Posts

How can countries close the equity gap in education?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division,  Directorate for Education and Skills


Education plays a dual role when it comes to social inequality and social mobility. On the one hand, it is the main way for societies to foster equality of opportunity and support upward social mobility for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. On the other hand, the evidence is overwhelming that education often reproduces social divides in societies, through the impact that parents’ economic, social and cultural status has on children’s learning outcomes.

The social divide is already apparent very early in the life of a child, in the time their parents spend on parenting or in the number of words a toddler learns. It progresses through early childhood education and becomes most obvious in the variation in learning outcomes, based on social background, among 15-year-old students who participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). And when literacy and numeracy…

Who really bears the cost of education?

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by Marie-Hélène Doumet
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills


It can be difficult to get your head around education finance. Who actually pays for it, where does the money come from, and how is it spent are all crucial questions to ask if you want to understand how the money flows in education. In many countries, basic education is considered a right, and governments are expected to ensure universal access to it. However, educational attainment has reached unprecedented levels, and more people are participating in education than ever before, leaving governments struggling to meet the demand through public funds alone. The role of private funding has become more significant in the past decade, particularly at the pre-primary and tertiary levels of education. 
But the reality is more complex than a binary public-private model would suggest. Other financing mechanisms, involving the transfer of funds between governments, households and other private entities, are blurring th…

Are school systems ready to develop students’ social skills?

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills


Successes and failures in the classroom will increasingly shape the fortunes of countries.  And yet, more of the same education will only produce more of the same strengths and weaknesses. Today’s students are growing up into a world hyperconnected by digitalisation; tomorrow, they’ll be working in a labour market that is already being hollowed-out by automation. For those with the right knowledge and skills, these changes are liberating and exciting. But for those who are insufficiently prepared, they can mean a future of vulnerable and insecure work, and a life lived on the margins.

In today’s schools, students typically learn individually, and at the end of the school year, we certify their individual achievements. But the more interdependent the world becomes, the more it needs great collaborators and orchestrators. Innovation is now rarely the product of individuals working in isolation; instead, it is an outcome…

How much will the literacy level of working-age people change from now to 2022?

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by François Keslair
Statistician, Directorate for Education and Skills 



Taken as a whole, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) present a mixed picture for Korea and Singapore. As their economies have grown, these two countries’ education systems have seen fast and impressive improvements; both now rank among PISA’s top performers. However, neither Korea nor Singapore do so well in PIAAC. PIAAC measures the skills of adults aged between 16 and 65, i.e. a large majority of the population, not just the 15-year-olds pupils measured by PISA. And while the skills of younger Koreans and Singaporeans are just as impressive in PIAAC as in PISA, the same cannot be said of their elders, who did not enjoy the advantages of their current successful education systems. The skills of the older population covered by PIAAC simply cannot keep pace with such change.

But why exactly can we draw this conclusion? In other words, why do the driver…

Is the growth of international student mobility coming to a halt?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division,  Directorate for Education and Skills


Higher education is one of the most globally integrated systems of the modern world. There still are important barriers to the international recognition of degrees or the transfer of credits, but some of the basic features of higher education enjoy global convergence and collaboration. This is most visible in the research area, where advanced research is now carried out in international networks. But also in the field of teaching and learning, the international dimension has become very important. The so-called European Higher Education Area stands out as an area where degree structures, credit transfer arrangements and quality assurance frameworks have been aligned in order to adjust qualifications with the needs of an integrated labour market.

Yet, higher education is also one of the most unequal and hierarchical systems of the modern world; globalisation has not yet made the world of h…

Is free higher education fair?

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by Andreas Schleicher 
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills 

Skills have become the currency of 21st century economies and, despite the significant increase the UK has seen in university graduation over the last decade, the earnings of workers with a Master’s degree remain over 80% higher than those of workers with just five good GCSEs or an equivalent vocational qualification. Sure, not every university graduate will end up with a great salary, but the claim that for many studying does not pay is a myth: just one in 10 university graduates earn less than half the median salary, a figure which is double for adults with only five good GCSEs, and another 22% of graduates earn between half the median and the median salary. Conversely, 21% earn more than twice the median, three times more than those with five good GCESs. Beyond the monetary benefits, higher education brings important social benefits for individuals and nations, ranging from better health through to greater social…

What matters for managing classrooms?

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by Francesca Gottschalk
Consultant, Directorate for Education and Skills 


Teaching is a demanding profession. Teachers are responsible for developing the skills and knowledge of their students, helping them overcome social and emotional hurdles and maintaining equitable, cohesive and productive classroom environments. On top of their teaching responsibilities, they are also expected to engage in continued professional development activities throughout their careers. The demands of the job are many and varied, and teachers tend to report some of the highest levels of workplace stress of any profession. This contributes to the loss of many talented and motivated individuals from the teaching workforce.

Teachers, especially the least experienced, tend to report that student disengagement and misbehaviour is one of the biggest stressors. In fact, terms like “reality shock” or “shattered dreams” are sometimes used to describe what happens when teachers are first put in front of a classroom.