Global education:
A selection of key charts and trends

Part 2 of 7

Progress in the expansion of schooling

Historical estimates suggest that 200 years ago around 83% of the world population older than 15 years had no formal education at all.

Today these ratios have swapped: only 14% of today's world population has no formal education at all.

This map shows the estimates of the average years of schooling in the world in 1870.

If you press 'play', in the bottom left corner, you'll see the evolution of the same variable, from 1870 to 2010.

In 2010 we see a completely different picture.

(Note: It is also possible to click on any country to see the change over time.)

This chart shows the same data as the previous map, but in a time-series perspective over these 140 years.

While in 1870 there were just a few countries in which the average person had more than 4 years of education, today there are few countries in which the population has less education than that.

(Note: You can explore trends by country using the option "Change country" in this interactive chart; and you can also toggle the option "Relative" to show total poverty headcount figures.).

Women in particular benefitted from the large expansion of education over the last decades.

This chart shows the female-to-male ratio of average years of education.

In 'Advanced Economies', in 1870, women received only 0.75 years of education for every year of education that men received. By 2010 this gap was closed in these countries.

Across the world, gender gaps in years of schooling have narrowed. In some regions the gap has even reversed.

These improvements have been possible as public funding for education increased immensely – in absolute terms, but also as a share of GDP as shown here.

Primary education

This map shows the estimates for the enrollment in primary school two centuries ago.

In most countries almost no child was enrolled in school. And even in the best-off countries the majority of children did not attend primary education.

By pressing 'play' you can see the change since then.

In recent decades the world has made progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children.

From a peak of 112 million out-of-school children worldwide in 1997, the number almost halved to 60 million children.

By clicking on the relative button it can be seen that more than every second out-of-school child lives in Africa.

In the most recent data we see that in all countries (for which data is available) the majority of children at primary education age are actually enrolled in school.

Some countries in central Africa and Asia have low enrollment rates, between 50% and 80%.

In 1970 the gender gap in primary education was very large in some African and Asian countries, as you see in this map.

If you move the slider to show more recent estimates, you see that today the gender gap in primary education is very small in most countries. Exceptions are central African and Asian countries.

Tertiary education

While primary education is becoming universal in many world regions, the change for higher education happens much more slowly.

If you move the slider to show more recent estimates, you see that in some countries between 10% and 30% of the population have tertiary education.

In many African, Asian, and Latin American countries the share of the population that completed tertiary education is lower than 5%.

Enrollment in tertiary education is increasing in all world regions, but in some regions only very slowly.

The share in North America is 10-fold higher than in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The school life expectancy is the number of years a person of school entrance age can expect to spend in the education system.

In Australia children can expect to stay in the education system for more than 20 years – in Niger children can expect to stay 5 years.

There are large differences between countries in who is operating the tertiary education institutions.

In countries shown in dark green – the UK, South Korea, Chile, among others – more than 80% of tertiary education students are enrolled in private institutions.

Early childhood education

Data on the duration of compulsory education is sparse.

The European Commision gives this overview on the situation in Europe (source).

This table shows that in some countries early-childhood education is counted as full-time compulsory education.

The duration of pre-primary education varies between 2 and 4 years.
Successor states of the USSR tend to have a long pre-primary education of 4 years.

In most countries children enter pre-primary education at the age of 4.

The number of children enrolled in pre-primary education increased from 29 million in 1973 to 133 million in 2014.
A 4.6-fold increase.

Enrollment ratios vary substantially between world regions.

Northern America and Europe had rates around 50% for several decades. Latin-America and East Asia & Pacific saw a rapid increase and have caught up with North America.

The Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia stayed at rates between 10% and 15% until the end of the last century and saw increases only in the recent past.

The map gives a country-by-country view of the enrollment in pre-primary education.

By adjusting the time-slider underneath the map it is possible to see changes over time.

As can be seen, the data is patchy, psrticularly before 1990.

In countries shown in dark green more than 80% of pre-primary education students are enrolled in private institutions.

This map shows differences in government expenditures. The fact that richer countries tend to spend a higher share of GDP on pre-primary education means that the differences in absolute spending are even larger.

Other resources from Our World in Data

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