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Secondary education (ages 11 to 19) focuses on foundational and/or vocational learning within formal systems, preparing students for secure livelihoods post-graduation.

Size/Magnitude of Problem

Education is one of the most powerful tools for poverty reduction; formal secondary schooling is the most effective way to develop the skills needed for work and adult life. One year of education is estimated to increase earnings by 10%,i and working adults with a secondary education are 60% less likely to be poor than those without. Women who complete secondary education have healthier children: child mortality decreases by 49%, child stunting by 26%.ii

  • 202 million secondary school age youth were out of school globally as of 2014, with 74% concentrated in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. While the number of teenagers out of school has fallen by 26% since 2000, it has stagnated since 2007.iii
  • Globally, lower-secondary-age adolescents are nearly twice as likely to be out of school (16%) as primary-age children (9%). Upper-secondary-age youth are four times as likely to be out of school (37%) as children of primary school age.iv
Desired Equilibrium

All young people have access to quality secondary education that equips them with valuable knowledge and 21st century skill sets, enables them to succeed in the global economy, and inspires them to reach their full potential as adults.

Ways Skoll social entrepreneurs are addressing the issue:
  • Directly providing quality curriculum and services that equip students with critical 21st century skill sets (Benetech, Camfed, Center for Digital Inclusion, Community and Individual Development Association, College Summit, Fundacion Paraguaya, INJAZ Al-Arab, Khan Academy, Manchester-Bidwell Corporation, Sonidos de la Tierra, YouthBuild USA)
  • Enabling youth left out by the school system (e.g. adolescent girls, homeless youth) to receive a foundational education (Camfed, Center for Digital Inclusion, Free The Children, IDSP Pakistan, Population and Development Association, The Citizens Foundation, YouthBuild USA)
  • Creating support networks of resources and expertise, designed to keep youth engaged in school and connect them with outside opportunities (Camfed, College Summit, Girls Not Brides, INJAZ Al-Arab, Manchester Bidwell, Sonidos de la Tierra)
  • Strengthening education governance through training and support to teachers, administrators and school systems (Escuela Nueva, New Teacher Center, Teach for All)
  • Engaging communities as a support network to value secondary education for all children (Girls Not Brides, The Citizens Foundation)

1 UNESCO (link)
2 UNESCO (link)
3 UNESCO (link)
5 UNESCO (link)

Critical Geographies
Lower Secondary School Enrollment

As defined by SPI (< 50% of children)
Central African Republic, Niger, Chad, Mozambique, Uganda, Angola, Mauritania, Senegal, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire

Upper Secondary School Enrollment

As defined by SPI (< 25% of children)
Tanzania, Central African Republic, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda, Senegal, Chad, Burundi, Mauritania, Angola, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Malawi