The Global Education Digest 2005, published by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, presents a wide range of comparable education indicators. They can be used to assess progress towards the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals. These cross-national indicators can also be used to benchmark the performance of one’s own educational system to those in other countries.
Four out of every five of the world’s children aged between 10 and 15 are today enrolled in lower secondary education, which is now considered as part of compulsory education in most countries. This year’s edition of the Digest also features a special chapter on trends in participation and gender parity in secondary education.
The Digest shows that secondary education is expanding rapidly worldwide, with enrolments increasing from 321 million in 1990 to 492 million in 2002/03. The fastest growth has occurred in South America which, along with Europe, now enjoys the world’s highest gross enrolment ratios at this level, at almost 100 percent. North America, East Asia and Oceania follow with enrolment ratios of over 90 percent. The figures drop sharply for West Asia, where lower secondary pupils represent 69 percent of the school-age population. It drops further still for Africa where, although enrolments at secondary level having been increasing by five percent annually since 1998, the lower secondary ratio is still only 45 percent.