education and knowledge

Education and reduction of inequalities: key challenges

Reducing inequalities and financing education remain overarching issues that governments must urgently address. According to its latest report, the OECD recommends that governments focus on correcting inefficiencies in their education systems to ensure that every child, regardless of background, can reach his or her full potential and benefit from a quality education.
Ahis report Education at a Glance 2015 which has just been released on 24 November 2015, is a reference publication on the state of education in the world. It provides data on the performance of educational institutions, the impact of learning in different countries, the financial and human resources invested in education, access, participation and progression within education systems, and the learning environment and school organization.
It highlights the rapid progress made in educational development over the past 25 years, with 41 %s of 25-34 year olds now graduating from higher education. However, inequalities in education persist and have serious consequences for labour markets and economies. In 2014, fewer than 60 %s of adults with less than upper secondary education were employed, compared to more than 80 %s of tertiary education graduates. 
This 2015 edition presents more detailed analyses on participation in early childhood and tertiary education, as well as on the educational and social mobility of first-generation tertiary educated adults, labour market opportunities for new graduates, and participation in formal and/or non-formal employer-supported training activities. In addition, this new edition examines the willingness to use information and communication technologies for problem-solving in teaching and learning, and proposes a set of indicators on the impact of skills on employment and pay, gender differences in education and employment, and evaluation systems for teachers and school leaders.    
"The dream of 'quality education for all' is not yet a reality". 
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said this at the launch of the report in Paris. He went on to say: "the absence of quality education is the hardest form of social exclusion, keeping people away from economic growth and social progress".. Read the speech (in English).
Inequalities in initial training continue to be felt throughout life, particularly in terms of individuals' access to lifelong learning: around 60 % of the most highly qualified workers benefit from training sponsored by their employer, compared with only 26 % of unskilled workers and employees.  
Inequalities in the education system also have an impact on earnings since adults with tertiary education are more likely to be among the 25 highest paid adult %s than those with upper secondary education.
Ineffective budget cuts
This new edition of Education at a Glance also sheds light on the difficulties governments face in financing education. GDP rose again between 2010 and 2012 in most countries, yet public spending on educational institutions, from primary to tertiary level, fell in more than one in three OECD countries, including Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the United States. 
Among the budget cuts in primary and secondary education, most countries have chosen to reduce teachers' salaries rather than increase class sizes. However, evidence from the OECD's PISA survey shows that top-performing countries, such as Finland, Japan and Korea, put pedagogy and teachers ahead of infrastructure and class sizes.   
The number of OECD countries that have favoured real wage growth is declining to about one in two between 2008 and 2013. On average in the OECD, pre-primary and primary teachers receive 78 % of the salary of a full-time worker with a comparable level of education; lower secondary teachers are paid 80 % of this reference salary, and 82 % for their upper secondary counterparts.
With such uncompetitive salaries, it is more difficult to attract the most gifted candidates to the teaching profession, especially as the profession is ageing, since 35 % of secondary school teachers were at least 50 years old in 2013. This percentage increased by three points between 2005 and 2013. The increase was at least 10 points in Greece, Korea, Portugal and Slovenia, and 19 points in Austria.  
The report provides comparable national statistics that measure the state of education worldwide. The report analyses the education systems of 34 OECD member countries and the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Investing in education is worthwhile, both in the labour market and in life...
Key results
Level of training :
- Some 85 % of today's young people are expected to graduate from upper secondary education during their lifetime. In all countries, young women are now more likely than young men to do so. The largest gender gap is in Slovenia, where 95 % of young women are expected to graduate from upper secondary education compared to only 76 % of young men (indicator A2).
- About 41 % of 25-34 year olds in OECD countries now have a university level education. This is 16 percentage points higher than that of 55-64 year olds with comparable education. The gap exceeds 20 % in many countries (indicator A1). 
- The number of students enrolled outside their country of origin has increased considerably, from 1.7 million worldwide in 1995 to more than 4.5 million (indicator C4). Some 27 % of students from OECD countries graduating for the first time from a doctoral programme in 2013 were international students, compared with only 7 % of students graduating from undergraduate programmes (indicator A3).
- On average, 83 % of tertiary education graduates are employed, compared to 74 % of secondary school or non-university post-secondary education graduates and 56 % of those with less than upper secondary education (indicator A5).
Expenditure on education :
- OECD countries spend, on average, USD 10,220 per student per year from primary to tertiary education: USD 8,247 per primary student, USD 9,518 per secondary student and USD 15,028 per tertiary student (indicator B1).
- The share of the private sector in the financing of higher education has increased over the last decade. About two-thirds of private funding in higher education comes from tuition fees paid by households. Household tuition fees are above US$2,000 in more than half of the countries for which data are available and exceed US$4,000 in Australia, Canada, Korea and New Zealand, US$5,000 in Japan and US$8,000 in the United Kingdom and the United States (Indicator B5).
- On average, OECD countries spent 5.3 % of their GDP on education in 2012, from primary to tertiary (including unallocated programmes by level of education). The public sector finances 83.5 % of all expenditure allocated to institutions from primary to tertiary level. Public financing of education decreased in more than one in three OECD countries between 2010 and 2012, including Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the United States (indicators B2 and B3).
Early Childhood Education :
- In most OECD countries, education now begins well before the age of 5 for most children. Some 74 % of 3-year-olds are enrolled in school in the OECD, compared with 80 % in OECD countries that are members of the European Union (indicator C2).
- Enrolment rates in pre-primary education for 3-year-olds increased from 52 % in 2005 to 72 % in 2013, and from 69 % to 85 % for 4-year-olds for the same period. Enrolment rates for 4-year-olds increased by at least 20 % in Australia, Chile, Mexico, Korea, Poland, the Russian Federation and Turkey between 2005 and 2013 (indicator C2).
- More than half of the children enrolled in early childhood development programs attend private institutions. The financial burden on parents can be heavy, even in the case of public subsidies (indicator C2). 
In the classroom:
- Pupils receive an average of 7,570 hours of compulsory education from primary to the end of lower secondary school. Danish pupils receive the most, with more than 10 000 hours, and Hungarian pupils receive the least, with less than 6 000 hours (indicator D1).
- The average class size in primary education in OECD countries is 21 students, and 24 students in lower secondary education. The larger the class size, the less time teachers spend teaching and the more time they spend maintaining discipline: it is estimated that each additional pupil over an average class size results in a 0.5 percentage point decrease in time spent teaching and learning (indicator D2).
- Statutory remuneration for teachers with 15 years' service averages USD 41,245 in primary, USD 42,825 in lower secondary and USD 44,600 in upper secondary education (indicator D3).  
(Source: OECD (2015), Education at a Glance 2015 : OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing).

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