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:
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.
Starting Strong IV: Monitoring quality in early childhood education and care
Having made strides in expanding access to early childhood education and care (ECEC), many policy makers turn their attention to monitoring the quality of services provided. The challenges involved are not to be underestimated given the diversity of settings (from kindergarten to family day care), the different age range of children served, and the heterogeneity of the qualifications among ECEC staff. But countries are learning their lessons. Monitoring is increasingly practiced across OECD member countries, largely in the context of accountability for public investments and to help parents make informed decisions about their children's early education. Robust monitoring systems strive to integrate different monitoring areas to verify that quality standards are met on many fronts, not only with respect to providers' compliance with regulations, but also at the "process" level (quality of the curriculum, learning materials, and staff performance). Monitoring children's learning outcomes is also a priority for countries that need to know how children are developing and where additional support or training of ECEC staff may be needed. Furthermore, monitoring systems of early childhood are increasingly aligned with those of the primary school for a more continuous early childhood development experience. In short, expanded and enhanced monitoring is at the service of better learning for young children.
A selection of indicators from PISA 2012 results: Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection
Having access to computers at school is better than not having it, but it is not enough to ensure that students are digitally proficient and able to benefit from wide-spread availability of technology in school and in daily life. Recent analyses of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tell us that some of the top-performing countries in the 2012 digital reading and computer-based mathematics tests, namely Korea and Shanghai-China, are not the ones where students use the Internet at school for schoolwork most frequently. While 72% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported using a computer at school, only 42% of students in Korea and 38% in Shanghai-China reported doing so. Proficiency in digital reading in many countries mirrors their students’ performance in print reading, confirming that it is not possible for students to excel in online reading without being able to understand and draw inferences from print texts too. But there are important differences between reading on line and on paper, which are mainly related to a unique digital skill: the ability to navigate the online environment. Students in Korea and Singapore, for instance, perform significantly better in the digital medium than students in other countries with similar performance in print reading. Effective digital readers are more selective when navigating on line, carefully assess which links to follow before clicking on them, and follow relevant links for as long as is needed to solve the task. Such task-oriented navigation behaviours can be taught and students can benefit from explicit guidance from teachers who may also need training in helping students transfer their print-reading skills to an online environment. How can countries respond to this important trend shaping education? Improving equity is a first step as students’ ability to use computers for learning is largely linked to differences in basic academic skills. Explicitly teaching digital skills is another step, which requires helping teachers and schools to incorporate technology in learning through clear goals and innovative practices. Finally, learning from past experiences should help with decisions on future investments in technology.
The quality of teachers, trainers and instructors is key for effective learning, be it in early childhood education and care, schools, vocational education and training, or adult education. As research for schooling showed, while learning is influenced by many factors, such as a student's family background and skills and motivation, the single most important factor within schools that impacts student learning is teaching. Considering teachers' role for learning, ensuring a high quality workforce is high on policy agendas in many countries. Teachers who are more satisfied with their jobs, considering their role is valued by society and feeling confident with their own ability to teach are more likely to be engaged into innovative ways of teaching and helping more diverse student populations with the skills needed for their future. Who are the teachers? How often are they provided with feedback professional development opportunities? What are their working conditions? Is teaching an attractive occupation for those with high qualifications? The results from Education at a Glance 2014 and the TALIS survey show a wealth of indicators to compare different countries More data More on policies
A selection of indicators from The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence, Education at a Glance 2014, 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.