Eye-Opening Education Statistics You Need to Know

Even though education is the right everyone should have, education statistics show that things aren’t that great. Education is fundamental to professional development and personal growth. Thus, it can’t be emphasized enough that proper education is vital at both an individual and a socio-economic level.

Despite the steady increase in literacy rate in the past 50 years, there are still illiterate people around the globe. The figures provided by UNESCO serve as a reminder that there’s a lot to be done to reach the ultimate goal — literacy and numeracy for all youth and most adults by 2030.

Top Education Facts and Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • 132 million girls around the world are out of school.
  • The global literacy rate for adults over 15 years of age was 86% in 2016.
  • 260 million children are out of school.
  • 12 million children may never receive an education.
  • The world will need 25.8 million teachers by 2030.
  • 40% of low to middle-income countries failed to support students with disabilities during the coronavirus crisis.
  • 97% of male teenagers had formal sex education before they turned 18.
  • There will be 56.4 million students in the US in the 2020-2021 academic year.

General Education Statistics Worldwide

Eye-Opening Education Statistics You Need to Know 1

As an inseparable part of education, literacy is a measure of how well a population is educated. It measures the ability to write, read, and understand a short text. Literacy rates have grown slowly but steadily throughout history. It was in the 19th and 20th centuries that literacy rates reached universality. In the second half of the 20th century, literacy finally skyrocketed as basic education became a priority in all countries in the world.

1. The global literacy rate for adults was 86% in 2016.

(Our World in Data)

Education stats show that 86% of the global population over 15 years of age had basic literacy skills in 2016. Compared to the beginning of the 21st century, when the literacy rate was nearly 82%, this is a steady increase. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that 14% of the adult world population is still illiterate.

2. Literacy rates below 50% are recorded in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

(UNESCO Institute for Statistics)

Education demographics generally show substantial improvement regarding literacy skills. With the global adult literacy rate of 86%, it could be said that the world is seeing significant progress.

However, considerable discrepancy still remains, particularly between African and Southern Asian countries and the rest of the world. Some countries in Africa have literacy rates below 30%, while 49% of the global illiterate population lives in Southern Asia. Despite all efforts to increase the literacy rate, there’s still a lot of work to do.

3. South Sudan has only 27% of literate people.

(Our World in Data)

World education statistics show stark figures regarding the literacy rate in Africa. The county with the smallest number of literate people is South Sudan, with a literacy rate of only 27%. The next in line are Niger and Burkina Faso, with 28.7%. Outside the African continent, Afghanistan shows a rate of literate people of only 28.1%.

4. 260 million children are out of school in 2020.

(Relief Web)

In spite of the Sustainable Development Goals’ mission to provide elementary education to all children across the globe by 2030, the number of children who are out of school amounts to 260 million. If no action is taken, current trends in education warn that figure could easily jump to 825 million uneducated children in a decade or so.
Therefore, the whole world is faced with a tough humanity test that must be passed quickly and efficiently to avoid further and dire consequences. But how long will it take until the world tackles the problem?

5. 130 million girls aged 6–17 are uneducated.

(Relief Web)

Women’s education statistics show that 130 million girls between six and 17 years of age are currently out of school. What’s even worse, 15 million primary school-age girls will never attend school. 50% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

6. The world will need 25.8 million teachers by 2030.

Five years ago, when the Sustainable Development Goals project started, the UN predicted that the world would need 25.8 million teachers in primary schools by 2030. However, education facts reveal entirely different numbers.
A high number of teachers don’t have adequate qualifications or training necessary to provide quality education. Only 85% of teachers across the globe have undergone proper training. In sub-Saharan Africa, that number is 64%.
Similarly, only 50% of secondary teachers have received the proper training to deliver quality education.

7. Less than 10% of countries have laws that ensure inclusion.


Education statistics show that not enough world countries have passed laws that enable complete inclusion in schools — only 10%. The main factors for exclusion are age, location, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, etc. The UNESCO report indicates that the exclusion was even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic.

8. 40% of countries failed to support learners with disabilities during lockdown.


