40+ Eye-Opening Education Statistics to Know in 2021

Even though education is the right everyone should have, education statistics show that things aren’t so great. Despite the steady increase in literacy rate in the past 50 years, there are still illiterate people around the globe.

The latest figures below serve as a reminder that there’s a lot to be done to reach the ultimate goal — literacy for all youth and most adults by 2030. They also illustrate the impact of COVID-19 on education, the state of equality in the sector, the importance of sexual education, and more.

Top United States Education Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • The global higher education market is worth $65.40 billion.
  • 130 million girls aged between 6 and 17 are uneducated.
  • 94% of countries adopted remote learning policies.
  • 20% of college students said their mental health had gotten worse during the pandemic.
  • 94% of Americans have at least a high school diploma.
  • 90% of Black students have internet access.
  • 45% of people aged 25 or more with a master’s degree are White.
  • 23.2% of students are physically active for one hour or more each day.

International Education Statistics

1. The global literacy rate for adults is 86.3%.

(World Population Review)

The results are related to people older than 15. Compared to the beginning of the 21st century, when the literacy rate was nearly 82%, we can notice a steady increase. Still, 14% of the adult world population is illiterate.

2. The literacy rate in developed countries is 99.2%.

(World Population Review)

The global literacy rates are higher in developed countries. The latest education statistics by country reveal that Uzbekistan, Greenland, Andora, and North Korea have a 100% literacy rate. Moreover, Ukraine and Poland follow with 99.8% each. On the other hand, the most illiterate adults live in West and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Niger has the lowest literacy rate — only 19%.

3. About 175 million children aged 3–5 aren’t enrolled in preschool education.

(UNICEF)

Trends in early childhood education show a low enrolment rate. Despite many lifelong benefits and a strong education base that pre-primary education provides, nearly 50% of all pre-primary-age children aren’t enrolled in pre-school education. The issue is more extensive in low-income countries where only one in five children aged 3–5 is included in pre-primary education.

4. The global higher education market is valued at $65.40 billion.

(Verified Market Research)

National education stats reveal that the global higher education market grows at a rate of 8.25%, and it will reach $117.95 billion by 2027. Moreover, the global online education market grows faster at an 18% rate and is projected to reach $247.46 billion by 2024.

5. In Japan, 83% of 3-year-olds are enrolled in kindergartens.

(NCEE)

One of the best-known Japanese education system facts is the high enrollment rate across all educational levels. When it comes to pre-school education, the country has two types of institutions — childcare centers and kindergartens. Enrolment in preschool institutions in Japan is as high as or higher than the OECD average. Moreover, 96% of children aged four and 97% of five-year-olds are enrolled in kindergarten.

6. 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read proficiently by the age of 10.

(World Bank)

According to the education statistics from the World Bank, the rate jumps to 80% in poorer countries. The high levels of illiteracy are alarming, and projections for the future are even more discouraging — by 2030, 44% of children will still lack reading proficiency.

7. 260 million children are out of school.

(Relief Web)

Despite the Sustainable Development Goals’ mission to provide elementary education to all children globally by 2030, the number of children out of school is enormous. If no action is taken, current trends in education warn that figure could quickly 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.

8. 130 million girls aged 6–17 are uneducated.

(Relief Web)

What’s even worse, 15 million primary school-age girls will never attend school. As per the latest data, 50% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, only 40% of girls from this background complete lower secondary school.

Education Statistics: COVID-19 Edition

9. About 258 million children worldwide were out of school due to the pandemic.

(UNICEF)

UNICEF reported that one in seven children missed over 75% of in-person learning due to school closures. Moreover, at least 463 million students worldwide are unable to learn, mainly due to a lack of remote learning policies or equipment needed for learning at home.

As of May 2021, 141 countries have reopened their schools for in-person operation; yet, schools in two-third of countries are still closed.

10. 94% of countries adopted remote learning policies.

(UNICEF)

Education around the world statistics reveal that the most common approach was digital instruction used by 74% of countries for primary education. Similarly, 77% of countries adopted the digital instruction approach for upper secondary education and 42% for pre-primary education.

11. Only 60% of countries adopted remote learning policies for pre-primary education.

(UNICEF)

Providing online learning opportunities at this education level is vital — every $1 invested in pre-primary education enrollment returns $9 in benefits to society. Still, out of the 94% of remote learning policies, less than two-thirds were for pre-primary students.

12. Statistics about education reveal that TV-based learning opportunities reached 62% of students.

(UNICEF)

Even though it’s not the most convenient method for distributing course materials, television plays a significant role in remote learning. Data indicates the TV-remote learning policies reached the most students — 930 million worldwide.

13. 40% of countries failed to support learners with disabilities during the lockdown.

(UNESCO)

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

14. 31% of students don’t have access to digital or broadcast remote learning assets.

(UNICEF)

As per education statistics worldwide, three out of four students who cannot be reached by learning opportunities are from poor households or rural areas. The minimum share of students not reached was the highest in Eastern and Southern Africa — 49%, whereas the lowest was in Latin America and the Caribbean — 9%.

