Learning and skills

Last update: June 2022 | Next update: June 2023

Now more children are enrolled in school than ever before but far too many of them are not learning. Data from Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) show that many children around the world today are not equipped with foundational reading and numeracy skills that prepare them for the world beyond school. In addition, the digital nature of modern society makes information and communications technology (ICT) skills essential to full social and economic participation, yet data show that many children and youth do not possess these vital skills.


Learning and skills

Notes on the Data

For a full picture of children’s school participation, UNICEF uses two sources of data: enrolment data, which are based on administrative records, and attendance data from household surveys. In half of all countries, data on primary and secondary education come from more than one source.  All data on primary and secondary education used by UNICEF are based on official International Standard Classifications of Education (ISCED) and may deviate somewhat from those used by country-specific school systems.

Definition of indicators

Foundational reading skills  Foundational reading skills measure the minimum proficiency skills in reading expected in Grade 2/3. Foundational reading skills are divided into three categories: 1) word recognition (correctly reading 90 per cent of words in a story), 2) literal questions (replying correctly to all three literal questions), and 3) inferential (replying correctly to both of two inferential questions). If the child succeeds in all three tasks, s/he is considered to have foundational reading skills. 

Foundational numeracy skills  Foundational numeracy skills measure the minimum proficiency skills in numeracy expected in Grade 2/3. Foundational numeracy skills are divided into four tasks: 1) number reading, 2) number discrimination, 3) addition, and 4) pattern recognition. Each task is composed of several questions and the child must correctly answer all questions to successfully complete the task. If the child succeeds in all four tasks, s/he is considered to have foundational numeracy skills. 

ICT skills – ICT skills are calculated by the simple ratio of the number of individuals in a demographic group who used a certain ICT skill, divided by the total number of people in that demographic group. 

Youth literacy rates – The share of population that can both read and write a short, simple statement about their everyday life.