Muslim Statistics (Education and Employment)

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This page contains statistics concerning education and employment among Muslims. For further statistics of a related nature, see Health & Disability and Alcohol & Drugs. Some statistics covering terrorism against educational institutions can be found in Terrorism




Note that the breakup of the Ottoman Turkish empire resulted in about 40 new countries, including 22 Arab states.[1]

The Ottomans had their virtues, but they were no friends to public education, independent news media and the printed word. Ottoman culture favored the oral tradition, expressed in gorgeous poetry and music, and integrated the revered calligraphy of the Koran into every possible visual art form, from painting and ceramics to architecture and metalwork. But literacy languished, particularly among Muslim Arab populations. According to historian Donald Quataert, general Muslim literacy rates were only 2 to 3 percent in the early nineteenth century, and perhaps 15 percent at its end. The vast majority of Muslim women remained illiterate well into the twentieth century. Prior to 1840, an average of only eleven books a year were published in the imperial capital of Istanbul.[2]
Books and printed matter in Turkish and Arabic were unknown before the end of the 18th century, and even then they were of limited impact because of widespread illiteracy. Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition established a Hebrew printing press about 1494. Armenians had a press in 1567, and Greeks had press in 1627. These presses were not allowed to print in Turkish or in Arabic characters, owing to objections of the religious authorities. One result of this delay was to give Greeks, Armenians and Jews an advantage in literacy, and therefore an advantage in commerce, and in having a means to preserve and propagate their culture, that was denied to Turks and Arabs. The major result was to retard the development of modern literate society, commerce and industry. The first Turkish printing press in the Ottoman Empire was not established until 1729. It was closed in 1742 and reopened in 1784. The press operated under heavy censorship throughout most of the Ottoman era. Elections were unknown of course, though government decisions were usually reached by consultation of the government, provincial chiefs and religious authorities.[1]

Modern Day

the whole Arab world translates about three hundred books annually–one fifth the number that Greece alone translates; investment in research and development is less than one seventh the world average; and Internet connectivity is worse than in sub-Saharan Africa.[3]
August 2002
Fifty-seven Muslim majority countries have an average of ten universities each for a total of less than 600 universities for 1.4 billion people; India has 8,407 universities, the U.S. has 5,758.
. . .
Of the 1.4 billion Muslims 800 million are illiterate (6 out of 10 Muslims cannot read). In Christendom, adult literacy rate stands at 78 percent.[4]
November 2005
Large numbers of children in African and Arab countries are still shut out of classrooms, with primary school participation at below 60% in 17 OIC countries. More than half the adult population is illiterate in some countries, and the proportion is as high as 70% among women. Four out of 10 children in the African sub-region are out of school, as are a quarter of children in Arab member states.
. . .
Only 26 out of 57 OIC members are on course to achieve the primary education gender equality targets for 2005.[5]
November 2005
The 57-member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) have around 500 universities compared with more than 5,000 universities in the US and more than 8,000 in India. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an "Academic Ranking of World Universities", and none of the universities from Muslim-majority states was included in the top 500.[6]
May 2007
The 2002 United Nations Arab Development Report, compiled by leading Arab scholars and intellectuals, reported that fewer than 350 books were translated into Arabic every year, less than one-fifth the number translated into Greek. The 2003 report added that the 10,000 books translated into Spanish every year exceeded those translated into Arabic— over the entire millennium.[2]
With an average adult literacy rate of 71.7% in 2010, OIC countries as a group lagged well behind the world average of 80.1% and also the other developing countries' average of 82.5%.[7]

Arab World

Nearly half of all women in the Arab world are illiterate

Nearly one in three people in the Arab world is illiterate, including nearly half of all women in the region, the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation (Alecso) said Monday.

Three-quarters of the 100 million people unable to read or write in the 21 Arab countries are aged between 15 and 45 years old, Alecso said in a statement.

Equally alarming, some 46.5% of women in the region are illiterate, the organisation reported, urging governments to put the fight against illiteracy at the top of their agendas.[8]
January 2008


Two thirds of all immigrant school children with Arabic backgrounds are illiterate after 10 years in the Danish school system:

Those who speak Arabic with their parents have an extreme tendency to lack reading abilities - 64 percent are illiterate. ... No matter if it concerns reading abilities, mathematics or science, the pattern is the same: The bilingual (largely Muslim) immigrants' skills are exceedingly poor compared to their Danish classmates.[9]
May 2007


There has been a growing concern about the lack of educational qualifications of Muslims in India. While so far statistical information was lacking, the Census of India 2001 for the first time gives detailed educational data across religious groups.