15. 20% of college students report their mental health has worsened during the pandemic.

(Active Minds, The Lancet)

School closures and social distancing took a toll on students’ mental health. Recent data reveals that the mental health of one in five students has worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. Also, 48% of students have experienced financial issues because of the pandemic, and 38% have had trouble focusing on their studies.

The State of United States Education Stats

40+ Eye-Opening Education Statistics to Know in 2021 F1

16. 94% of Americans have a high school diploma.

(Education Data)

In the US, education fulfillment among 25–29-year-olds has increased by 80% since 2000. As a result, 49% of Americans hold an associate’s degree, while 39% have a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, 9% hold a master’s degree. According to the latest data, the number of college graduates is on the rise, positively influencing the job market.

17. The unemployment rate for students with an associate’s degree is only 2.8%.

(McClellan High School)

According to US education statistics, the unemployment rate among students with a bachelor’s degree is 2.2%. On the other hand, 4.1% of those with a high school diploma and 5.4% of those with less than a high school diploma are unemployed. The unemployment rate is even lower for students with a master’s degree (2.1%), professional degree (1.5%), and doctoral degree (1.6%).

18. Approximately 70–80% of students are active in the labor market.

(Admissionsly)

Considering the high education expenses and the student loan debt, it’s not surprising that so many students work while enrolled in a college. American education stats further reveal that about 40% of students work full-time, or at least 30 hours a week, whereas others work part-time jobs.

19. Almost 160,000 US teens have been bullied at some point.

(Do Something)

Bullying is a serious problem in primary and secondary schools. One out of five students aged 12–18 have been bullied at school. As a result, students who have been frequently harassed at school show lower reading, math, and science scores.

20. One of the not-well-known facts about education in the US is that 21,548 private schools are religiously oriented.

(NCES, Education Data)

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). The average class size in private schools is 18.8 students, and they usually have a lower student-to-teacher ratio of 12 students per teacher.

21. Public schools have about 526 students on average.

(Private School Review)

Facts about education reveal that the state with the largest average number of students in public schools is Georgia, with 769 students. On the other hand, Montana has the smallest average public school student size — 179 students.

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

(Guide 2 Research)

Private primary and high schools make up one-third of the total number of schools in America. As the United States 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. On the other hand, private educational institutions require considerable sums for enrollment. Thus, it’s not much of a surprise that 50.8 million students go to public schools.

Sexual Education Facts & Stats

23. 47% of female teenagers and 38% of male teenagers received instructions on birth control methods in high school.

(CDC)

Young adults in the US are surely well-educated when it comes to sex. Namely, 97% of male and 96% of female teenagers had formal sexual education before turning 18. In addition, 92% of boys and 93% of girls said they were educated about STDs. Likewise, 89% of boys and 88% of girls reported being taught about HIV/AIDS prevention.

24. 81% of male and 87% of female teenagers received formal sex education on “how to say no to sex.”

(CDC)

US teenagers know when and how to say no to sex they aren’t ready or willing to have. According to the latest sexual education statistics, a high percentage of teenagers know how to refuse sex. Besides, 62% of boys and 70% of girls stated they had received formal education about birth control methods.

25. Two out of three male and four out of five female teenagers talk with their parents about at least one sex education topic.

(CDC)

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.

Moreover, male vs. female education statistics show that girls aged 15–17 are more likely (80%) to talk about sexual-related issues with their parents than boys of the same age (68%).

Special Education Facts & Stats

26. In the US, 7.3 million students aged 3–21 require special education.

(NCES)

In addition, students with disabilities make 14% of all students enrolled in public schools in the US. Out of that percentage, the most common category of disability was specific learning disabilities — 33 percent.

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

(UNESCO)

Education statistics show that not enough world countries have passed laws that enable complete inclusion in schools. The main factors for exclusion are age, location, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and similar.

The UNESCO report indicates that the exclusion was even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic — 40% of low and lower-middle-income countries haven’t supported disadvantaged learners during school shutdown.

28. 10.2% of students with disabilities have autism.

(NCES)

Special education stats confirm autism is highly present among students. About 710,000 of all special ed students are diagnosed with autism. Data also shows that the number of students with autism is on the rise, considering that only 1.5% of them could be found in 2000. According to surveys, boys are up to five times more likely to have autism than girls.

29. New York has the most significant number of students with disabilities — 19.2%.

(Pew Research)

United States education stats show that the number of students with disabilities varies by state, revealing that not all states make enrollment easy for these students. For example, the number of disabled students receiving special education is the highest in New York (19.2%), followed by Pennsylvania (18.6%), Maine (18.4%), and Massachusetts (18%). Conversely, the enrollment rate goes as low as 9.2% in Texas, 10.6% in Hawaii, and 11% in Idaho.

