Power in Numbers

A gender lens on education data to drive equity and empowerment

Misconceptions hold back the global fight for a just and equal world. We’re using the EGER database to dispel myths, connect data points, and power change.

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Myth

Girls are outperforming boys in school?

False. While gender gaps have decreased in many countries overall, among the poor it is still girls who are often the ones missing out.

fact ✔

Poor young women are less literate than poor young men in three quarters of low- and lower middle-income countries.

Among the poor, young men aged 20-24 are more likely to be literate than young women in 78% (35 out of 45) of low- and lower middle-income countries. Often by a lot, with gender gaps favoring males by more than 10 percentage points in 25 countries.

Myth ✖

As enrolment has increased, has just about everyone learned how to read?

False. We’ve made some progress on literacy, but we are still failing millions of children, especially the marginalized.

fact ✔

In many countries, less than half of poor young women and men can read.

For poor young men (aged 20-24), less than half are literate in 47% (21 out of 45) of low- and lower middle-income countries. For young women, the figures are worse: in 73% (33 out of 45) of low- and lower middle-income countries, less than half of poor young women (aged 20-24) can read.

Myth ✖

The vast majority of girls and boys finish primary school?

False. There are still large numbers of children that never complete primary school, especially among the poorest.

fact ✔

Less than half of poor girls and boys complete primary school in 37 countries.

Specifically, in 54% (37 out of 69) of low- and lower middle-income countries, less than half of poor girls and boys complete primary school. In 24 of those countries, the percent of primary school graduates is even lower, with less than a third of poor children finishing primary school.

Myth ✖

Girls and boys finish lower secondary school at similar rates?

False. Despite some improvements, girls, especially poor girls, are less likely to complete lower secondary school in many countries.

fact ✔

Only one out of ten (or fewer) poor girls complete lower secondary school in 41% (28 out of 68) of low- and lower middle-income countries.

Poor boys fare better than poor girls, but we are letting many boys down too. Among poor boys, less than 10% finish lower secondary school in 32% (22 out of 68) of low- and lower middle-income countries.

Key Takeaways

Asking the right questions highlights urgent data and can power transformative change. Here are a few evolving highlights.

  • Among the poor, young men are more likely to be literate than young women in 78% of low- and lower middle-income countries.

  • In 73% (33 out of 45) of low- and lower middle-income countries, less than half of poor young women can read.

  • In 54% (37 out of 69) of low- and lower middle-income countries, less than half of poor girls and boys complete primary school.

  • Only one out of ten poor girls completes lower secondary school in 41% (28 out of 68) of low- and lower middle-income countries.

Using the Data

Figures to power your message

  • We regularly update this page with new data highlighting important facts and patterns. Check back often for material that’s ready to use. Last updated July 1, 2022.

  • For the Power in Numbers data table and the analyses above, we draw on data from multiple sources, including DHS, MICS, UNESCO’s UIS.Stat, UNICEF's Datawarehouse and the Adolescent Data Portal.

Ask Your Own Questions

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Power in Numbers data

The link below brings you to a data table with up-to-date statistics on gender and education in 134 low- and middle-income countries. Indicators are disaggregated by sex, and the data can be filtered and sorted to focus on the topics, countries, and regions that interest you.

Explore the data table