Less than half of lower-middle and low-income countries didn’t provide adequate support to disadvantaged learners during lockdown. When schools eventually reopen, those countries should urgently focus on students left behind to create equal educational opportunities for all.

US Trends in Education Stats and Facts

Eye-Opening Education Statistics You Need to Know 3

The US is among the countries where education is a top priority. The education begins in primary schools, but it can be said that it already starts in preschool. When students finish primary school, they attend a secondary school that’s typically split into middle school (7th and 8th grade) and high school (9th through 12th grade). When students complete the 12th grade, they can continue their education at colleges and universities.

9. There will be 56.4 million students in the US in the 2020-2021 academic year.


The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that the new school year will welcome nearly 56.4 million students in elementary, middle, and high schools in the US. 50.7 million of them will attend public schools, while 5.7 million will be enrolled in private schools.

Out of the overall number of public school students, 1.5 million and 3.7 million will attend prekindergarten and kindergarten, respectively. 35.3 million should attend preschool to 8th grade. 15.4 million should be enrolled in 9th to 12 grade, while 4.1 students should enter high school.

10. For the 2020-2021 school year, public schools expect 46.6% of white students in classrooms.

(Guide 2 Research)

For the 2020-2021 school year, public schools expect to enroll 23.6 million white students, who will make up 46.6% of the entire student population. As education statistics by race reveal, other minorities that will be enrolled include Hispanics (13.9 million students), Afro-Americans (7.64 million), and Asians (2,7 million).

Also, public schools expect 0.5 million Native American students and 0.2 million Pacific Islanders. These students belong to the smallest minority groups in American public schools.

11. In 2018, there were 137,432 schools in the US.

(Guide 2 Research)

According to the US Department of Education statistics 2019, there are 137,432 educational institutions as of the 2017-2018 school year. This figure includes elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, and universities. Out of the total number, 87,498 are primary schools, while 26,727 are secondary schools. The number of combined schools is 15,804.

12. There are 32,461 private schools in the US.

(Guide 2 Research)

With the number of 32,461, private primary and high schools make up one-third of the total number of schools in America. As K-12 education statistics show, the remaining two-thirds (98,469) are public schools.

As opposed to private, public schools are available to everyone regardless of their financial status. Private educational institutions, on the other hand, require considerable sums for enrollment. Thus, it’s not much of a surprise that there were 50.8 million students in public schools in 2019.

13. The number of tertiary educational institutions is 6,606 as of 2017.


Higher education statistics disclose that there are 6,606 colleges and universities in the US. Out of that number, 4,360 grant a degree upon graduation; 2,832 are four-year colleges, whereas 1,528 are two-year colleges.
Even though Cambridge and Oxford are undoubtedly the most popular tertiary educational institutions, many top-notch universities are located in the US. For those who aren’t sure which one to choose, the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator is here as a guide.

There are 181 US colleges and unis that are ranked as the world’s best. The top five include Stanford, Harvard, CalTech, MIT, and the University of California. Ranking by the states, California is in the lead with 15 unis. The next in line are New York with 13, Texas with 12, and Massachusetts with 10 universities.

14. Public schools have about 526 students on average.

(Private School Review)

There are approximately 526 students in one public school. The average class size in a public school stands at 24 students, according to the national education stats. When it comes to private schools, the average number of students per school is 175.

15. 21,548 private schools are religiously oriented.


The great majority of private schools are religiously oriented. The most frequent religious orientations include Roman Catholic (7,047 schools), Christian (4,545 schools), and Baptist (1,727 schools).

16. Almost 160,000 US teens were bullied at some point.

(Do Something)

Bullying is a serious problem in primary and secondary schools. The National Center for Education Statistics: Bullying Victimization uncovered that one out of five students aged 12–18 were bullied at school. These numbers further imply that nearly 160,000 teenagers were victims of bullying during a school year. As a result, students who were frequently harassed at school showed lower reading, maths, and science scores.

17. 72% of US residents had a college degree in 2019.


