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Universal education by 2030 difficult: 263 million youth out of school

Sourjya Bhowmick | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 6:42 IST

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the countries of the world are striving to achieve universal education by 2030. But a policy paper released in July 2016 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that we are far away from attaining the targets.

Here are some figures that show the challenges ahead:


  • The number of children, adolescents and youth (age 6-17 years) who are out of school globally, as of 2014.
  • This is equivalent to one-fourth of Europe's population.
  • "A key obstacle to achieving the target is persistent disparities in education participation, linked to sex, location and wealth, especially at the secondary level," says the report.
  • The highest number of 'out-of-school' children are at the upper secondary level.


  • Of the total number of out-of-school children, 35% hail from just 32 countries which are affected by armed conflict.
  • About 25% of out-of-school adolescents (lower secondary) and 18% of all out-of-school youth (upper secondary) live in conflict-ridden areas.


  • The number of out-of-school children (primary level) who have never attended school, and will possibly never attend school, given the challenges existing in the system.
  • Unfortunately, girls have a higher propensity to remain completely excluded from the education system than boys.


  • P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } The number of out-of-school children at the primary level in India.
  • This is twice the out-of-school population of Pakistan, and five times that of Bangladesh.
  • At the upper secondary level, India accounts for 47 million out-of-school children, which is nearly half the total population in that age group.


  • The number of out-of-school children worldwide in 2000.
  • The only ray of hope: the number has reduced in 14 years to 263 million, though the population in this age groups has increased.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 20 July 2016, 9:56 IST
Sourjya Bhowmick @sourjyabhowmick

Born and raised in Kolkata, Sourjya is all about the numbers. He uses data to contextualise stories on a broad range of topics. Formerly with the Hindustan Times and IndiaSpend, any time not spent researching and writing is spent reading non-fiction and tackling his unending collection of films. An alumnus of Presidency College, Kolkata, he has a post-grad degree in Political Science from Calcutta University and was actively involved in student politics. He's a fan of Tintin comics, Germany's football team, Mohun Bagan and Old Monk.