What Works in Girls' Education

Factsheet 2

Glass Half Full: Crisis Amid Progress

Photo Credit: Malin Fezhai / HUMAN for the Malala Fund

The story of girls' education in 2015 — the final year of the Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals — is a story of both immense progress and a still devastating crisis. Progress has been achieved especially in terms of girls' access to schooling: Since 2000, the number of out-of-school girls has been nearly cut in half and women and girls are spending more time in school than ever before, an average of 7 years.

But even with the enormous progress that has been achieved, the state of girls’ education remains nothing less than a crisis, with millions of the world’s most marginalized girls still unable to access and complete a full course of schooling, millions more who are in school but not learning at even basic levels, and millions whose education is disrupted by violence and humanitarian crises.

These six lenses show where the crisis in girls' education remains.

Getting into School

130 million

There are more than 130 million girls who should be in primary and lower secondary school but are not.

Staying in School

Chart showing difference between girls who finish secondary school and girls that finish primary school in Sub-Saharan AfricaCaption for the Chart

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 75 percent of girls start primary school but only 8 percent finish secondary school.

Learning in School

Calculator, pencil, ruler, and book.

There are 250 million children in the world who do not meet basic proficiency standards for math and reading. This includes 130 million who are in school and 120 million who have never been to school.

Lagging Behind in Hot Spot Countries

Picture of where in the world girls education is lagging.

While many countries have made impressive progress, millions of girls live in “hot spot” countries where progress has stalled. A global study looking at indicators of access and learning levels finds that there are 80 countries in the world where progress on girls' education is severely lagging behind.

Out of School due to Crisis

In areas affected by humanitarian emergencies 33% of children are out of school.

There are 37 million children out of school in countries affected by humanitarian emergencies due to war, disasters, and health epidemics.

The Most Marginalized

Graph showing that the estimated date that poor girls will get an education is not until 2086.

Being a poor rural girl is a triple disadvantage. For example in sub-Saharan Africa, it is predicted that all of the richest boys will be completing primary school by 2021, all of the richest girls by 2029, all of the poorest boys by 2069, but not until 2086 for all of the poorest girls on the continent.

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