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Finance & Development
A quarterly magazine of the IMF
June 2005, Volume 42, Number 2

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Report Card on Primary Education

Children everywhere are spending more years in school than ever before but positive global trends in educational participation mask large disparities between the world´s richest and poorest countries. Despite improvements in school enrollment, school life expectancy, and gender parity, overall progress has been mixed.

In fact, the international community has a long way to go to achieve its 2015 Education for All and Millennium Development Goals for education, in particular, to attain universal primary education and promote gender equality at the primary and secondary levels. Here, we look at progress made and the factors that affect the quality of primary education.

The number of primary school-age children has grown worldwide over the past 10 years...

...and the number of children has begun to keep pace.

Primary gross enrollment ratios are on the rise...

...but completion rates are still abysmally low.

Children are spending more time in school...

...but differences in learning are dramatic.

Public spending per primary pupils varies widely among countries in absolute terms...

...but when judged relative to national wealth is strikingly similar.

Prepared by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS),Montreal, Canada. For additional education data, see the UIS website at Unless otherwise indicated, the source for all charts is the UIS.