6 Achieve universal primary education

Where are we?

Primary school in Morocco

For the Arab States, progress towards the achievement of MDG 2 has seen mixed success. On aggregate, the region has seen improvement in net enrolment rates, gender parity in primary schooling and literacy rate of young adults aged 15-24.

Despite these advances, enrolment, school completion, out-of-school children and the issue of marginalization in education continue to act as impediments to the achievement of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in the Arab States. Challenges remain significant and some countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Oman and the Occupied Palestinian Territory show indications of regression in some indicators.

More than 60 per cent of the primary school aged children not enrolled in school in the region were girls, and 53 per cent of them are expected never to enroll, compared with 39 per cent of out-of-school boys. Apart from gender disparity, other challenges to enrolment are faced in the form of geographical and rural-urban inequality and conflict. An estimated 30 per cent of rural children in the Arab States are out-of-school compared with 18 per cent of those living in cities and towns.

The progress of the Arab States in reaching UPE through the indicator of full primary cycle completion shows that school retention rates are heavily affected by repetition and dropout rates, wherein the quality of education plays a huge role. Within this context and upon the figures available, it is clear that Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania, Iraq and Morocco are clearly off-track and need to revise and accelerate their efforts.


Adjusted net enrolment ratio in primary education in the Arab region

Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics. All figures in bold are taken from UNESCO GMR 2010 in absence of updated information available through UIS databases for sample year (2008).

Targets for MDG2
  1. 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 15-24 year-olds, women and men