk from 11.5% to 8.6%).
    Source: World Bank. Understanding Civil War, 2005 , p. 16
  • 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
  • Education is one of the least funded humanitarian areas, receiving just 3% of global humanitarian financing in 2021.
    Source: Geneva Global Hub for Education In Emergencies, 2022
  • Nearly 40 million children a year have their education interrupted by disasters and subsequent disease outbreaks following extreme weather events.
    Source: Theirworld, 2018
  • In 2021, an estimated 449 million children – or 1 in 6 – were living in conflict zones.
    Source: Save the Children, 2022
  • Children account for 30 % of the world’s population, but 40 % of all forcibly displaced people.
    Source: UNHCR, 2022
  • Close to half of all refugee children – 48 % – remain out of school. Gross enrollment rates for the 2020- 21 school year stood at 42% for pre-primary, 68% for primary, and 37% for secondary.
    Source: UNHCR, 2022
  • Just 5 % of refugee students are currently enrolled in university.
    Source: UNHCR
  • The average annual cost of educating refugees is less than 5% of public education expenditure in developing nations hosting 85% of the world’s refugees
    Source: World Bank and UNHCR. The Global Cost and Inclusive Refugee Education, 2021
  • Developing regions hosted 92% of the world’s school-age refugees in 2017.
    Source: UNHCR. Turn the tide: refugee education in crisis (2018), p.14
  • An estimated 128 million primary and secondary-aged children are out of school in crisis-affected countries, including 67 million girls.
    Source: Plan International, Left Out, Left Behind: Adolescent girls’ secondary education in crises, Plan International, UK, 2019, p.30
  • There were more than 5,000 incidents of attacks on education and cases of military use of schools between January 2020 and December 2021.
    Source: GCPEA Education under attack, 2022, p.11
  • In the past five years, funding requests for education in emergencies have increased by 21%.
    Source: GEM Report, Policy Paper 31, p.7, 2017
  • At the end of 2022, 108 million people were forcibly displaced due to conflict, persecution or natural disasters.
    Source: UNHCR, 2022
  • At the end of 2022, an estimated 23.3 million refugees (67%) were living in exile for at least five consecutive years in host countries.
    Source: UNHCR, 2023. 2022 Global Trends Report
  • School enrollment rates for girls living in forced displacement are far below national rates.
    Source: INEE, 2021
  • 20 years on average: length of forced displacement due to crises and conflicts.
    Source: UNHCR, 2016, Global trends – Forced displacement in 2015, p.20

Inclusive education

  • During 2016-2020, $46 million in implementation grant funding supported inclusive education for children with disabilities in 42 partner countries.
    Source: GPE results report 2021
  • In 2020, GPE offered 66 accelerated grants to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 80% of them included initiatives that target children with disabilities to ensure learning continuity, such as accessible remote lessons, print materials in Braille, assistive devices and the promotion of supplementary support programs.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 67% of partner countries reported key education statistics disaggregated by children with disabilities.
    Source: GPE results report 2022, p.7
  • In 2022, 62,163 children with disabilities were supported through 17 grants that reported these data.
    Source: GPE results report 2022, p.72
  • Globally, the share of schools with adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities increased at all levels of education, and most significantly in upper secondary from 46% in 2015 to 56% in 2020.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.8
  • 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
  • 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, 2017. p.12

Early childhood education

Learning and literacy

  • 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
  • $328 million were invested in activities to improve learning in FY 2022.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 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
  • 56 million textbooks have been distributed in GPE partner countries thanks to the support of GPE grants in fiscal year 2022.
    Source: GPE results report 2022. p.71
  • 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
  • 74% of active implementation grants in fiscal year 2022 invested in activities related to learning assessments.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 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
  • One additional year of schooling increases earnings by 10%, which is greater than stock market returns. In almost every country and at all levels of schooling, returns to education are higher for women (10%) than for men (8%).
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.4
  • A change of 1% in learning is associated with a change of 7.2% in annual growth.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.4
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the youth literacy rate has increased from 66% in 2000 to 77.5% in 2020.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.7
  • In Central and Southern Asia, the youth literacy rate increased from 87% in 2000 to 91% in 2015 but has only increased by 0.8 percentage points since then.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.7
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, although 80% of primary-aged children are enrolled in school, only 62% graduate on time.
    Source: The sustainable development goals report 2023. p.20
  • Globally, the percentage of children one year younger than the official primary entry age who participate in organized learning programs, has remained stable at about 75% between 2015 and 2020.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.4
  • Of the 31 low- and lower-middle-income countries for which there are data since 2019, only Vietnam has a majority of children achieving minimum proficiency in both reading and mathematics at the end of primary school. By contrast, in 18 of these countries, fewer than 10% of children are reaching minimum proficiency in reading and/or in mathematics.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.2
  • Only 14 countries representing 15% of the school-age population in Africa have at least two data points on minimum learning proficiency that would allow the long-term trend to be estimated.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.43
  • Since 2015, only 19 countries in reading and 18 countries in mathematics have reported data from school surveys.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.43
  • According to household survey data, the proportion of grade 2 students with foundational reading skills is near zero in many countries.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.43
  • In 16 out of 22 sub-Saharan countries, at most one third of students are taught in the language they speak outside of school.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.79
  • PASEC and SACMEQ data found that having their own textbook can increase a child’s literacy scores by up to 20%.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.79
  • In 10 out of 14 participating francophone countries in PASEC 2019, reading scores of students with a female head teacher were significantly better than those of students with a male head teacher.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.115
  • 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
  • The number of illiterate youth fell from 107 million in 2015 to 99 million in 2020, of which 36 million were in Central and Southern Asia and 49 million were in sub-Saharan Africa. Women are 56% of all illiterate youth.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.7
  • 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
  • 771 million adults lack basic literacy skills (women account for two thirds).
    Source: UIS
  • Almost one in four youth in sub-Saharan Africa are illiterate.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.8

