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Long Path to Achieving Education for All: School Access, Retention, and Learning in 20 Countries
The last decades have seen an impressive growth in school participation in developing countries. As countries have made remarkable progress towards universal primary school completion, the focus in the development community has shifted to reaching the most disadvantaged populations, and improving the quality of education. Is school access truly universal? And now that most children are in school, do we know whether they are actually learning? In a recent brief, Long Path to Achieving Education for All: School Access, Retention, and Learning in 20 Countries, EPDC uses learning pyramids to show cumulative achievement of the school systems in 20 selected countries by demonstrating how many children enroll in school, whether they remain enrolled until they reach a certain grade, and what percentage of them learn how to read. We find that although access to education is close to universal in most countries, not all of the students that enter a school system reach upper primary grades. Grade repetition is a common experience for a vast majority of primary students, creating large inefficiencies and added strain on education systems. Finally, a significant proportion of those who reach the upper primary grades never gain basic literacy skills, the lowest benchmark of a standardized learning assessment.