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Net Attendance Rate

Indicator Phrasing

% of enrolled children attending school or learning space in [specify the time period]
See indicator in other languages

Indicator Phrasing

English: % of enrolled children attending school or learning space in [specify the time period]

French: % d'enfants inscrits qui ont fréquenté l'école ou un espace d'apprentissage en [précisez la période]

Spanish: % of enrolled children attending school or learning space in [specify the time period]

Portuguese: % de estudantes matriculados que frequentaram a escola ou o espaço de aprendizagem em [especificar o período de tempo]

Czech: % zapsaných dětí navštěvujících školu nebo vzdělávací prostor v [uveďte časové období]

What is its purpose?

A high attendance rate is one of the prerequisites for effectiveness of any education intervention. The indicator compares the proportion of children attending a school or learning space during a given time period compared to the number of children enrolled.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Keeping a daily record of child attendance is among teachers' and school or learning space administrators’ duties. Ideally, these records are used to measure attendance rates. To do this:

  1. Determine the overall number of children enrolled in the school or learning space (disaggregated), divided by classes, from the school or learning space administration or records. For example, 20 children are enrolled in the school/learning space. Choose a specific point at which the data should be collected i.e. the start of the project, the start of the school year/NFE cycle, after the first 3 months of the school year (when numbers are more established), etc. that works best for the project. Where the action/activity being measured continues or builds on a previous project or intervention, consider utilising the previous data as a baseline or to measure ongoing change and impact over a longer time period). See related indicator on ‘Enrolment’ for more information on how to measure enrolment.
  2. Determine how many days of classes/sessions there are in a given period of time. For example, there are 45 learning days during the semester/learning cycle.
  3. Calculate the overall number of possible ‘attendance days’ there are amongst all children in the learning space by multiplying the number of enrolled children by the number of learning days. For example, there are 20 children, all of whom should attend 45 learning days over the learning cycle (20 children x 45 days = 900 attendance days).
  4. Using the attendance records, count how many days in total children have attended the learning space. For example, of the 900 learning days, children have been present in the learning space on 850 days (amongst all the children, 50 days have been missed; this could be, for example, one child missing 50 days, 2 children each missing 25 days, or 5 children, each missing 10 days).
  5. Calculate the overall net attendance rate by dividing the number of attended days in a given period (850 days) by the total number of attendance days (900 days) and multiply the result by 100. 850 / 900 = 0.94 x 100 = 94.44. So, the attendance rate in this example is 94.44%.


If school or learning space level attendance records are unavailable or unreliable, measure the attendance rate by doing spot-checks and headcounts based on the following methodology:

  1. At the beginning of the school year, NFE cycle or project period, collect the child enrolment data (see point 1 above).
  2. Perform a child headcount during surprise spot checks in target schools or learning spaces. At least 3 surprise spot checks should be conducted by project staff throughout the year/semester/project period, always focusing on the same classes. Increase the frequency if working in emergency contexts, capacity permitting.
  3. Calculate the average number of children present during the monitoring visits (e.g. 300 children present during the first visit, 250 during the second visit, 350 during the third visit - the average is 300 children).
  4. To calculate the overall net attendance rate, divide the average number of children present during the monitoring visits in a given period by the number of children enrolled in the monitored classes and multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

Disaggregate by

Disaggregation of the data can be done by age group, gender (refer to Important Comments below), level of education, ethnicity, mother tongue, wealth quintile, disability, displacement status and/or other specific vulnerable groups, as relevant.

Disaggregation of data by disability type should use the Washington Group Short Set on Functioning (or for actions with specialised responses to disabilities use the complete WG/UNICEF Child Functioning Module) or equivalent.

Important Comments

1) Whilst this indicator primarily measures attendance in schools and/or learning spaces, it can also be used to measure children’s attendance in other types of services/sessions such as psychosocial support (PSS)/NFE/life skills, etc.


2) If collecting baseline and endline data, try to do so in the same months (or even weeks) of a year – for example, if data is collected in the second week of October in one year, collect it in the same period the next year; otherwise, it is very likely that they will not be comparable.


