Education and Opportunity

In recent decades, a concerted effort from governments and international institutions has contributed to considerable progress in expanding educational opportunities and school-enrollment rates worldwide. But there is much more to be done, particularly with respect to improving the quality of education.

SEOUL – Education is a fundamental driver of personal, national, and global development. Since the beginning of the century, recognition of this has driven many countries to pursue the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education and eradicating gender disparities at all levels of education by 2015. This has contributed to considerable progress in expanding educational opportunities and attainment worldwide. But there is much more to be done.

To be sure, universal primary education has nearly been achieved. Moreover, considerable progress has been made toward gender equality in educational opportunities and attainment. Indeed, enrollment rates for school-age females have increased steadily at all levels, reaching near parity with male enrollment globally. As a result, the gender gap in average years of schooling for the adult population – a widely used measure of educational attainment – has narrowed.

Moreover, in 2010, for people aged 25 and above, the female-to-male ratio in average years of schooling was almost 100% in advanced countries and about 85% in developing regions. But, in many low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, girls still have far less access to education, especially at the secondary and tertiary levels, than boys do.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.