Global education:
A selection of key charts and trends

Part 7 of 7

Missing data and statistics on education

In the last century the world has made huge progress in terms of expanding the quantity of education.

This chart shows historical primary school enrollment rates.

This chart shows progress in average years of schooling.

And still, despite these important achievements, there are huge remaining gaps in learning.

This bar chart shows that in some countries going to school does not necessarily mean that the students actually learn.

In Ghana, India, and Malawi more than 4 out of 5 students in second grade are not able to read a single word.

Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) explicitly target learning.

The goal 4.1 says: "By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes".

This map shows the official report on one of the associated target indicators: the percentage of pupils at end of primary education achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in mathematics.

As can be seen, data is available only for a minority of countries.

And, as the subtitle in the chart notes, even in countries with available data there are issues with comparability.

This chart shows minimum proficiency in reading at the end of primary. Again, coverage is low and comparability is weak.

You can explore reading and maths proficiency data across different education levels in these related set of maps. In all of them, the same data limitations emerge.

–Reading proficiency in early primary education

–Math proficiency in early primary education

–Reading proficiency at end of lower secondary

–Math proficiency at end of lower secondary

The underlying problem is that nationally representative tests simply don’t exist in many countries.

This map shows the countries where, according to UNICEF, nationally representative learning assessment exist.

....and the situation is not much better when it comes to learning assessments earlier in primary.

For comparison, this map shows availability of primary school enrolment data. In this case coverage is much higher.

On the whole, how are we doing in terms of tracking the education SDG 4 indicators?

This chart shows what share of indicators are being reported by what share of countries.

As can be seen, only about 30% of the indicators have data for more than half of the countries in the world.

This table shows where the necessary data should come from in order to measure all SDG 4 indicators.

Improving the assessment of learning outcomes is crucial to track the education SDGs, but we should not forget that many other sources of data are also important.

Other resources from Our World in Data

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