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.

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