Even though secondary school graduates don’t have to go to college or university, higher education trends show that Americans appreciate tertiary education. Namely, more than 70% of Americans obtained some sort of college degree in 2019. More precisely, college graduation rates show that 36.6% of college graduates are women, while 35.4% are men. Those figures further suggest that females are more interested in obtaining a two- or four-year degree than men.

18. 19.7 million students are expected to enroll in colleges and universities in fall 2020.


College education statistics show that 19.7 million students will enter US colleges and universities in fall 2020. 12 million students will attend colleges full-time, while 7.7 million will attend colleges part-time. Furthermore, 16.7 million students will be enrolled in undergraduate programs, whereas 3.1 will attend graduate programs.

19. 11.3 million female students are expected to enroll in colleges in the 2020-2021 academic year.


The USA education stats show that this academic year will see more female than male college students. Over 11 million girls and 8.5 million boys will be enrolled in colleges and universities. According to these college student statistics, the majority of students are white — 10.3 million; 3.7 million are Hispanic, and 2.6 million are African-American. There are 1.3 million Asian and Pacific Islander students, while 0.1 million are Native American or Alaskan. The US colleges will also welcome one million students who are non-US residents.

20. Only 20% of American students study a foreign language at the K-12 level.

(American Academy of Art and Sciences)

Even though people say speaking a foreign language may create fantastic opportunities in further education and career, foreign language education statistics in the United States are not that great. Namely, only one-fifth of students at the K-12 level study a foreign language. That figure drops even more to 7.5% of students at the university level.

Speaking a foreign language isn’t essential only for career success. Individuals who speak more than one language have better results on tests. Plus, their creative thinking is more developed. Furthermore, it allows them to speak with people from other parts of the world and immerse themselves in their culture.

Striking Sex Education Statistics and Facts

Eye-Opening Education Statistics You Need to Know 4

Both formal and informal sex education is highly essential as it gives adolescents significant information on good choices and decisions regarding sex. It’s also vital for avoiding unwanted pregnancies or contracting STDs, which can adversely affect a person’s health. Moreover, sex education helps young adults and teenagers (especially girls) learn how to refuse to have sex when they don’t want to. Facts about sex education indicate that a high number of students received formal education on birth control, STDs, and HIV/AIDS prevention.

21. 96% of boys received formal sex education before 18 years of age.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Young adults in the US are surely well-educated when it comes to sex. Apart from the knowledge passed from their parents, they obtained some crucial information at school. Education statistics in America disclose that US teenagers received sufficient education about sex. Namely, 96% of male and 97% of female teenagers had formal sexual education before they turned 18. 92% of boys and 93% of girls said they were educated about STDs. Likewise, 89% of boys and 89% reported being taught about HIV/AIDS prevention.

22. 87% of girls are aware of birth control methods.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

US teenagers do know when and how to say no to sex they aren’t ready or willing to have. According to education statistics, a high percentage of teenagers know how to refuse sex. Besides, 81% of boys and 87% of girls stated they had formal education about birth control methods.

23. Almost 90% of teenagers talked with their parents about at least one sex education topic.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

It’s encouraging to know that American parents are eager to talk with their children about sex. Out of six important topics (how to say no to sex, birth control, HIV and AIDS prevention, STDs, where to get birth control, and how to use a condom), they covered at least one before their kids turned 18.

Facts about education in America show that almost four out of five girls and over two out of three boys had a conversation with their parents about at least one out of six sex education topics. More precisely, girls aged 15–17 were 80% percent more likely to talk about such topics with their parents as opposed to 68% of boys of the same age

Education Fun Facts and Stats

Eye-Opening Education Statistics You Need to Know 5
Education facts and statistics uncover some intriguing data about literacy and education.

