Indicator 33. Primary completion rates for girls and boys

Rationale and definition:

Primary completion is measured by the Gross Intake Ratio, which is the total number of new entrants who reach the last grade of primary education (according to the International Standard Classification of Education or ISCED 20111), regardless of age, expressed as percentage of the total population of the theoretical entrance age to the last grade of primary. Primary education is defined by ISCED 2011 as programs typically designed on a unit or project basis to provide pupils with fundamental skills in reading, writing and mathematics along with an elementary understanding of other subjects such as history, geography, natural science, social science, art, and music.

The Gross Intake Ratio to Last Grade of primary reports on the current primary access to last grade, stemming from previous years’ of schooling and past education policies on entrance to primary education. It is a measure of first-time completion of primary education as it excludes pupils repeating the last grade. A high Gross Intake Ratio to Last Grade denotes a high degree of completion of primary education. As this calculation includes all new entrants to last grade (regardless of age), the Gross Intake Ratio may exceed 100%, due to over-aged or under-aged pupils entering the last grade of primary school for the first time.2


It is particularly important to disaggregate data for this indicator by sex, income, disability, region, and household income quintile, with particular attention to children in regions of conflict, since children in such regions are at greatest risk of dropping out of the schooling system.

Comments and limitations:

Since the primary completion rate is typically a lagging rather than leading indicator when looking at factors affecting entry to school, it will be important to find other ways to measure progress on entry barriers.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Administrative data is preferred, and fairly easily available. It can be complemented with household surveys.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. See ISCED 2011.

  2. As defined by UN DESA for the MDG Indicators.