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Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education


 Goal 2
  • Ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling


Primary completion rate:
Percent of relevant age group (2004-08, most recent year available)
 Promary completion
Click to enlarge image: GIF (63 KB) | PDF (2.3 MB)


Many countries are close to providing universal primary education. In more than 60 developing countries, over 90 percent of primary-school-age children are in school; the number of children out of school fell from 115 million in 2002 to 72 million in 2007, even with growing populations. In 2007 the primary school completion rate reached 86 percent for all developing countries together—93 percent for middle-income countries, but just 65 percent for low-income countries. Net attendance rates are rising in several poor countries.


MDG 2 Outlook

With these substantial improvements, the world will come close to the goal of universal primary school completion in 2015 but is likely to still fall short. In the post-crisis trend, 350,000 more students in developing countries may fail to complete primary school in 2015. For Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia the lower ratios of 60 percent and 80 percent in 2007 still constitute advancement over the 51 percent and 62 percent in 1991. But with 41 million primary-school-age children out of school in Sub-Saharan Africa and 31.5 million in South Asia, the task ahead remains large.

Figure 4.2 MDG 2
Click to enlarge image: GIF (19 KB) | PDF (85 KB)

Table 4.2 MDG 2
Click to enlarge image: GIF (14 KB) | PDF (133 KB)

Footnote: GMR2010 analyzes risks to the MDGs under three alternate scenarios for GDP growth in developing countries after the financial crisis:

  • The post-crisis trend assumes a relatively rapid economic recovery in 2010, with strong growth continuing into the future. This is the report’s base case forecast.
  • The pre-crisis (high growth) trend gives the forecast path for the MDGs if developing countries had continued their impressive growth performance during 2000–07, the period just before the global economic crisis. The impact of the crisis on the MDGs can thus be measured by comparing the post-crisis trend scenario with this one.
  • The low growth scenario assumes that things that got worse because of the crisis will remain so in the medium run. There is little or no growth for about 5 years, and growth recovers slowly thereafter.


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