• One in five children, adolescents and youth worldwide are out of school – a figure that has barely changed over the past five years (UNESCO).
  • Youth literacy rates have improved from 83% to 91% over two decades (UNICEF).
  • Western and Southern Asia has the lion’s share of illiterate people aged 15 years and older, accounting for 52% of 774 million illiterate people (UNESCO).
  • Sudan ranks lowest of sub-Saharan Africa with a literacy rate of 27%, followed by Afghanistan (28.1%), Niger (28.7%), Mali (33.4%), Chad (35.4%), Ethiopia (39%) and Guinea (41%).
  • 493 million women are illiterate, representing two-thirds of the entire illiterate population in 2013.
  • In one of three countries, less than three quarters of teachers are trained to national standards, resulting in 130 million children enrolled in schools who are not even learning the basics (Global Citizen).
  • UIS data shows that 750 million adults, two-thirds of which are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO).
  • A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5 (Global Citizen).
  • Worldwide, there are more than 150 million children aged 3 to 5 who do not have access to pre-primary education, including more than 80% of children in low-income countries (GEM Report Policy Paper)
  • For every 100 boys of primary school age out of school, there are 123 girls denied the right to education (UNESCO).

Education Overview

Education Costs

Although education is a basic human right, having uninterrupted access to education remains a challenge for millions of people. Cost barriers such as school fees, textbooks, and uniforms make it difficult for disadvantaged students to have complete access to education.

For those who live in developing nations, cost factors are the leading reason for low education completion rates.  

  • Education costs, on average, US$1.25 a day per child in developing countries (Education for All Monitoring Report). 
  • In 2016, the lowest average total expenditure on education, as a proportion of government spending was Greece, at 6% (OECD). 
  • In the US, the average family spends $685 on their child’s back-to-school necessities from kindergarten through to secondary school, an increase of nearly $250 from 2005 (BBC). 
  • Hong Kong is the most expensive place to go to school, where parents contribute an average of $131,161 to their child’s schooling (BBC). 
  • Norway, Finland and Iceland are a few of the countries where university study is available free of charge to all students (Top Universities). 
  • Only 1% of all early childhood development aid funding goes to pre-primary education (Just Beginning: Addressing Inequality in Donor Funding for Early Childhood Development, 2018)
  • 22% of aid to basic education went to low income countries in 2016, in comparison to 36% in 2002 (GEM Report Policy Paper).

Challenges In Education

Increasing education can improve the overall health and longevity of a population, aid the growth of economies, and boost the overall quality of life for many. The biggest challenge is providing equal access to education for all. 

  • Funding for education is lacking: according to Global Partnership for Education, less than 20% of aid for education goes to low-income countries (Global Citizen).
  • Inappropriate educational environment: the average first grade classroom in Malawi has 130 children (Global Citizen). Contrast this to Iceland where the average number of children per classroom in first grade is 18.4 (OECD).
  • Not enough teachers: the United Nation estimates that 69 million new teachers (24.4 million primary school teachers + 44.4 million secondary school teachers) are required to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030 (The Guardian).
  • Conflict-affected situations, insecurity and instability act as one of the largest barriers to children receiving a quality primary education (World Bank Development Report). 
  • Less than 5% of children have access to pre-primary school in some countries affected by conflict (GEM Report: Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all, 2016)

Offline and Online Education

An increasing number of teachers and students are choosing to take advantage of the flexibility and practicality of online learning. This has been made possible with technology and accessibility to fast internet. One of the primary advantages of online learning is that it can be done anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. 

  • One of the greatest benefits to online learning is the increased interaction and group learning with peers online (The University of Melbourne).
  • The worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion in 2025 (Global News Wire).
  • Online courses make up $46 billion of the overall e-learning market (Statista).
  • One of the biggest reasons why e-learning is becoming so popular is because work fields are constantly changing and evolving (Podia).

Impact of online education

Technology is changing the relationship held between teacher and student where teaching and learning has moved away from traditional platforms to a digital experience. Before e-learning, students had limited contact hours with educators. 

Online learning platforms have lead to greater interactivity in classrooms. Where students used to rely on offline methods of collaboration, online connectivity has supplemented their learning and has increased the overall interaction and opportunities for collaboration.

  • Technology could be the solution to inaccessible education, especially for children in developing countries (UNESCO).
  • 46% percent of students in grades 9–12 who responded to Project Tomorrow’s 2015 survey reported that they were using online textbooks, compared with 30% in 2005 (National Science Board).
  • 64% of Australian schools are implementing more online resources into teaching and learning (Pearson).
  • 48% of educators have a strong interest in professional development using digital learning to increase student engagement and achievement (Pearson).

Factors impacting education

There are many factors that impact the access to education: the quality and the type of education offered to students. In some countries, socio-economic factors such as poverty and gender inequality limit access to education. 

  • In developing, low-income countries, every additional year of education can increase a child’s future income by an average of 10% (Paw Research Centre). 
  • 75 million children aged 3 to 18 live in countries facing war and violence. This demographic is in most need of educational support (Global Partnership).
  • If all women received primary education, there would be 1.7 million fewer malnourished children (Global Citizen). 
  • Globally, 9 in 10 girls complete their primary education but only 3 in 4 complete their lower secondary levels (Global Partnership).
  • Malnourished and stunted children are 19% less likely to be able to read by the age of 8 (Global Citizen). 
  • As a result of poverty and marginalisation, more than 27 million children around the world remain unschooled (Humanium).

Education in Australia

Australia’s educational system is a dynamic and growing service market. Having ranked as the 3rd largest provider of education to international students in 2016, the following years have seen education stay as a prominent issue for Australia.

  • 66.7% Australians aged between 20 and 64 years had attained a non-school qualification.
  • From 2008 to 2018, the percentage of the Australian population who had received a school qualification increased from 59.2% to 66.7% (ABS).
  • The average cost of an undergraduate bachelor’s degree is between $15,000 and $33,000 per year (Studies in Australia).
  • In Australia, mindfulness and mental health programs are likely to become a regular fixture in many Australian classrooms (SMH).
  • In 2018, almost one fifth of Australians aged between 15 and 64 were studying (ABS).
  • The most popular field of study for a non-school qualification was society and culture (22.0%), followed by management and commerce (20.5%) and health (14.9%) (ABS).