After years of progress, a new UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report study shows numbers of out-of-school children rising, especially in Africa. On average, progress toward providing access to education for all has stalled, as indicated by the UNESCO data, which shows 61 million primary-age children out-of-school in 2010, the same figure as for 2008.
The number of out-of-school children had been in steady decline over the past 15 years. Girls, who represented 58% of out-of-school children in 2000 and 53% in 2010, benefited most from the efforts to improve access to education–but progress has now stopped and the number of children out of school has stagnated.
Most of the stagnation can be attributed to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, which has the most out-of school children. Almost one school-age child in four (23%) has never been to school, or dropped out of school before finishing the primary cycle in this region, where the absolute number of children denied access to school has climbed from 29 million in 2008 to 31 million in 2010. Nigeria accounts for 10.5 million out-of-school children; Ethiopia, 2.4 million.