Educational attainment for women of reproductive age is linked to reduced child and maternal mortality, lower fertility and improved reproductive health. Comparable analyses of attainment exist only at the national level, potentially obscuring patterns in subnational inequality. Evidence suggests that wide disparities between urban and rural populations exist, raising questions about where the majority of progress towards the education targets of the Sustainable Development Goals is occurring in African countries. Here we explore within-country inequalities by predicting years of schooling across five by five kilometre grids, generating estimates of average educational attainment by age and sex at subnational levels. Despite marked progress in attainment from 2000 to 2015 across Africa, substantial differences persist between locations and sexes. These differences have widened in many countries, particularly across the Sahel. These high-resolution, comparable estimates improve the ability of decision-makers to plan the precisely targeted interventions that will be necessary to deliver progress during the era of the Sustainable Development Goals.