A world unprepared: Missing skills for development

Sarah Gust
Eric A. Hanushek
Ludger Woessmann
Published Date
December 2022

The world distribution of basic skills can be summarized in six stylized facts: 1. At least two thirds of the world’s youth do not obtain basic skills. 2. The share of children not reaching basic skills exceeds half in 101 countries and rises above 90 percent in 36 of these countries. 3. Even in high-income countries, a quarter of children lacks basic skills. 4. Skill deficits reach 94 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 89 percent in South Asia but also hit 68 percent in Middle East and North Africa and 65 percent in Latin America. 5. While skill gaps are most apparent for the third of global youth not attending secondary school, fully 62 percent of the world’s secondary-school students fail to reach basic skills. 6. Half of the world’s youth live in the 35 countries that fail to participate in international tests and thus lack regular and reliable foundational performance information.