Poverty levels are also closely linked to gender disparities in education. A comparison of male and female out-of-school rates shows that in low-income countries females are more likely to be out of school than males, while the opposite can be observed in high-income countries. The countries with the highest out-of-school rates also tend to be among the poorest countries in the world.
Quality of education aside, countries now take less time to improve average years of education than in the past. Whereas it took around 17 years to increase average education levels in poor countries by one year in the 1960s and 70s, it now takes around 11 years. However while the rate of progress has generally sped up, Africa is falling further behind and will continue to do so, in part because of rapid population growth.
In 2016, 263 million children, adolescents and youth were out of school, representing nearly one-fifth of the global population of this age group.
There are many well-known benefits of Education;
- First, education affects demography through improved health (it reduces mortality) and reduced fertility rates (there are fewer children per female within childbearing age, meaning parents can better look after their children). In turn, demography affects improved education systems and opportunities in terms of size and characteristics of the school-going age of the population.
- Educational gains lead to improved productivity. A more literate and skilled workforce is more productive and can be engaged in higher value-add activities
- Better-educated people can increase their incomes, thus improving their economic circumstances. The relationship between higher levels of education and income is strong and almost linear.
- Education also promotes equity and democracy. A better educated citizenry can make more informed political choices.
- Improved levels of education reduce social inequalities where individuals can progress and be judged based on merit, with less importance being put on their social backgrounds, standing or other characteristics such as religion, race or caste.
Equally important, societies need to recognise the value of education, especially of girls, and provide an enabling environment to ensure gender equity in education in fulfiling the 2030 Education agenda, End Child Poverty continues to ensure that children are afforded the opportunity to receive quality education, in providing scholarships to children from low-income households; including, orphaned and vulnerable children and children affected by war and violent conflicts.