Global population trends are changing the nature of what might be termed the “demographic challenge” to primary educational systems. The traditional demographic challenge, still ongoing in some countries, is one of population expansion. A regime of ever-increasing child cohorts places intense pressures on governments to expand school access even to maintain the status quo in enrollment rates. In contrast, an emerging regime of sparse and declining child cohorts—demographic scarcity associated with some combination of age structure effects, fertility decline, or urbanization and hollowing out of rural communities—poses the challenge of how to maintain a system that reaches dispersed, scarce school age populations. In this project, we consider the challenges posed by demographic change to systems of primary education and the educational policy responses across different countries.