Countries Where Children Do Not Finish Primary School

Not all children around the world are able to attend primary school.
Not all children around the world are able to attend primary school.

Fewer than half of all young boys enrolling in school end up completing primary education in some countries. The dropout rates of young males are common in developing countries where the incidence of poverty among the citizens is high. An estimated 11.07 million children in the Sub-Saharan Africa alone don’t finish primary school, and boys are more likely to drop out of school than girls. A high number of uneducated boys are lead to increasing levels of crime as seen in some of these countries. Countries with a low rate of males completing their primary education are looked at below.


Of all the boys enrolled in primary school in Mozambique, only 31% of complete their primary education. Since 2003, Mozambique has embarked on efforts to improve access to education for all children. Efforts to increase educational facilities have, however, lagged behind leading to a situation where there are a few classrooms and inadequate teachers for a large population of children. Overcrowding in class facilities and absenteeism by teachers was one of the causes of dropout. Distance from school especially in rural areas caused many boys to abandon school altogether.

Portuguese is the primary language for teaching, and most of the boys admitted are not familiar with it causing frustration and subsequent dropout. These dropouts affect literacy rates such that despite the high intake of children in primary school, few can effectively read and write. Poverty levels in Mozambique continue to increase due to high illiteracy levels, especially among boys.


In Madagascar only 39% a male are able to complete their primary school. Poverty is one of the principal causes of the high rate of drop out by boys. In 2010, UNICEF estimated that 82% of children in Madagascar were living below the poverty line. Education is viewed as a luxury and not a fundamental right in most of the families. Boys are more often forced to drop out of school to work in places such as quarries and mines to earn income and support their families.

Madagascar has taken strides to improve education through construction of facilities and employment of teachers, but these efforts are effective because of high levels of poverty. High Illiteracy rates among boys make it hard for boys to break the cycle of poverty and consequently get into crime.


In Cambodia only of 41% of the male children will complete primary education. Cambodia has an estimated 95% enrollment rate in primary education because the government has embarked on improving the educational sector. Insufficient classrooms and poorly trained teachers affect the quality of education. Poverty is a leading cause for dropouts, and many boys drop out to work or because their families cannot cope with the burden and cost of education. Most children who are unable to keep up with the curriculum are also inclined to drop out. Child labor is also one of the main causes of the high dropout rate and boys in the urban areas are more likely to engage in begging or stealing to get money for their families. High illiteracy rates make it hard for boys to get out of poverty.


43% of boys enrolled in primary school in Guinea end up completing. In 2011, the poverty level in Guinea was at an estimated 58%. Poverty is a leading cause for dropout as young boys start working to earn income and support their families. School-related expenses are a burden to poor households, especially in the rural areas. Distance to school which is often far also contributes to high dropout levels by children.

Guinea has faced political instability in the past few years and has affected the education system in the country. The low literacy levels are contributing to boys engaging in crimes such as armed gangs and burglary in an effort to gain money, albeit illicitly.

Poverty a Common Thread Among These Nations

Other countries with a low male survival rates to the end of their primary education include Burundi, where only 47% make it through, followed by Togo (54%), Lesotho (58%), Niger (63%, Burkina Faso (65%), and Nepal (68%). These countries are developing countries faced with a substantial level of poverty among their citizens. Poverty forces boys to drop out of school and work and this leads to rampant child labor. An educated workforce is needed to propel these countries to economic development and therefore there is the need to address the low male rate survival in primary school.

Countries Where Boys Starting School Are Least Likely To Complete Primary Education

RankCountryMale Survival Rate to the End of Primary School
9Burkina Faso65%

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