3) Target attendance rates will vary by context and according to individual project or programme goals. When setting targets, it is important to consider what is realistic in the operational context whilst also ensuring that targets show an improvement from the status quo. For example, if current attendance rates are at 50%, the target rate ought to be higher than this (for example 60-70%) but is unlikely to be achievable if set too high (for example 90-100%). The indicator can also be adapted to measure the percentage of children who attend a minimum percentage of classes, for example ‘% of children who attended at least X% of classes/sessions/days in the given time period’.


4) When measuring overall attendance rates, children who have dropped out of the programming can be excluded from the calculations as it might skew the overall results.


5) Gender Ratio for School or Learning Space Attendance

The Gender Ratio for School or Learning Space Attendance (% of girls and boys attending formal/non-formal education in the given time period) can be calculated  using this guidance:

   a) Convert the percentages of girls vs boys attending a school or learning space to numerical value (for example, changing 82% to 0.82).

   b) Divide the fraction representing boys’ attendance by the fraction representing girls’ attendance (for example, 0.9 divided by 0.82).

   c) Interpret the result in the following way:

        - the closer the resulting ratio is to 1, the greater is the parity between girls’ and boys’ attendance.

        - a ratio greater than 1 indicates a disparity in favour of boys.

        - a ratio lower than 1 represents disparity in favour of girls.

   d) If the ratio shows significant disparity between boys’ and girls’ attendance, assess the reasons for such gender imbalance. This can be done by conducting semi-structured interviews with the school or learning space teachers, parents or caregivers and children. The number of conducted interviews depends on the information received – continue with interviews only until the respondents start repeating what was heard during the previous interviews and their responses do not provide any new insights (i.e. reaching data saturation). The enumerators can first interview the parent or caregiver (ensuring that the child does not hear the interview) and then request the parent or caregiver to conduct a brief interview with the child (ensuring that the parent or caregiver does not listen to or observe the interview). The enumerators must be trained in the key principles of interviewing children. They should also be trained in unpacking the respondents’ answers. For example, during a survey in Lebanon, many parents or caregivers were listing „transportation” as a barrier to girls’ education, but the actual problems were 1) lack of money for transportation, 2) limited security during transportation, and 3) parents or caregivers not being comfortable sending their daughters to school or learning space alone by bus.  

   e) Whilst girls’ educational opportunities are often limited, it is important to remember that barriers exist to boys’ education (such as seasonal work, child labour, recruitment into armed groups). When collecting data related to this indicator, maintain an awareness of these gender differences and barriers.


6) Additional Guidance on Attendance Spot Checks

   a) The schools and learning spaces should be encouraged to collect reliable child attendance data. Always share the surprise spot check attendance data (headcount) with the school and learning space administration and the teachers.

   b) Selection of specific days for spot checks should consider weekends, holidays, and seasonal and other factors affecting regular attendance (e.g. harvest season in rural areas, local festivals and celebrations, culturally relevant holidays or fasting periods, etc.).

   c) The spot checks should be performed in all target schools or learning spaces (using only sample schools or learning spaces is not recommended) as the situation in individual schools or learning spaces can significantly vary


7) Related indicators: 


        - 2.1 Net attendance rate


        - KRI: number of targeted girls and boys enrolled in formal education services

        - KRI: number of targeted girls and boys enrolled in non-formal education services

        - KIO: % of targeted girls and boys who are retained in education at the end of the action/school years/non-formal education (NFE) cycle (see Retention Indicator)

     Global Education Cluster

        - % of emergency affected children and youth (5-18 yrs old) attending learning spaces/schools in affected areas

        - % of affected marginalised children (3-18 years) attending school

     Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

        - 4.2.2 Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex

        - 4.3.1 Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex

     Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPMS)

        - 23.2.4 Number and % of formal and non-formal learning centres that are accessible to children with disabilities

        - 23.2.5 % of identified school-aged children in target location attending school or other centres of learning


        - % of children who enrolled but did not complete grade or level [X] in the given school year/NFE cycle/project period (see Drop Out Rate indicator)

        - average number of school days lost due to children having diarrhoeal diseases in the past 30 days (see Number of School Days Lost Due to Diarrhoeal Diseases indicator)

This guidance was prepared by People in Need ©

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