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Korea
Overview of the education system (EAG 2021)
  • In Korea, men are more likely than women to pursue a vocational track. In 2019, 59% of upper secondary vocational graduates were men, compared to 55% on average across OECD countries.
  • In Korea, 76% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 64% of their male peers.
  • In 2018, Korea invested a total of USD 13 794 per student on primary to tertiary institutions compared to USD 10 454 on average across OECD countries. This represents 5.1% of GDP, compared to 4.9% on average across OECD countries.
  • In 2019, 93% of 3-5 year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education and care programmes and primary education in Korea, compared to 88% on average across OECD countries.
  • Statutory salaries of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of their salary scales are 181% to 193% higher than those of teachers with the minimum qualifications at the start of their career at pre-primary (ISCED 02), primary and general lower and upper secondary levels in Korea compared to 86% - 91% on average.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Attainment

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2 %, rank 44/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (50.7 %, rank 5/46 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (69.8 %, rank 1/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of 25-64 year-olds who attained a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (32.2 %, rank 1/46 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 55-64 year-olds who have attained a general degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (43.9 %, rank 3/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The level of short-cycle tertiary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (21.1 %, rank 3/35 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Attainment by gender

    The proportion of 25-34 year-old men who have attained tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (64 %, rank 1/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-34 year-old women who have attained tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (76.3 %, rank 1/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-34 year-old men who attained below upper secondary education in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.8 %, rank 44/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-34 year-old women who attained below upper secondary education in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.2 %, rank 44/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-34 year-old women who attained upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (21.5 %, rank 41/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The percentage of students in public tertiary educational institutions is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (19.6 %, rank 40/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students in independent private tertiary educational institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (80.4 %, rank 1/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 30-39 year-olds in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.6 %, rank 39/41 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the enrolment rate of children under 3 is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (65.2 %, rank 1/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of students enrolled in programmes providing full completion and access to tertiary education among all students enrolled in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 1/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation

    The percentage of first-time graduates in vocational programmes at upper secondary level is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (16.9 %, rank 32/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of bachelor's or equivalent graduates in public institutions is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (23 %, rank 31/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of doctorate graduates in public institutions is relatively low in Korea. (35.8 %, rank 34/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    The share of female graduates from upper secondary general programmes is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (47.6 %, rank 40/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is relatively low. (36.5 %, rank 41/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively low. (14 %, rank 42/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of female tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.5 %, rank 39/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of male tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14.9 %, rank 43/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by age

    The average age of upper secondary graduates from vocational programmes in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data (18.1 Years, rank 33/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of first-time doctorate graduates younger than 35 is relatively low. (40.9 %, rank 28/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The proportion of female tertiary graduates in social sciences, business and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (14.1 %, rank 43/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of arts and humanities is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.7 %, rank 4/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.5 %, rank 40/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14.5 %, rank 44/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (20.5 %, rank 4/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of sciences, journalism and information in Korea is relatively small. (5.1 %, rank 42/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics in Korea is relatively small. (12.6 %, rank 41/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in Korea is relatively large. (25.3 %, rank 4/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the proportion of upper secondary vocational graduates in the field of services is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.4 %, rank 31/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    In Korea, the percentage of new entrants to tertiary education in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is relatively low. (5.4 %, rank 35/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of new entrants to tertiary education in the field of business, administration and law is relatively low. (13.2 %, rank 37/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female who enter tertiary education in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (21 %, rank 33/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of social sciences, journalism and information among all national tertiary students in Korea is relatively low. (5.7 %, rank 31/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of business, administration and law among all national tertiary students in Korea is relatively low. (13.7 %, rank 31/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of female among new entrants in doctoral programmes enrolled in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in Korea is relatively small. (20.6 %, rank 33/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    The percentage of international students entering bachelor's programmes is relatively low. (2.2 %, rank 32/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility by field of education

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of arts and humanities among all international or foreign tertiary students in Korea is relatively high. (21.4 %, rank 4/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students enrolled in the field of health and welfare among all international or foreign tertiary students in Korea is relatively low. (3.8 %, rank 30/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of international and foreign students among all students in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with avaialble data. (1.7 %, rank 33/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of international and foreign students among all students in the field of information and communication technologies is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with avaialble data. (2 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of international and foreign students among all students in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with avaialble data. (1.6 %, rank 31/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of international and foreign students among all students in the field of health and welfare is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with avaialble data. (0.9 %, rank 31/35 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of international doctoral graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (5.3 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of international doctoral graduates in the field of Natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14.2 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Adult participation in non-formal education

