World Children’s Day

How many children are not enrolled in primary school globally?

Grades 5 - 12

World Children’s Day, which happens every year on November 20, has a different theme each year, and the 2023 theme is ‘For every child, every right.’ The day celebrates two key milestones. On November 20, 1959, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly. On the same date in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The preamble to the Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes that childhood is a phase of life deserving “special care and assistance.” Furthermore, the document asserts that children need "special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection." Throughout history, perceptions of childhood and the treatment of children have varied widely. These pivotal documents played a significant role in establishing a consistent and universal standard for the treatment of children, emphasizing the importance of providing them with care, protection, and rights.

In our World Children’s Day data visualization, we investigated the number of children around the world who are receiving a basic level of education.

To answer our question, we used two different datasets:

Visualizing the data

First, we plotted the percentage of the world’s population under the age of 14 from 1960 to 2022.

The graph illustrates a consistent decline in the percentage of children of the total population worldwide since 1960, with a more pronounced decrease around 1980. [An interesting area for independent exploration would be to research world history and identify factors that explain this decline in the global child population.]

Next, we plotted the number of primary school-age children who are not enrolled in school around the world. The blue line represents data from the most recent year, while the orange line represents the 20-year average for that country.

From the visualization above, it is clear that some countries have a considerably higher number of primary school-age children who are not enrolled in school than others. Notably, Tunisia, Niger, and Bahrain show particularly high numbers of students not enrolled in primary school.

  • What could be a possible explanation for the higher number of primary school-age children who are not enrolled in school?
    What similar characteristics might be shared among countries where the number of children not enrolled in primary school is higher?

For further insight, you can investigate factors that may correlate with a higher number of children not attending school. Based on the graph above, do you think countries are taking steps to have more children attend primary school?

To extend your understanding, you may wish to have a discussion with your classmates or others about the quotes we shared from the “Convention of the Rights of the Child.” What interpretations do you attribute to those quotes, and how do you think this document has influenced the treatment of children?

We hope you found this data visualization interesting and it inspired good conversation on this important topic!

Reflect on what you see

Look and interact with the data visualizations above. When you hover your mouse over the plots, you’ll notice that more information appears. Clicking on the legend of the graphs will also make the respective plots appear or disappear.

Think about the following questions.

  • What do you notice about the graph?
  • What do you wonder about the data?

Use the fill-in-the-blank prompts to summarize your thoughts.

  • “I used to think _______”
  • “Now I think _______”
  • “I wish I knew more about _______”
  • “These data visualizations remind me of _______”
  • "I really like _______”

Learn how we visualized the data

Go to our walk-through (in Jupyter notebook format) to see how the data science process was applied to create these graphs, from formulating a question to gathering the data and analyzing the data with code.