Made available to INDIA TODAY exclusively, the findings are disheartening. The facts irrefutably demonstrate that, on an average, Muslim men and women are far less educationally accomplished than their non-Muslim counterparts, and this is so across almost every state in India.
. . .
In 2001, only 55 per cent of India's 71 million Muslim males were literate, compared to 64.5 per cent for the country's 461 million non-Muslim men. Less than 41 per cent of the country's 67 million Muslim females were literate, versus 46 per cent of India's 430 million non-Muslim women.

In proportional terms, the all-India Muslim male literacy rate was 15 per cent lower than that of non-Muslim males; this percentage difference increased to 17 per cent in urban India.

Far more serious was the percentage difference in literacy rates between Muslim females and their non-Muslim sisters -an 11 per cent disadvantage at the all-India level increased to over 19 per cent in urban India.

At the basic level of being 'literate', Muslim women were proportionately 11 per cent worse off than non-Muslims. The difference widened to 19 per cent for those educated up to middle school; to 35 per cent for those who studied up to Class X; 45 per cent for those who learnt up to Class XII; and 63 per cent for those who were graduates and above.[10]
August 2006
Muslims, India's largest religious minority, are "lagging behind" on most things that matter.
. . .

Educational disparities were among the most striking. Among Muslims, Shariff said, the literacy rate is about 59 percent, compared with more than 65 percent among Indians as a whole. On average, a Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, against a national average of four years.

Less than 4 percent of Muslims graduate from school, compared with 6 percent of the total population. Less than 2 percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology are Muslim. Equally revealing, only 4 percent of Muslim children attend madrasas, Shariff said.[11]
November 2006
The first is the high drop­out rate among Mus­lim students. It is below even SC/ST students, who are generally considered the most educationally backward communities.

6% of girl students are forced to stop their education as parents think that there is no need for them to be educated.

The transition rate of Muslim students from class VII to VIII is very low compared to other communities.[12]
September 2013


The global standing of Indonesia’s universities has dropped according to the latest world rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds. The University of Indonesia, remains No. 1 in the country, but is only ranked 273rd globally.
. . .

US and British universities dominated the top 20 in this year’s list, while ETH Zurich was the only university from a non-English speaking country that landed in top 20.

The University of Hong Kong came in as the best performing university in Asia, securing 23rd place, followed by the National University of Singapore at 25th. The Australian National University was also among best performers in the region, finishing in 24th place.

The University of Indonesia was the only Indonesian institution in the top 300, but fell from 217th from last year to 273rd. [13]
September 2012


Illiteracy among Nigerian women of child-bearing age is three times as high among Muslims (71.9%) as among others (23.9%). Two-thirds of Nigerian Muslim women lack any formal education; that goes for just over a tenth of their non-Muslim sisters.[14]
January 2011


Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel while addressing the inaugural ceremony showed his concern over the literacy rate in Pakistan which he said is amongst the lowest in the world. The actual literacy rate in Pakistan is hovering around 30% while this rate is around 15% in the tribal areas and the female literacy rate in tribal areas is around 5%.[15]
December 2011
Fata comprises of some of the least developed areas of the country, according to official figures, with the literacy rate for women standing at barely three per cent.[16]
January 2012
Pakistan ranks second in the global ranking of countries with the highest number of out-of-school children with the figure estimated to be about 25 million. Seven million have yet to receive some form of primary schooling. As many as 9,800 schools were reportedly affected in Sindh and Balochistan due to floods. Around 600,000 children of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are reported to have missed one or more years of education due to ongoing militancy.

Pakistan has the lowest youth literacy rate. Only 59 percent females are literate as compared to 79 percent of males in the age group of 15 to 24 years. There are around 51.2 million adult illiterates in Pakistan. Only 65 percent schools have drinking water facilities, 62 percent have toilet facilities, 61 percent have a boundary wall and only 39 percent have electricity.[17]
September 2012

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the lack of books is accompanied by the struggle to modernize basic educational institutions. In his new book, Prophets and Princes, Mark Weston points out that Saudi Arabia did not have a high school until after 1930, and its first girls’ school was established after 1950. The Saudis have only 250 public libraries to serve a population of 26 million people, and there were no hours for female readers until 2006. The Saudis spend many millions of dollars translating and publishing the Quran into other languages, without devoting similar efforts to making foreign books available in Arabic.[2]


The deputy chairman of Tajikistan's State Committee for Religious Affairs said Friday the country has more mosques than schools.