    In Korea, the proportion of adults employed in enterprises of over 249 persons and participating in non-formal education and training is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (84.2 %, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the proportion of adults employed in the public sector and participating in non-formal education and training is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (84.3 %, rank 2/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the number of annual hours of participation of adults with upper secondary or post-secondary education in non-formal education and training is comparatively high (226 %, rank 2/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    Annual expenditure per secondary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14978 USD Equivalent, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the total expenditure per full-time equivalent student on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13295 USD Equivalent 2015, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    The average annual growth in the number of full-time equivalent student (2012 to 2018) at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level is comparatively small in Korea. (-3 %, rank 37/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    From 2012 to 2018, the average annual growth in the number of full-time equivalent student from primary to tertiary education is one of the smallest in Korea among OECD and partner countries with available data. (-2.5 %, rank 34/35 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The private expenditure as a percentage of GDP from initial source of funds on tertiary education is relatively high in Korea. (0.7 %, rank 4/26 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (60.3 %, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for tertiary education is comparatively small. (39.7 %, rank 33/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the relative share of public expenditure from initial source of funds on tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (55.5 %, rank 22/26 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the relative share of private expenditure from initial source of funds on tertiary education is comparatively large. (44.5 %, rank 4/26 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Nature of expenditure

    In Korea, the share of capital expenditure on primary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17.8 %, rank 1/33 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of current expenditure on primary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (82.2 %, rank 33/33 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of capital expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively in Korea. (15 %, rank 2/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of current expenditure on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (85 %, rank 33/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of capital expenditure for primary to tertiary education in Korea is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13.4 %, rank 3/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of current expenditure for primary to tertiary education in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (86.6 %, rank 29/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of capital expenditure on secondary education is relatively in Korea. (12.9 %, rank 3/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of current expenditure on secondary education is relatively in Korea. (87.1 %, rank 31/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of hours per year lower secondary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively low in Korea. (513 Hours, rank 29/32 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in pre-primary school is especially low. (180 Days, rank 22/26 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The number of hours per year pre-primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively low in Korea. (778 Hours, rank 21/25 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Who the teachers are

    The share of women among teaching staff in tertiary education (bachelor's, master's, doctorate or equivalent education) is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (33 %, rank 31/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of women among teaching staff in tertiary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (35.1 %, rank 37/39 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of women among teaching staff is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (62.5 %, rank 30/34 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary teachers older than 50 is especially low. (15.3 %, rank 38/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of women among teaching staff in vocational upper secondary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (47.5 %, rank 27/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of female teachers younger than 30 in primary education is especially low in Korea. (73.8 %, rank 34/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of female teachers younger than 30 in tertiary education is relatively large. (66.2 %, rank 1/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of female teachers aged 50 or more in upper secondary education is especially low in Korea. (34.1 %, rank 36/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of female teachers aged 50 or more in tertiary education is especially low in Korea. (23.9 %, rank 33/33 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries progression

    The salary progression from the start to the top of the salary scale for a lower secondary school teacher is among the most rewarding among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.81 Ratio, rank 1/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Salaries of primary school teachers with minimum training at the top of scale are especially high. (94108 USD Equivalent, rank 2/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    It takes lower secondary teachers longer to progress through the salary scale in Korea compared to other OECD and partner countries. (37 Years, rank 4/27 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In lower secondary education, the salary ratio of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of the salary scale to those with minimum training and starting salaries is comparatively high. (2.87 Ratio, rank 3/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Organisation of the education system

    The average hours per year dedicated to compulsory instruction time for primary students in Korea is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (655 Hours, rank 33/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the average intended instruction time, in hours per year, for primary students is one of the shortest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (655 Hours, rank 28/29 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In Korea, total intended instruction time for primary and lower secondary students is relatively short. (6453 Hours, rank 25/29 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In Korea, total intended instruction time for lower secondary students is relatively short. (2525 Hours, rank 26/29 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Class size