(Fact Retriever)

  • There are 775 million functionally illiterate adults. That staggering figure implies that 12% of the world’s adult population can’t read or write.
  • About two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will probably end up in jail or on welfare.
  • Women account for two-thirds of the lowest literate adults in the world.
  • One out of four children in the US grows up without learning how to read.
  • According to education statistics by state, the most illiterate people live in Long Beach, CA, followed by Mesa, AZ and Aurora, CO.
  • Students who don’t manage to read proficiently by the 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.
  • American Indian and Native Alaskan girls tend to be suspended at greater rates compared to their white peers.
  • Three times more black students than white students are expelled from schools.
  • Many American universities provide an online Educational Statistics course.
  • An incredibly high percentage of high school dropouts are on welfare (around 90%).
  • Finland, Greenland, Norway, North Korea, Vatican City, Luxemburg, and Liechtenstein have a 100% literacy rate.
  • Youth literacy rates in the US and Europe are between 90% and 100%.
  • The top three literate US cities are Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Seattle.
  • Yale has produced the greatest number of presidential candidates in the past 30 years.

The Bottom Line: Digest of Education Statistics

Throughout history, significant progress has been made regarding education and literacy improvement. Yet, considering that there are still countries with a 30% literacy rate and 260 million children who are out of school, there is a lot of work to do.

Proper education is essential for several reasons. It creates better opportunities for personal and professional growth. Also, it contributes to generating higher income and adds to the development of social capital and permanent economic growth.

What are educational statistics?

Educational stats give information and analysis about a vast array of educational topics like access to education, learning outcomes, teachers, literacy, out-of-school children, etc.

Such a data collection provides insight into the number of public and private educational institutions and the number of students graduating from and enrolling in those institutions.

Similarly, statistics predict the number of future students that are expected to attend elementary and high schools and colleges in the years to come. Most importantly, educational statistics indicate which parts of the world have severe problems with providing basic education to citizens.

How are statistics applied in education?

Statistics are used to portray the general state of affairs and predict future outcomes.

They help experts reach conclusions and pinpoint problems. In terms of education, statistics are used to detect pain points in education.

When it comes to teaching, teachers use statistics to interpret test scores more objectively, summarize results in a meaningful way, draw general conclusions, and predict students’ future performance.

What is the education level in the United States?

Education begins in primary school. When students finish primary school, they enroll in secondary school. Secondary school is typically split into middle school (7th and 8th grade) and high school (9th through 12th grade).

When students complete the 12th grade, they can continue their education at colleges and universities.

In 2019, 90.5% of female students and 89.6% of male students graduated from high school in the US.

How many schools in the US are there?

According to statistics, there are 137,432 educational institutions as of 2018. This number includes primary and high schools, post-secondary schools, universities, and colleges.

Out of the total number, there are 87,498 primary, 26,727 secondary, and 15,804 combined schools. Regarding public schools, 98,469 are elementary and secondary schools, whereas 32,461 are private schools. The number of postsecondary schools in the US amounts to 6,606; 1,955 are public and 4,547 private.

What percentage of public schools in the United States are failing?

About 10% of the US national schools, i.e., 8,652 out of around 91,000, are labeled as failing. They are encountering the first level of sanctions according to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

These schools are failing because they didn’t manage to make satisfactory progress on various state assessments. About 3.5 million students that were attending those educational institutions will be transferred to other, more successful schools.

As each state has its assessment and difficulty levels, the number of failing schools differs from state to state. Michigan labeled 40% of its schools (1,513), whereas Arkansas and Wyoming didn’t label any.

However, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Michigan is the top performer, as opposed to Arkansans, which is at the bottom of the list.

How many teachers in the US are there?

According to statistics, there are 3.2 million full-time teachers who work in public schools. 76.5% are female and 23.5% are male teachers. In terms of demographics, US teachers are of different races and nationalities.

Namely, the great majority is white —79.3%. Others are Hispanic (9.3%), African-American (6.7%), and Asian (2.1%); 1.8% are two or more races, 0.5% are Native American or Alaskan Native, and 0.2% are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

What percentage of the world is educated?

The global adult literacy rate is 86%, but there are huge differences in the level of literacy. Some of the most educated countries are the US and the UK, Canada, France, Finland, Greenland, Norway, North Korea, Vatican City, Luxemburg, and Liechtenstein.

Conversely, the least educated countries have a literacy rate below 30% and those are primarily sub-Saharan countries — South Sudan (27%), Niger, and Burkina Faso (28.7%).

Outside Africa, Afghanistan has only 28.1% of literate people, according to the OECD education statistics.