Mavlon Mukhtorov said official figures show there are 3,425 regular mosques, 344 cathedral mosques, and 40 central cathedral mosques.

Mukhtorov said on February 16 his ministry issued permits for 45 new mosques to be built in different parts of the country.

Tajikistan's Education Ministry reports there are 3,793 schools, most of them overcrowded, and in many cases one classroom has up to 40 students.[18]
February 2012


Pollster Adil Gür of A&G polling company interviewed 3,252 women in 42 provinces across Turkey on the subject of gender-based violence, reported on Friday.
. . .
Ten out of every 100 women in Turkey over the age of 18 are illiterate. Approximately 30 percent of women surveyed graduated from high school, and only 9 percent have a college degree. Twenty out of every 100 women over the age of 44 are illiterate.[19]
March 2012
Moroğlu [the head of the Turkish Association of University Women (TÜKD)] stated that only 2 percent of women have access to a university education, which is far below EU standards. She further stated that every two out of 10 women are still illiterate in Turkey.[20]
November 2012

United Kingdom

People of working age with no qualifications2004.gif
People of working age with no qualifications: by religion, 2004, GB

In 2004 a third (33 per cent) of Muslims of working age in Great Britain had no qualifications – the highest proportion for any religious group. They were also the least likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications (12 per cent).[21]

Percentage with a degree 2004, GB.gif
Percentage of 16 to 30 year olds with a degree: by religion and country of birth, 2004, GB

February 2006
30 per cent of pupils of Pakistani origin gained 5 or more GCSE grades A-C in 2000, compared with 50 per cent of the total population

1in3 Muslims has no qualifications, the highest for an ethnic group in Britain. They also have the lowest proportion of degrees or other higher qualifications[22]
July 2006
A large part of this, of course, reflects the lack of educational qualifications among the first generation of migrants. However, Daleetal. (2002) suggest that Muslim groups, such as Pakistani and Bangladeshis, are most likely to have to retake exams to gain qualifications.
. . .
There appears to be an Asian polarisation with pupils of Indian origin doing very well and pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin performing poorly in comparison to other minority groups while at the same time doing better than their socio-economic position would suggest... Figures for 2006 show that Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils perform below the national average at Key Stages 1 and 2, and at GCSE attainment including English and mathematics. For example, at Key Stage 1 Reading, 77 per cent of Pakistani pupils and 78 per cent of Bangladeshi pupils achieved the expected level compared to 84 per cent nationally... Pakistani pupils’ relative attainment at GCSE and equivalent is six percentage points below the national figure, 50.9 per cent compared with 56.9 per cent, rising to nine per cent when English and mathematics are included.[23]

United States

[According to a Gallup Institute study involving 300,000 people] American Muslims for the most part have lower incomes, less education and fewer jobs than the population as a whole.[24]
March 2009


A shocking 65% of married Yemeni women aged between 15 and 24 are illiterate

According to the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by Ministry of Public Health and Population in September 2006....illiteracy among mothers, the health ministry’s survey shows that on average 35 percent of married Yemeni women aged between 15 and 24 are literate, with 59 percent of married women in urban areas and 26 percent of married women in rural areas being able to read and write.[25]
November 2008



...Unemployment remained one of the most serious problems facing the OIC countries. According to the latest available data during the period 2007-2011, the average unemployment rates in the OIC countries were significantly higher than the world average and the averages of the developed and other developing countries. During this period, total unemployment rate in OIC countries increased from a level of 9.4% in 2007 to 9.9% in 2011.[26]
November 2013

Middle East

The Middle East is the region with the highest rate of unemployment in the world, confirmed the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which reports that unemployment in the region is 10.3% compared to 6.2% on average globally. The situation presented in "Global Employment Trends 2011" is even more dramatic when looking at the young segment of the population up to the age of 25, where the unemployment rate is estimated to be 40%. The data published by the UN agency raised a further alarm for a region that has already been observing popular insurrection and protests with cries for "more bread, more work" in recent weeks.[27]
January 2011
Around three quarters of Arab youth want to migrate to countries out of their region due to rising unemployment in Arab states, an Arab League official said.

"Due to their poor participation in society and politics and to rising joblessness, 70 per cent of the Arab youth want to migrate out of the region," Khalid Al Wahishi, director of Population Policy and Immigration at Arab League, said.

