Chronic inefficiencies in primary education systems are preventing many countries from offering real learning opportunities to all pupils. The 2012 edition of the Global Education Digest examines two persistent obstacles to universal primary education: high rates of grade repetition and early school leaving.
Globally about 32.2 million pupils repeated a grade in primary education in 2010 compared to 34.7 million in 2000, according to the Digest. So the good news is that over the past decade the number of repeaters has decreased even though enrolment in primary education has increased. However, the situation is problematic in many countries, where students can spend years repeating grades before dropping out of school. About 31.2 million children left school in 2010 before reaching the last grade of primary education. Early school leaving remains a major policy concern, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Digest presents data to identify which children are most likely to repeat a grade or leave school early and when. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, about two in five pupils leave school before reaching Grade 2. The report examines the gender and ages of these children, while highlighting the extent to which household wealth and location shape a child’s educational progression.
The Digest also explores policy options, notably concerning automatic promotion and repetition practices. To better inform this debate, the report presents the most recent results of learning assessments among primary pupils before examining the economic costs associated with high rates of grade repetition and dropout.