Worldwide, more people than ever before are bene ting from an education. Over 1.5 billion children and youth are enrolled in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and universities. From 1999 to 2008, an additional 52 million children enrolled in primary school. The number of children out of school was more than halved in South and West Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa enrolment ratios rose by almost one-third. Access to education is steadily expanding; across developing countries, enrolment in higher education has risen sharply, and innovative literacy and adult education programmes are transforming the lives of the disadvantaged.
But a number of obstacles, including poverty, still keep 67 million children of primary-school age out of school, 53 per cent of whom are girls and almost 43 per cent of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. Enrolment rates are slowing and being eroded by dropout, particularly in countries affected by armed con ict where over 40 per cent of out-of-school children live. Gender disparities continue to hamper progress in education. Around 17 per cent of the world’s adults – 793 million people, of whom twothirds are women – still lack basic literacy skills. Millions struggle to learn in overcrowded classrooms, without textbooks or quali ed teachers. An additional 2 million teachers will need to be recruited by 2015 to achieve universal primary education, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.