"We at Arab League have been warning member states at all our meetings to empower the youth. Unemployment, alarmingly high at 26 per cent, poor participation of youth and illiteracy are major hindrances to population policy development and implementation," Al Wahishi told delegates at a gathering of population experts from member-countries in Qatar.[28]
November 2011


Unemployment rate in Queensland:

Muslims - 10.9%
Non-Muslims - 4.7%

Research shows the unemployment rate of Australian Muslim women is over three times higher than Australian-born females from English speaking populations.[29]


In Denmark, Muslims make up 5% of the population but receive 40% of social-welfare outlays. Their preachers have told them, Mr. Bawer reports, that only a fool would not take maximum advantage of the bounty that Western Europe offers...[30]
February 2006
90 percent of applicants for economic help to celebrate Christmas [in North Als] are Muslims[31]
November 2012


Foreign nationals are consistently overrepresented in unemployment figures. Turkish nationals are in the worst situation; they have an unemployment rate of 23 per cent and comprise up to one third of all unemployed foreigners.[32]
Talina (11), Svenja (11) and Jason (9) do not understand a word spoken on the playground. Their classmates speak only Turkish or Arabic. In class, the three of them explain German words to their classmates.

They are the last German children at their school, The Jens Nydahl elementary school on Kohlfurter street (Kreuzberg). 99% of the 313 students are from an immigration background. The parents of 285 of them are financially supported by the state. One of the many school problems Bild reported on.[33]
September 2011


In the famed national bureaucracy, the Indian Administrative Service, Muslims made up only 2 percent of officers in 2006. Among district judges in 15 states surveyed, 2.7 percent were Muslim.
. . .
The gaps in employment are likely to be among the most politically explosive. Muslims appear to be overrepresented among day laborers and street vendors and underrepresented in the public sector. Muslims secured about 15 percent of government jobs, considerably less than the share filled by "backward" castes and dalits, who were considered "untouchables" in the Hindu caste system.[11]
November 2006
The survey [by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Centre] revealed that 47 per cent of Indian Muslims said it was difficult to survive on their incomes, compared with 39 per cent of Hindus..
. . .
More than 9,500 Indians, including 1,197 Muslims, were interviewed face-to-face last year and this year for the poll.[34]
December 2011
Among religious groups, Sikhs have lowest poverty ratio in rural areas at 11.9 per cent, whereas in urban areas, Christians have the lowest proportion of poor at 12.9 per cent. Poverty ratio is the highest for Muslims, at 33.9 per cent, in urban areas.[35]
March 2012

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the youth unemployment rate in 2009 was over 30%. Other areas that need to be assisted with large investments, according to ILO analysts, include SMEs and the private sector.[27]
January 2011
A study conducted by Booz and Co. for global management and strategy consultation, showed that 78.3% of female university graduates in Saudi Arabia are unemployed as well as over 1,000 Ph.D. holders.

According to the report, thousands of women graduate from Saudi universities each year who fail to find a job due to their area of specialization which were described as “routine” and “theoretical.” Women’s studies, the report added, are almost restricted to education and health.

The study explained that since 1992, female participation in the job market in Saudi has increased by three fold as it leaped from 5.4% to 14.4%. The number, however, remains the lowest in the Gulf region, according to Saudi newspaper al-Sharq.[36]
June 2012


42% of Moroccan immigrants are jobless, but remain in Spain. Note that 99% of Moroccans are Muslim.[37]

They are staying on in Spain whether they have jobs or not. Immigrants from Morocco, the largest foreign group resident in Spain, is also the one most affected by unemployment. Of the more than one million unemployed persons of foreign origins registered as living is Spain at the end of 2009, around 350,000 are of Moroccan nationality. This is 42.4% of the community of 775,054 immigrants from Morocco with residence permits. These figures come from the 4th survey of immigration and the job market, which has been issued by the Ministry of Labour and Immigration and is quoted in today's edition of the daily ABC.[38]
August 2010


[According to a government study] Some 23.4 percent of women have been forced by men to quit their jobs or have been prevented from working; in the lower-income category, this figure is 21.5 percent while it is 21.2 percent for those with higher incomes.[39]
February 2011

United Kingdom

Muslim men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background are disproportionately unemployed relative to other Asians, according to a Cabinet Office report commissioned by Tony Blair. Even after allowances for education and residential area, Pakistani Muslims are three times more likely to be jobless than Hindus are. Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed than Indian Hindus are.

