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According to UNESCO's Regional overview on sub-Saharan Africa, in 2000 only 58% of children were enrolled in primary schools, the lowest enrollment rate of any region. UNESCO also reported marked gender inequalities: in most parts of Africa there is much higher enrolment by boys, but in some there are actually more girls, due to sons having to stay home and tend to the family farm. Africa has more than 40 million children, almost half the school-age child population, receiving no schooling. Two-thirds of these are girls. The USAID Center reports as of 2005, forty percent of school-aged children in Africa do not attend primary school and there are still 46 million African children that have never stepped into a classroom.
This report shows besides that secondary (lower and higher levels) and higher education enrollments have progressed proportionally more than primary enrollment over the period 1990 – 2002/2003 which questions the reality of policy priority given to primary education. The strong pressure for educational continuity from the majority already benefiting from schooling explains this trend. To this must be added the weakness of mechanisms regulating pupil flow between the different levels of education system.