Global Education Monitoring Report

Target 4.5: Equity

By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

Chapter 12 PDF

CREDIT: Mats Lignell/Save the Children. Masum,* a 12-year-old, came to Dhaka, Bangladesh, on his own two months ago.

Key Messages

  • While there is gender parity in enrolment globally, on average, up to secondary education, only 49% of countries had achieved parity at the lower secondary education level and only 24% in upper secondary. This is mainly due to enrolment disparities at the expense of boys in many countries.
  • Considerable disparities exist in completion rates by location and wealth. But cross-categorizing cases by multiple dimensions (e.g. poor rural girls) often results in small sample sizes, which leads to greater imprecision in estimates for these groups.
  • Rural students have half the chance of their urban peers to complete upper secondary in low and middle income countries. But new data suggesting that more than 80% of the population in Africa and Asia live in urban areas could mean urban-rural education inequalities are even higher.
  • At least 800 million people live in slums worldwide. The little data that exist tend to show that education indicators in slums are poor. The out-of-school rate of primary school age children and secondary school age adolescents in Bangladesh was twice as high in slums as in other urban areas.
  • New UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys data on disability showed that among children aged 5 to 17 in Sierra Leone, 0.2% had difficulty seeing and 0.2% had difficulty hearing. Other functional difficulties varied considerably by age, making the data difficult to interpret.
  • Empowering refugees with disabilities to exercise their voice and including them in mainstream programme design are essential to ensure their inclusion in education.

On average, there is gender parity in enrolment globally in primary and secondary education. However, the average masks continuing disparities at the individual country level. In 2016, 54% of countries had achieved parity in lower secondary education enrolment and 22% in upper secondary. Moreover, not all countries that achieve parity maintain it.

Considerable disparity exists in completion rates by location and wealth. Rural students have typically only around half the chance of their urban peers of completing upper secondary education in low and middle income countries (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Many countries remain far from achieving location and wealth parity in school completion, especially in secondary education

Low comparability hampers measurement of location-based disparity: Share of labour engaged in agriculture, population size, population density, idiosyncratic national criteria or any combination thereof may determine ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ location classification across countries.

In support of monitoring the SDGs, following the 2016 UN Habitat III conference in Quito, a global, people-based definition of cities and settlements is being developed for endorsement in 2019. It compares administrative classifications with remote sensing data and census information. Strikingly, whereas national definitions suggest that less than half the population of Africa and Asia lives in urban areas, 2018 estimates suggest that over 80% do. Current estimates of rural education outcomes may include many locales that are de facto urban, masking the situation of truly rural areas.

Rural students have only around half the chance of their urban peers of completing upper secondary education in low and middle income countries

Previous year’s Target 4.5