Downing Street commissioned the study from the Performance and Innovation Unit, whose brief was to come up with ways of improving the economic performance of ethnic minorities.
. . .
Hindus are four times less likely to be unemployed than Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims[40]
February 2002
In 2004 the unemployment rate among economically active Muslim men (13 per cent) was twice the rate of Sikh (7 per cent) or Hindu (5 per cent) men.
Muslim women have the highest rates of economic inactivity. In 2004 almost seven in ten (69 per cent) Muslim women of working age were economically inactive, a rate twice that of Hindu (31 per cent) and Sikh (36 per cent) women.[41]
35% of all Muslim children are growing up in a household where no adult is in employment, compared with 17.6% of all dependent children.[42]
September 2004
Unemployment rates 2003-2004 GB.gif
Unemployment rates: by religion and sex, 2003-2004, GB

Unemployment rates for Muslims are higher than those for people from any other religion, for both men and women.

In 2004, Muslims had the highest male unemployment rate in Great Britain, at 13 per cent. This was about three times the rate for Christian men (4 per cent). Unemployment rates for men in the other religious groups were between 3 and 8 per cent.

The unemployment rate for Muslim women at 18 per cent was about four times the rate for Christian and Jewish women (4 per cent in each case). Unemployment rates for women in the other religious groups were between 6 per cent and 9 per cent.

Unemployment rates were highest among those aged under 25 years for all religious groups. Muslims aged 16 to 24 years had the highest unemployment rates. They were over twice as likely as Christians of the same age to be unemployed – 28 per cent compared with 11 per cent.

Economic inactivity rates 2003-2004, GB.gif
Economic inactivity rates of working age people: by religion and sex, 2003-2004, GB

Men and women of working age from the Muslim faith are also more likely than other groups in Great Britain to be economically inactive, that is, not available for work and/or not actively seeking work.[43]
October 2004
28 percent of Muslims live in socially rented housing as opposed to 20 percent for the general population.
. . .

• The unemployment rate for Muslims is 15 percent which is approximately three times higher than Christians and Hindus.

• The unemployment rate for Muslims aged 16-24 is 17.5 percent as oppose to 7.9 percent for Christians and 7.4 percent for Hindus[44]
December 2005
2/10 Pakistani or Bangladeshi women are active in the job market, compared to 7/10 black Caribbean and white women

£150 a week is the average amount that Pakistani and Bangladeshi men earn less than white men
. . .

31 per cent of working age male Muslims were economically inactive, the highest level in the country, in 2004[22]
July 2006
Muslims are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than the national average (16.4 per cent, compared to 7.7 per cent)

Worryingly, unemployment is especially high among young Muslims under the age of 30 (23 per cent), which is again higher than the UK average for young people (17 per cent)

The jobless rate for the least educated young Muslims - those with no qualifications - is even higher, approaching 40 per cent.[45]
February 2010
Unemployment among ethnic minorities costs the economy almost £8.6 billion a year in benefits and lost revenue from taxes. Half of Muslim men and three quarters of Muslim women are unemployed.[46]
October 2010
While there is some variation in employment rates among different religious groups, the most significant gap is for Muslim people who have the lowest rates of employment in the UK
. . .

51% of second generation British Muslim women (those born in Britain)are inactive in the labour market, compared to only 17% of second generation Hindu women. Of second generation British Muslim women, 13% are unemployed, compared to 4% of second generation Hindu and Sikh women, and 3% of Christian women.
. . .
Muslims are also more likely to experience periods outside education, employment or training, than Christians or those of no religion. Young Muslims are more likely to be NEET by age 19-21 than Christian young people, or those of no religion (28% compared to an average of 23%). This worsens with age: by age 22-24 Muslims are among those most likely to be NEET (42%).
. . .

14% of Muslim women were employed full-time, 10% were employed part-time and 2% were self-employed. Moreover, 42% were categorised as ‘inactive, looking after the family, home’. This compares to 10% of Christian women and 16% of Hindu women.[47]
October 2010
Because such Islamic multiple-marriages are not recognised in Britain, the women are regarded by the welfare system as single mothers — and are therefore entitled to the full range of lone-parent payments.

As a result, several ‘families’, fathered by the same Pakistani man, can all claim benefits as they are provided for by the welfare state, which treats them as if they are not related.

Figures are hard to obtain, but it’s thought there may be around 1,000 polygamous families living in the UK, costing taxpayers millions of pounds every year.[48]
September 2011

United States

[According to a Gallup Institute study involving 300,000 people] American Muslims for the most part have lower incomes, less education and fewer jobs than the population as a whole.[24]
March 2009

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