New UNESCO figures show 244 million children are out of school 

Paris, August 31, 2022 (PPI-OT):According to new UNESCO figures, estimated using a new and improved methodology, 244 million children and youth between the ages of 6 and 18 worldwide are still out of school. As the new school year begins in many parts of the world, UNESCO shares this new data, offering a more accurate analysis of the available evidence.

A comprehensive measurement

The new methodology, which combines multiple data sources, has been used in the past to estimate flagship health indicators, such as maternal and infant mortality rates. This is the first time it has been used in education, marking a significant improvement to the robustness of the estimates.

“Global out of school numbers are lower than we thought, but far too many children are still missing out. Countries have committed to benchmarks to slash out-of-school numbers by over half by 2030. We must identify solutions during the Transforming Education Summit called by the United Nations Secretary-General this September so that countries can deliver on these pledges. All children should have access to quality education” added Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant-Director General for Education.

Out-of-school numbers in sub-Saharan Africa continue to rise

The new estimates, published online by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, show that sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the most children and youth out of school with 98 million children and young people excluded from education. It is also the only region where this number is increasing; out-of-school rates are falling more slowly than the rate at which the school-age population is growing. The region with the second highest out-of-school population is Central and Southern Asia with 85 million. The top three countries with the most children and youth excluded from education are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

“UNESCO has long underscored the need to make more efficient use of the data we have. That’s why we’ve brought together administrative data with information from surveys and censuses. By using multiple data sources, gaps are filled, data trends are smoothed, and we can draw consistent time series,” said Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

A more complete picture

Important data gaps have been filled in countries that have large out of school numbers but where no administrative data of good quality has been available for over a decade, such as Nigeria which has an estimated 20 million children and youth out of school, Ethiopia (10.5 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (5.9 million) and Kenya (1.8 million).

“With UNESCO’s help, 90% of countries have now set national SDG 4 benchmarks for 2025 and 2030, including on out-of-school rates. We must step up our support for those who are being deprived of their opportunities, keeping a watchful eye on those who have struggled on their return after COVID-related school closures,” said Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report.

The pandemic disrupted education management information

The estimation process incorporates the latest country data in 2021 to be released by the UIS on September 13. A preliminary assessment suggests that while primary and lower secondary education enrolment have not been affected, there might be some impact on upper secondary enrolment. More information is needed in the coming year to assess the impact.

The gender gap is closing

The new estimates confirm that the difference in the rate of girls and boys out of school has been considerably reduced. Globally, the gaps of 2.5 percentage points among primary school age children and of 3.9 percentage points among upper secondary school age youth in 2000 have been reduced to zero.

The data per country is available in interactive visualisations on the website (

For more information, contact:
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Islamabad, Pakistan
UAN: +92-51-111-710-745
FAX: +92-51-2600250
UNESCO Office, Serena Business Complex,
7th Floor, Sector G-5, Islamabad