Six out of ten children and adolescents are unable to meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, according to the UIS. A new paper presents the methodology used to produce these estimates and the rationale for developing a global composite indicator. 

Entitled Counting the Number of Children Not Learning: Methodology for a Global Composite Indicator for Education, the paper explains how the UIS produced the global and regional estimates that bring together the quantity and quality dimensions of the education process to reflect the new SDG 4 agenda. This work directly responds to the call of partners, such as the Education Commission in its report The Learning Generation to develop a simple global indicator to serve as an advocacy tool for the global education goal. 

Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) seeks to provide inclusive and equitable quality education for all, going beyond the concept of just having children in classrooms to actually measuring if they reach a minimum level of learning, whether in or out of school. Although the indicator is new, the UIS built on existing national and regional learning assessments to produce a comparable, global number:

This figure signals a global learning crisis, pushing governments to review their education policies and implement reforms in order to reach commitments made towards the SDGs. While there is a long list of indicators to monitor progress towards SDG 4, having a global, composite statistic allows for easier communication and greater clarity about the quality of education or access to school across the world.

The data used to produce the new global indicator on education have been published in a new database, which presents the learning outcomes of primary and secondary school-age children in more than 160 countries or territories. The results show that most children who are not learning are in school.