The education and training that children receive in secondary school equip them with skills that are necessary to fully participate in society. Though the standards in each country vary, secondary education typically covers ages 12 to 17 and is divided into two levels: lower secondary education (spanning 3 to 4 years) and upper secondary education (spanning 2 to 3 years). However, in 2019, just two in three children attended either lower or upper secondary school, and only one in two children attended either upper secondary school or higher education. From 2000 to 2019, the number of out-of-school children of lower secondary school-age shrank from 99 million to 61 million, and the number of out-of-school children of upper secondary school-age fell from 177 million to 137 million. Although huge progress has been made in the past few decades, challenges remain in reducing regional disparities and inequalities among secondary school-age students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Data

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

Lower secondary education adjusted net attendance rate – Percentage of children of lower secondary school age who attend secondary or higher education. 

Upper secondary education adjusted net attendance rate  Percentage of children of upper secondary school age who attend upper secondary or higher education. 

Lower secondary education completion rate – Total number of children who are 3 to 5 years older than the intended age for the last grade of lower secondary education who completed lower secondary education, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children who are 3 to 5 years older than the intended age for the last grade of lower secondary education. 

Upper secondary education completion rate – Total number of children who are 3 to 5 years older than the intended age for the last grade of upper secondary education who completed upper secondary education, expressed as a percentage of the total number of children who are 3 to 5 years older than the intended age for the last grade of upper secondary education. 

Lower secondary education out-of-school children rate  Total number of children of lower secondary school age and who are not enrolled in primary or secondary education. 

Upper secondary education out-of-school children rate  Total number of children of upper secondary school age and who are not enrolled in primary education, secondary, or higher education. 

Gender parity index – The ratio of female-to-male values of a given indicator. Normally, a GPI between 0.97 and 1.03 indicates parity between the sexes, whereas a GPI lower than 0.97 indicates girl disadvantage and a GPI greater than 1.03 indicates boy disadvantage.