Education Indicators and Data Analysis
UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Postal Address:C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Canada H3C 3J7
Telephone: (1-514) 343-7620
Fax: (1-514) 343-5740
Talal El Hourani
Telephone: (1-514) 343-7694
The proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary education, known as the Survival Rate to last Grade of primary, is the percentage of a cohort of pupils enrolled in grade 1 of the primary level of education in a given school year who are expected to reach the last grade of primary school, regardless of repetition.
Primary education is defined by International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED97) as programmes normally designed on a unit or project basis to give pupils a sound basic education in reading, writing and mathematics along with an elementary understanding of other subjects such as history, geography, natural science, social science, art and music.
The indicator is typically estimated from data on enrolment and repetition by grade for two consecutive years, in a procedure called the reconstructed cohort method. This method makes three assumptions: drop-outs never return to school; the promotion, repetition and drop-out rates observed in the last two years remain constant over the entire period in which the cohort is enrolled in school; and the same rates apply to all pupils enrolled in a given grade, regardless of whether they previously repeated a grade.
This method requires data on the number of enrolments and repeaters in each grade of primary education in two consecutive school years.
The calculation is made by dividing the total number of pupils belonging to a school cohort who reach each successive grade of the specified level of education by the number of pupils in the school cohort (in this case the students originally enrolled in grade 1 of primary education) and multiplying the result by 100.
The indicator measures an education system’s success in retaining students from one grade to the next as well as its internal efficiency. It illustrates the situation regarding retention of pupils from grade to grade in schools, and conversely the magnitude of dropout by grade. Survival Rates approaching 100% indicate a high level of retention and low incidence of dropout. It is important to note that it does not imply that all children of school age complete primary education. The Survival Rate is a percentage of a cohort of pupils (i.e. children who have already entered school) and not a percentage of children of school age.
Various factors account for poor performance on this indicator, including low quality of schooling, high levels of grade repetition and the direct and indirect costs of schooling. Students’ progress to higher grades may also be limited by the availability of teachers, classrooms and/or educational materials.
Since the calculation of this indicator is based on pupil-flow rates, the reliability of the Survival Rate depends on the consistency of data on enrolment and repeaters in terms of coverage over time and across grades.
Given that this indicator is usually estimated using cohort analysis models that are based on a number of assumptions, care should be taken in using the results in comparisons. The method of computation has limitations in measuring the true degree to which school entrants survive through primary education because flows caused by re-entrants, grade skipping, migration or transfers during the school year are not adequately captured.
To complete the picture of primary completion, the indicator should be complemented by the intake rate to grade 1, because together these two indicators give a much better sense of the proportion of children in the population who complete primary education.
Country figures may differ from the international ones because of differences between the national education system and ISCED97; or differences in coverage (i.e. the extent to which different types of education – e.g. private or special education – or different types of programmes e.g. adult education or early childhood care and education - are included in one rather than the other).
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) produces time series on school enrolment and repeaters based on data reported by education ministries or national statistical offices. These data are gathered through questionnaires sent annually to countries which are typically completed by ministries of education and/or national statistical offices. Countries are asked to report data according to the levels of education defined in ISCED97 to ensure international comparability of resulting indicators.
The data received by UIS are validated using electronic error detection systems that check for arithmetic errors & inconsistencies and trend analysis for implausible results. Queries are taken up with the country representatives reporting the data in order that corrections can be made (of errors) or explanations given (of implausible but correct results).
In addition, countries also have an opportunity to see and comment on the main indicators the UIS produces in an annual “country review” of indicators.
The UIS also, if necessary, adjusts nationally reported data in order to take account either of under-reporting (i.e. data gaps) or over-reporting (i.e. inclusion of education programmes not covered by its surveys) before calculating indicators. In such cases, the results – if published – will normally be designated as UIS estimates (denoted by ** in UIS publications).
For the purposes of calculating the primary Net Enrolment Rate, the UIS estimates certain key items of data that may be missing or incomplete
The UIS may need to make one or more of the following:
Over-reporting is corrected first, then under-reporting before estimating more detailed breakdowns of data such as the distributions of enrolments or repeaters by grade. Over- and under-reporting are typically adjusted by adding or subtracting a given percentage of enrolments thus assuming the same grade and sex distribution as for the reported enrolments.
The Survival Rate to last Grade of primary is available for around 125 countries.
Survival rates produced by the UIS are available on an annual basis. Data are published 27 months after the end of the school reference year for countries with calendar school year and 33 montghs for countries with split school year, as the indicator is referenced to the earlier of the two years on which the reconstructed cohort method is based. A few countries, mainly from the second group, report more up-to-date data to the Institute and these are published more quickly (21 months after the end of the school year).
No regional and global averages are calculated for this indicator.
The UIS Education data is disseminated twice a year: country data are released in April and are updated with new countries’ submission on September.