Percent of women who have completed at least four years of schooling

Percent of women who have completed at least four years of schooling

Percent of women who have completed at least four years of schooling

This indicator measures the percent of women ages 15- 49 who have completed at least a primary level of education. For different countries, primary education may vary from four years to eight to ten years.

This indicator is calculated as:

(# of women ages 15-49 who completed four years or more of schooling / Total # of women ages 15-49) x 100

Data Requirement(s):

Information on the number of women ages 15-49 who completed primary school and information on the total number of women ages 15-49 surveyed

Population-based survey such as the DHS or RHS

Educational attainment of populations vary greatly among countries. For example, in India, where educational attainment of women is very low, even a measure, such as the percentage of women who are literate can suffice. On the other hand, in countries such as Kazakhstan or Colombia where primary education is almost universal, a more appropriate measure may be the percentage of women who have completed high school or the indicator, percent of women who have completed at least 10 years of education.

This indicator is preferable to the percentage of women who have completed primary school, since the number of years required to complete primary schooling varies by country (e.g., five years in Egypt, eight years in Kenya). One must also be wary of calculating completion rates for 15-19 year olds, as many are still in school and, in sub-Saharan Africa, many are still in primary school because of the late age of entry into school and because of having to repeat the grade.

Further analysis of this indicator by age group can provide some indication of a changing climate for female education. Specifically, one would expect women 25-29 to have completed more schooling than older age cohorts have.

Because four years of schooling is now seen as a bare minimum, this is essentially an indicator of literacy whereas the other core indicator, completion of at least 10 years of education, is more of a measure of real educational change and prospect for empowerment.

women’s status, empowerment

Girls account for more than half of primary school-age children out of school (UNICEF, 2013).  Deeply entrenched structural inequalities and disparities are part of what keeps children out of school. Some groups of children are particularly at risk of not attending or completing school, such as children from poorer families, those in remote rural communities, girls, children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities, children undertaking paid or domestic labor, children from ethnic or other minority groups and children in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters (UNGEI, 2008). Those affected by inequality, especially girls and children living in extreme poverty and isolated areas and belonging to socially disadvantaged groups, have less access to education because they live in areas where there are no schools, and if they exist they cannot cover the costs, or children do not relate to the content being taught, or simply are discriminated against.

Greater equity and inclusion in education are therefore now a priority in many countries so all children can realize their potential and aspirations through education.

Educational attainment is important to gender equity for multiple reasons. It provides women with greater self-confidence and with power of logic to operate in an increasingly complex world. It gives them the cognitive skills and training necessary for participation in the workforce. It exposes them to non-traditional ways of thinking and provides alternative modes for behavior. Though education will not guarantee gender equity, it is an essential step toward it.

UNICEF:  Accessed April 17, 2013.

United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).  “Equity and Inclusion
in Education: Tools to support education sector planning and evaluation”. April, 2008.