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The State of Girls' Education

September 1, 2011

The state of girls' education today has improved significantly over the past decade. However, girls continue to lag behind their male counterparts in many areas of the world, in terms of access to education, completion of schooling, and acquisition of basic skills such as literacy.

Out-of-School Children

  • In 1999, around 106 million children were out of primary school. Almost 61 million (58%) were girls compared to 45 million (42%) boys.
  • In 2009, around 35 million girls were still out of school compared to 31 million boys.
  • Although the gap in gender parity has decreased substantially, there are still many more girls out of primary school than boys.

Girls Out of School in Africa and South Asia

  • Almost ½ of the world’s out of school girls are in SSA. Around ¼ are in South Asia.
  • In South Asia, the region’s total number of out-of-school girls dropped from 23 million girls to 9.5 million since 1999.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of out-of-school girls has decreased more slowly, from 25 million in 1999 to 17 million in 2008.

Primary Completion Rates

  • Globally, the gender gap has been gradually shrinking since 1999.
  • In Latin America and East Asia, girls have reached parity with boys, however more boys complete primary school than girls in all other regions.

Youth Literacy Rates

  • Globally, there is still a large gender gap in youth literacy rates, although the gap has been shrinking over time.
  • Still, the data seem to show that fewer girls are emerging from education systems with basic literacy skills than boys.