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"Education is the key to the new global economy, from primary school on up to life-long learning. It is central to development, social progress and human freedom."

From the Millennium Report

Vital statistics

  • The number of children in school rose significantly in the past decade, from 599 million in 1990 to 681 million in 1998.

  • Since 1990, some 10 million more children go to school every year, which is nearly double the 1980-90 average.

  • East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean are now close to achieving universal primary education.

  • The number of out-of-school children decreased from 127 million in 1990 to 113 million in 1998. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, the number of out-of-school children was halved, from 11.4 million in 1990 to 4.8 million in 1998.

  • The number of children in pre-school education has risen by 5 per cent in the past decade. Some 104 million children were enrolled in pre-primary establishments in 1998.

  • The number of literate adults doubled from 1970 to 1998 from 1.5 billion to 3.3 billion. Today, 85 per cent of all men and 74 per cent of all women can read and write.

  • Some 87 per cent of young adults (15-24 years olds) are literate worldwide

  • Despite progress in actual numbers, illiteracy rates remain too high: at least 875 million adults remain illiterate, of which 63.8 per cent are women exactly the same proportion as 10 years ago.