Education Developing Countries - Compassion International


Education Facts
Get the facts about education in developing countries and how it affects children and adults.

education graphic

One of the biggest contributors to global poverty is lack of access to education. The following facts about education are a snapshot of the problem and indicate how difficult it is for children in poverty to overcome the obstacles they face and escape their circumstances.

In order to effectively fight poverty around the world, the lack of education for children in developing countries, especially for girls, must be addressed.

  • In 2015, the total number of illiterate adults reached 745.1 million. 8
  • About 114 million young people, still lack basic reading and writing skills. 6 Two-thirds (63 percent) are women 7
  • Better enforcement of early marriage laws would increase average years of schooling for women in sub-Saharan Africa by 39 percent. 7
  • Three regions have achieved gender parity among adults and youth with regard to literacy: the Caucasus and Central Asia, developed regions, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Eastern Asia, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia have achieved gender parity for youth literacy but not for adult literacy. 1
  • Northern Africa, Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are far from gender parity. In Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the adult literacy rate indicates that women aged 15 years and older are nearly one-quarter less likely to be literate than men in the same age group. 1
  • Globally, women aged 15 years and older are nine percent less likely to be literate than men, and young women between 15 and 24 years are four percent less likely to be literate than young men. 1
Through our child sponsorship program we offer children in poverty the opportunity to go to school and/or stay in school. We give them the chance to change the facts about education and change their future. When asked which component of our program was most beneficial to them, more than one-third of formerly sponsored children said "educational support." 5

A Kenyan college student wearing a white shirt stands in front of a light blue wood door with crosses carved into it.

  • In 2014, 61 million children of primary school age were not enrolled in school. 7
  • Girls make up 53 percent of the global population of children out of school. 7
  • Thirty-nine percent of the worldwide poor have no formal education at all. 9
  • 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys. 2
  • Forty-seven percent of the 32 million girls who were out of school in 2014 are expected to never go to school, compared with 35 percent of the 29 million boys. 7
  • One in six children in low and middle income countries will not complete primary school in 2015. 3
  • A sample of 31 low- and lower-middle-income African and South Asian countries, showed that, on average, an urban child is almost five times more likely to complete secondary education than a rural child. And a boy is 1.55 times more likely than a girl to complete secondary school. 4
Independent research found that former Compassion sponsored children stay in school longer than their non-sponsored peers: 1 to 1.5 years longer, are 27 to 40 percent more likely to finish secondary education and are 50 to 80 percent more likely to graduate college than those who were not enrolled in the child sponsorship program. 5
  • In 2015, 82.6 per cent of women were literate, compared with 89.8 per cent of men. 8
  • Thirty countries have adult literacy rates below 70 percent; 22 of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. 8
  • Southern Asia is home to more than one-half of the global illiterate population (51 percent). 1
  • 26 percent of all illiterate adults live in sub-Saharan Africa. 1
  • Despite progress, gender disparity in youth literacy remains persistent in almost one in five countries. 1
When you sponsor a child, your sponsorship provides school fees, uniforms, books and supplies — without which children can't attend school. Your money also provides basic necessities for the family so that child labor isn't forced upon the child.
How Do the UN Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Compassion?

several children look outside through a window

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.