MDGs & Gender
GOAL 2: Achieve universal primary education
Target 2a

Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

  • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
  • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
  • Literacy rate of 15- to 24-yearolds, women and men

National and regional progress in increasing girls' enrolment in school shows how much can be achieved by governments willing to invest in girls' and women's rights. The global net enrolment ratio has increased from 80 per cent in 1991 to 88 in 2005. The gender gap in enrolment has shrunk in most regions, and the gender gap in literacy is also narrowing. Still, much remains to be done in relation to girls' education to ensure that girls finish primary and secondary school, to eliminate violence against girls in school, and to bring more non-enrolled girls into school. Of the estimated 72 million primary-age children that were not in school in 2005, 57 per cent were girls, and this may be an underestimate.

Figure MDG2.1: Gender Differences in Primary Education Enrolment Ratios Are Decreasing but are Still Significant in Some Regions

Sub-Saharan Africa has made significant improvements in overall primary education enrolment and is now on track for achieving the 2015 goal. In South Asia, although absolute enrolment levels have increased for both boys and girls, the gender gap in primary education does not seem to be narrowing. In the Middle East and North Africa, gender disparities are still present although decreasing

Sources: UN Statistics Millennium Indicator Database; UN Statistics Division database.
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