    Classes in lower secondary private institutions are comparatively large in Korea. (25 Students, rank 5/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In independent private institutions at primary education level, classes are one of the largest in Korea among OECD and partner countries with available data. (27 Students, rank 2/20 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In government-dependent private institutions at lower secondary level, classes are one of the largest in Korea among OECD and partner countries with available data. (25 Students, rank 5/20 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (77.1 %, rank 43/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 45-54 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (81.2 %, rank 40/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (74.2 %, rank 32/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Employment by gender and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old men with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is compartively low in Korea. (68.9 %, rank 40/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is comparatively low. (5.6 %, rank 39/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with tertiary education is high in Korea. (20.3 %, rank 4/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively high. (31.5 %, rank 3/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Earnings and educational attainment

    Compared with other OECD and partner countries, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with a short-cycle tertiary education degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is low. (108 Index, rank 25/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old men with a short-cycle tertiary education degree and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is low. (107 Index, rank 25/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Earnings, gender and educational attainment

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 35 to 44 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (64.1 %, rank 24/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (44.3 %, rank 24/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 35 to 44 with tertiary education is comparatively low. (44.4 %, rank 25/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively low. (51.2 %, rank 27/27 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female full-time earners among all earners aged 55 to 64 with tertiary education is comparatively low. (29.8 %, rank 27/28 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary education or post-secondary non-tertiary education and income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (70.4 %, rank 33/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (25-64 year-olds with income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (71.5 %, rank 37/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Participation in education by gender

    The share of female students entering bachelor's programmes in Korea is relatively small. (49.9 %, rank 41/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Entrance

    In Korea, the average age of new entrants in short-cycle programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (20.6 Years, rank 29/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the average age of new entrants in bachelor's programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (19 Years, rank 36/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the percentage of new entrants in short-cycle tertiary programmes younger than 25 is relatively high. (91.4 %, rank 4/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the share of first-time entrants into bachelor's or equivalent programmes before the age of 25 is relatively high. (97.6 %, rank 2/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the proportion of first-time entrants into doctorate's or equivalent programmes before the age of 30 is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (40.6 %, rank 31/35 , 2019) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    
                            
    • One in five adults across the OECD has not attained upper secondary education.
    • In 2020, the unemployment rate of adults that had not completed upper secondary education was almost twice as high as those with higher qualifications, and 27% of these adults earn only at or below half the median on average across OECD countries.
    • In 2019, at least 10% of school-aged youth were not in school in about a quarter of OECD countries.
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    • In 2019, women made up 55% of new entrants to tertiary education on average. If current patterns continue, it is expected that 46% of young women will graduate with a tertiary degree for the first time before they turn 30, 15 percentage points more than men.
    • Women also earn on average about 76-78% of men’s salaries regardless of educational attainment, although the gender gap narrowed by 2 percentage points between 2013 and 2019.
    • Women are less likely than men to enter a STEM field of study, and the average share remained generally stable between 2013 and 2019.
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    • On average across countries, expenditure on educational institutions amounted to approximately USD 9 300 per student at pre-primary level; USD 10 500 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non tertiary level; and USD 17 100 at tertiary level.
    • The public sector funds 90% of total expenditure on primary and secondary institutions on average, often compulsory in most OECD countries, compared to 83% at pre-primary level and 66% at tertiary level.
    • In 2018, the OECD countries spent on average 4.9% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.
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    • In 2019, less than 5% of pre-primary teachers were men, compared to 18% at primary level, 40% at upper secondary level and more than 50% at tertiary level on average.
    • Between 2005 and 2020, on average across OECD countries and economies with available data for all reference years, the statutory salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications increased by 3% at primary level, 4% at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 2% at upper secondary level (general programmes).
    • In most countries, teachers above 50 years of age make up more than a third of the teaching force.
    • Attracting male teachers to the profession can be difficult: While the average actual salary of female teachers is equal to or higher than the average salary of other full-time, tertiary-educated women, primary and secondary male teachers earn between 76% and 85% of the average earnings of other full-time, tertiary-educated men.
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    • On average across OECD countries, 87% of children aged 3-5 are enrolled in education on average across OECD countries compared to 25% for children below the age of 3.
    • There are 15 children for every teacher at pre-primary level on average across OECD countries.
    • Half of children enrolled in early childhood development services and a two-thirds of pre-primary children attend public institutions on average across OECD countries
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    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - Korea

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    Key
    Country Reviews for Korea

    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS averages. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG 2021 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.