Education Inequality Statistics

30. White students represent 46.6% of the total enrollment at public schools in the US.

(Guide 2 Research)

Moreover, 23.7 million White students, 13.9 million Hispanic students, and 7.7 million Black students enrolled in the 2019–2020 school year. The smallest minorities in the US public schools are Asians (2.7 million) and American Indian/Alaska Native (0.5 million). In addition, the US education rate is the lowest for Pacific Islander students — 0.2 million.

31. According to the most recent data, 90% of Black students have access to the internet.

(NSBA)

This is lower than their White (96%) and Asian (98%) peers. About 11% of Black students aged 3–18 access the internet solely through a smartphone, compared to 3% of White students and 2% of Asians. Furthermore, 39% of Black students who don’t have internet access say it’s because they couldn’t afford it.

32. US education statistics reveal that 88% of African Americans have a high school diploma.

(Census Bureau)

Universal compulsory education has increased high school fulfillment. Additionally, more educated youth has replaced the less educated generation, which also influences educational attainment. As a result, over 88% of Blacks have a high school diploma, which is close to the national average (90%) and much higher than the 7% from 1940.

33. 26% of Black students have a bachelor’s degree.

(Census Bureau)

Black education statistics show that only 1% of black students finished college in 1940. The gap between the Black student college attainment rate and the national average was four percentage points. Today, the rate is much higher. With the national average of 36%, the percentage gap persists but has grown closer.

34. 26% of Latino immigrants older than 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

(Pew Research)

According to Hispanic education statistics, Latinos aged 25 or more are among the rapidly growing share of recently arrived Hispanic immigrants who completed high school — 67%. Additionally, more than a quarter have a bachelor’s degree or more.

35. 45% of people aged 25 or more and holding a master’s degree are White.

(Education Data)

Racial inequality is most apparent at the highest education levels — most master’s degree holders are White. However, Asians account for 23% of the total number of 25-year-olds with advanced degrees — 92% higher than other races. Asians are also almost five times more likely to get a master’s degree than Hispanics.

Trends In Education Statistics

36. 41% of universities and colleges have already implemented AI.

(Guide2Research)

Educational institutions use artificial intelligence to lighten time-sensitive admin and academic tasks, boost the learning experience for students, enhance IT processes, and increase enrollment. However, the majority (57%) of universities and colleges are still skeptical about AI implementation, although more than a third have already implemented it.

Predictions are that AI will play a significant role in education in the next 10–15 years and become one of the hottest trends in higher education.

37. 18% of colleges and universities have fully deployed VR.

(Guide2Research)

The education sector accounts for 26% of VR investments, right after the gaming industry (59%). Most recent data shows that 18% of universities and colleges have fully implemented VR technology, 28% use it to some extent, and 32% are testing it. More and more institutions realize the potential of VR, which means these numbers will increase.

38. According to the latest education data, online learning platforms launched 2,800 courses in 2020.

(Class Central)

Massive Open Online Courses will remain a significant trend post-pandemic. Approximately 40% of learners who joined these platforms in 2020 signed up due to the pandemic. Moreover, the online learning platforms have attracted 180 million learners (excluding China). Additionally, these platforms have provided more than 19 online degrees and 360 micro-credentials.

Fun Facts About Education

39. Students from low-income families with access to arts education are twice as likely to graduate from college than students with no access to arts education.

(I Paint My Mind)

Art education sets up students with the attitude and skills needed to pursue higher education. Moreover, students with access to art education are three times more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree as art education inspires students to complete their degree programs and graduate. Additionally, low-income students with access to art education are twice as likely to graduate from college than their peers with no access to art education.

40. Students with access to art education are five times less likely to drop out.

(I Paint My Mind)

Art education statistics reveal that the dropout rate is five times lower for students who have access to art education. This area of learning inspires and stimulates the students’ approach to learning and rekindles their academic motivation. What’s more, art education can increase students’ academic participation, making them four times more likely to be recognized for their achievements.

41. Only 23.2% of students are physically active for at least one hour a day.

(State of Childhood Obesity)

The rate of students meeting physical activity recommendations has been on a steady decline since 2011. Recent physical education stats reveal low physical activity among students, as 70.1% of them didn’t attend PE classes on one or more days in a given week. On the other hand, sedentary activities increased — 20.7% were watching TV, and 43.0% reported playing video or computer games for three or more hours on a school day.

42. Children enrolled in music lessons score 44 points higher in math than those who aren’t engaged in playing a musical instrument.

(Wave Review)

When it comes to the benefits of music education, statistics show that children attending musical instrument playing lessons get better scores in other sections than those who don’t play any instrument. Apart from math, a survey carried out among fifth graders showed that those enrolled in musical lessons earned 63 points more on verbal sections than those who weren’t.

43. Only 43% of students pursuing a STEM major remain in the field at the time of their last enrollment.

(NAP)

STEM education stats reveal a disappointing state in the STEM field. Among the students pursuing a STEM major, only 43% of four-year and 14% of two-year students remain in the field at their last enrollment, whereas the rest are moving to other majors. The majority (48.7%) shift to business majors, 21.2% to social sciences, and 11.1% to education.

 The Importance of Education

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)