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 students have access to professionally trained teachers in GPE partner countries since 2002.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Nearly 481,000 teachers were trained under GPE grants in partner countries in FY 2023.
    Source: GPE 2023 Results Report, p.10
  • Across GPE partner countries, 81% of primary teachers and 71% of lower secondary teachers have the required minimum qualifications. Even with minimum qualifications, many teachers’ pedagogical and content knowledge is low.
    Source: GPE 2023 Results Report, p.17
  • 91% of GPE implementation grants active in FY22 included support for teachers and teaching-related activities, such as in-service training, pre-service training, teacher coaching and mentoring, teacher management, and teaching tools such as teachers’ guides and other pedagogical resources. This amounts to a combined total of more than $528 million.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • Training on distance learning methods reached more than 722,000 teachers through 38 COVID grants and close to 400,000 teachers received training on accelerated programs.
    Source: GPE 2023 Results Report, p.70
  • Globally, by 2020, 86% of all teachers in primary and around 84% in secondary education had met the minimum qualifications to practice. However, there are substantial differences between countries.
    Source: 2022 UNESCO Teacher Task Force, p.19
  • Teaching according to learning level with technology support for one year can improve learning by 0.27 standard deviation, which has the potential to increase students’ future earnings by 5.5% while yielding US$1,724 in future benefits per beneficiary at a student cost per year of US$26.6.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.20
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications – or, more specifically, who have received at least the minimum organized pedagogical teacher training pre-service and in-service – at the pre-primary level increased from 53% in 2015 to 60% in 2020.
    Source: 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. p.9
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest percentages of trained teachers in pre-primary (60%), primary (69%) and secondary education (61%) among all regions.
    Source: The sustainable development goals report 2023. p.21
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 16.5 million additional teachers are needed to achieve SDG 4: 5.4 million at primary level and 11.1 million at secondary. This includes new teaching posts required by education expansion as well as replacements needed due to teacher attrition.
    Source: 2022 UNESCO Teacher Task Force, p.5
  • On average, there are 56 students per trained teacher in sub-Saharan Africa and 40 students per trained teacher in South Asia.
    Sources: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO, p.101 and UIS 2020
  • 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

Domestic financing

  • 71% of partner countries increased their share of education expenditure or maintained it at 20% or above.
    Source: GPE results report 2022, p.7
  • GPE partner countries (43 with data) allocated 18.6% of their budget for education in 2021.
    Source: GPE Secretariat
  • 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
  • Governmental spending on education as a percentage of GDP fell from 76% of countries reviewed in July 2022 to just 66% in July 2023.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.3
  • The global total real expenditure on education, combining spending by governments, official development assistance, and households, inched upwards in 2021 to US$5.4 trillion after two consecutive years at US$5.3 trillion.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.6
  • The annual average total budget in sub-Saharan African countries is expected to increase from 3.4% of GDP in 2023 to 4% by 2027 and 4.6% by 2030.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 49. June 2023. p.7
  • Government resources remain the main education funding source in all country income groups. More than three-quarters (78%) of global education spending in 2021 stemmed from government spending net of official development assistance contributions, which increased by 2% from 2020 in real terms.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.6
  • In low-income countries, government education spending as a share of GDP has increased steadily since 2018 (3.2%), reaching an average of 3.6% in 2021.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.8
  • In most decentralized countries, subnational governments account for over 50% of total public education spending.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.23
  • 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
  • It is estimated that global education expenditure is over US$5 trillion. Public expenditure on education is significant; on average, countries spend about 4.5% to 5% of GDP on education, except for low-income countries.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.19
  • Public education expenditure has remained constant at about 4.2% of GDP but the proportion of lower-income countries either in or at high risk of debt distress rose from 27% to 58%.
    Source: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. 2023, p.2
  • Aid to education increased from $13.7 billion to $17.8 billion but decreased by 7% from 2020 to 2021, while the share of aid allocated to education in aid budgets reached its lowest point since 2015, with only 9.8% dedicated to the sector in 2021.
    Source: SDG 4 mid-term progress review. 2023, p.2
  • To achieve national SDG 4 benchmarks, 79 low- and lower-middle income countries still face an average annual financing gap of $97 billion.
    Source: The sustainable development goals report 2023. p.20
  • The cost of achieving universal pre-primary, primary and secondary education by 2030 in low- and lower-middle-income countries would cost a cumulative $5.1 trillion, equivalent to about $340 billion per year from 2015 to 2030.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 49. June 2023. p.1
  • Sub-Saharan African countries account for the largest share of the financing gap: $70 billion per year on average.
    Source: GEMR Policy Paper 49. June 2023. p.7
  • One in three countries spend less than 4% of their GDP and less than 15% of their budget on education.
    Source: Education Finance Watch 2022. World Bank, GEMR, UIS. p.3
  • Three-fifths of education resources in low-income and lower middle-income countries come from domestic public expenditure, primarily supplemented by private household expenditures.
    Source: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education financing, May 2020
  • Families spend significant portions of their funds on education; more than 1/3 of total education spending in low- and lower-middle-income countries is from households.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.3
  • Despite the proportional increase in low-income countries government spending on education, official development assistance for education continues to be important in low-income countries, accounting for 13% of the total.
    Source: Education finance watch 2023. p.6
  • 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 sub-Saharan Africa, households account for 38% of total education spending, ranging from less than 5% in Ethiopia, Lesotho and Sao Tome and Principe to more than 67% in Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.
    Source: UNESCO. 2022. Spotlight Report on Basic Education Completion and Foundational Learning in Africa, Paris, UNESCO. p.145
  • 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