The primary school graduation rate, also referred to as the primary completion rate, is the rate of the total number of students that successfully graduate (complete) the final year of primary school in a country within a given year. We can define the primary completion rate as being the number of primary school graduates divided by the number of children that have reached the primary school graduation age.
Similarly, the gross intake ratio for the last grade of primary school is defined as being the total number of new entrants in the last grade of primary school, regardless of their age, related to the total number of children that have achieved the right age for entering the last grade. The number of new entrants is defined as the total number of children in the last grade of primary school minus the number of the repeaters. Altogether, this leaves the gross intake ratio for the last grade of primary school as the number of children in the last grade of primary school minus repeaters divided to the total number of children that have the last primary grade entrance age.
The Relevance of Primary School Graduation Rates
These two rates, expressed as a percent of the relevant group ages, are important indicators of the development of educational systems within a given country. The rates also help us to better understand the social factors inhibiting or enhancing a population’s general welfare. These percentages are generally lower in developing countries that face socio-economic struggles that limit funding for education and inhibit policies conducive to pedagogic development.
The Worst Primary School Completion Rates Globally
World Bank Data states that South Sudan has the lowest primary school graduation rate globally at 37.37%. If we take a closer look to South Sudan’s education, we’ll discover a weak system facing many challenges. The education system is modeled after the Republic of Sudan, with 8 grades of primary education, followed by another 4 years of secondary school, with the official language of academic communications being English. However, due to the social contexts inherent to the country, the illiteracy rates are markedly high, and a great percent of the population cannot read or write. Females are especially prone to discrimination, and thusly South Sudan only has around 1 in 4 members of their school-age female populace attending school, and the lowest female literacy rate in the world. Even though the government has made efforts to improve the education system and enhance attendance, many children abandon school soon after enrollment. As far as educational infrastructure, South Sudan has a lack of educational spaces and qualified teachers, with the funds dedicated to education there being very low. Many ‘schools’ here are actually conducted outdoors, with no official structure to house them.
Chad closely follows South Sudan as having one of the lowest primary school graduation rates, standing at only 38.78%. The education system in the country follows the French model, with 6 years of primary education, followed by 7 years of secondary education. In Chad’s case also the tough social context determines a high rate of children leaving primary school after enrollment, and poor education conditions.
Low Basic Educations Levels Lead to Slow Economic Growth
Other countries with low primary school graduation are the Central African Republic (45.35%), Ethiopia (47.25%), Mozambique (49.25%), and Niger (49.59%). Other relevant data on the countries making this list clearly demonstrate that the low primary school graduation rates are often the confluence of poor education systems combined with challenging social contexts these countries face, including problems with ethnic and gender discrimination and low social valuations of learning. As these countries try to grow their economies, increased accessibility to education among the general population will increasingly become more of a limiting factor in reaching their economic potentials.