Education GPS is the OECD source for internationally comparable data and analysis on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.


Gender differences in education ( indicatorsand education policies)

A selection of indicators from The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence, Education at a Glance 2015, PIAAC and TALIS.

Gender inequality in education and in the labour market is a reality and a challenge in various OECD countries. While girls perform better than boys in reading, they score lower in math, and lack self-confidence in scientific subjects. Such differences cannot be explained by differences in ability as girls in top-performing education systems score much higher in math than boys in most other OECD countries; the same is true for boys in reading. On the labour market, even though women outnumber men among university graduates, their employment rates and earnings lag behind those of men. Gender differences reported in student performance, graduation rates, employment rates, and earnings highlight the challenge faced by many governments to create more equal opportunities for boys and girls on many fronts. Policies that can help promote gender equality include: better teaching practices that encourage girls to be interested in science and maths and boys to read more; affordable childcare to allow more women to work full-time; and investment in education that translates into more equal employment conditions.

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Low-performing students

A selection of indicators from PISA 2012 results: Low-performing students: Why they fall behind and how to help them succeed

About 13 million 15-year-old students in the 64 countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) did not attain a baseline level of proficiency in at least one of three subjects: mathematics, reading and science. The share of low performers was 23% in mathematics and 18% in reading and science. Some 12% of students were low performers in all three subjects. Students who perform poorly at age 15 face a high risk of being trapped in a vicious cycle of poor performance and disengagement that may lead to school dropout with serious consequences for individuals and societies. The new PISA report describes how different risk factors, such as gender, having an immigrant background, a disadvantaged socio-economic profile, having repeated a grade, lacking pre-primary school or living in rural areas accumulate over the years to gather a perfect storm of low performance among young students. Lacking the knowledge and the skills to enter a labour market that values high-skilled workers, low-performing students are set on a road to compounded risk in adult life. The good news is that the path to low student achievement can be reversed. In fact, this is an effective way to improve an education system’s overall performance and equity .

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A selection of indicators from Education at a Glance 2015

How successful are the OECD nations at expanding education opportunities to their residents? How is investing in tertiary education beneficial for individuals and societies - financially, socially, and culturally - in spite of its higher costs? And how equitably are learning and job opportunities being distributed within countries? Among other findings, the 2015 edition of Education at a Glance reveals that in spite of the progress made by OECD countries and partner economies on expanding access to education, inequalities and other challenges persist with serious consequences for individuals and labour markets. For example:

  • While over 80% of tertiary-educated adults are employed, this figure is less than 60% among adults without upper secondary education;
  • Gender gaps, though narrower, are still a reality: young women are still under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and are less likely to be employed, especially if they do not have a tertiary degree;
  • Governments face the additional challenge of financing education and evaluating their system to reduce inefficiencies. While GDP began rising again in most countries, public spending on primary to tertiary educational institutions fell in more than one in three OECD countries and many governments have chosen to reduce teachers' salaries.

  • These are important calls for action if countries are to implement the United Nations Education 2030 global agenda on access, equity and quality of learning outcomes for all people of all ages. The message is clear: “The dream of ‘quality education for all’ is not yet a reality,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

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