The proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5, known as the survival rate to grade 5, 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 grade 5.
Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education.
Target 3. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
The indicator measures an education system’s success in retaining students from one grade to the next as well as its internal efficiency. Various factors account for poor performance on this indicator, including low quality of schooling, discouragement over poor performance and the direct and indirect costs of schooling. Students’ progress to higher grades may also be limited by the availability of teachers, classrooms and educational materials.
Method of computation
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; promotion, repetition and drop-out rates 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.
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 students originally enrolled in grade 1 of primary education) and multiplying the result by 100. A description of the method is given at http://www.uis.unesco.org.
When estimated from household survey data the proportion is estimated as the product of the proportions of transition for each grade up to grade 5. The estimation follows the method of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A description of the method is given at http://www.childinfo.org.
Data collection and source
The indicator proposed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics is based on grade-specific enrolment data for two successive years for a country and on grade repeater data.
Household survey data are obtained from Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Demographic and Health Surveys in a standard way and include information on current and last year school grade and level of attendance.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Institute for Statistics, www.uis.unesco.org.
World Education Indicators (CD-ROM), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Education for All: Year 2000 Assessment, “Technical Guidelines”, 1998, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (
World Development Indicators, annual, World Bank (www.worldbank.org/data).
Monitoring Progress towards the Goals of the World Summit for Children: End-Decade Multiple Indicator Survey Manual, United Nations Children’s Fund (www.unicef.org/reseval/methodr.html).
The State of the World’s Children, annual, United Nations Children’s Fund (www.unicef.org/publications).
Human Development Report, annual, United Nations Development Programme (www.undp.org).
Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies, 2001, United Nations Division for Sustainable Development (www.un.org/esa/sustdev/natlinfo/indicators/isd.htm).
Periodicity of measurement
Where the data are available, they are published annually about two years after the reference year. Household surveys, such as Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Demographic and Health Surveys, are generally conducted every three to five years.
Frequency and drop-out patterns vary between girls and boys. Reasons for leaving school also differ for girls and boys, and by age. Families’ demand on children’s time to help in household-based work is an important factor and is often greater for girls. Also important for girls are security and proximity of school facilities and the availability of adequate sanitation and other services in schools.
Rural and urban differences are particularly important in the analysis of education data, because of significant differences in school facilities, available resources, demand on children’s time for work and drop-out patterns. It is also important to consider disaggregation by geographical area and social or ethnic groups. However, showing and analyzing data on specific ethnic groups may be a sensitive issue in the country. Gender differences may also be more pronounced in some social and ethnic groups.
International data comparisons
Comparable survival rates are produced by UNESCO for about 40 percent of countries based on data from national administrative records. The number of countries reporting data for this indicator has increased over time in part because of recent inclusion of estimates obtained from household surveys such as Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Demographic and Health Surveys.
Comments and limitations
The method of computation has limits in measuring the degree to which school entrants survive through primary education because flows caused by new entrants, re-entrants, grade skipping, migration or transfers during the school year are not considered.
Wherever possible, the indicator should be complemented by grade 1 intake rate, because together the indicators give a much better sense of the proportion of children in the population who complete primary education.
Ministries of education.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Institute for Statistics.