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Showing posts from January, 2015

Who enjoys the opportunity to be better educated than their parents?

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by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills



Over the past decades, education systems have expanded enormously. They provide opportunities for many more students than before to access and succeed in secondary and tertiary education. The rapidly increasing supply of skilled labour in the economy over the past five decades was a crucial ingredient for growth and prosperity, for the modernisation of societies, and for the success of democracy. As more young people became more highly educated than their parents, upward mobility in education became the standard of families’ aspirations and individual ambitions. Families invested a lot of resources and energy into the educational careers of their children in order to unlock a brighter future to which education seemed to be the key.

The most recent Education Indicators in Focuspresents some interesting evidence on inter-generational educational mobility, based on data from the

A shared aspiration

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By Alfonso Echazarra
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills 

If there’s one word that encapsulates the desires and aspirations of education stakeholders around the world, it is improvement. When the first PISA results revealed the disappointing performance of German students, the country became determined to improve, and shake up, its education system. More recently, after declining results in reading, mathematics and science, Wales introduced large-scale school reform measures with the aim of becoming one of the top 20 performers in PISA reading performance by 2015. While there is no one sure path to improvement in education, this month’s PISA in Focusrelays a positive message: any country can improve its performance and equity in education – and relatively quickly.

This means that improvements in PISA performance are not bound by geography, national wealth, cultural heritage or where the country started off on its way towards excellence in PISA. For example, Singapore, a small,…

How many young people leave school without any qualification?

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by Dirk Van Damme Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, Directorate for Education and Skills

More education yields better job prospects and higher average levels of income, and is also associated with better (self-reported) health, social capital and political engagement. Year after year Education at a Glance provides the evidence that links educational attainment to these various economic and social outcomes. The economic crisis has underlined the relevance of such findings. The social cost of the crisis, in terms of unemployment and poverty, has been particularly high for those who lacked the risk insurance that education seems to guarantee for the highly educated.

The latest unemployment data from the OECD (November 2014) show that unemployment rates remain virtually unchanged at very high levels and that there is little prospect for real improvement. The recently published Education at a Glance Interim Report , which includes 2013 data, shows that the relative ris…

Shared challenges in reforming education systems: are we getting it right?

by Beatriz Pont,
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Let’s be honest, implementing ambitious reforms in education is not simple. Change takes time, often longer than a politician’s 4 year term, and they may face conflicting priorities or even lack evidence on what would work best. More than 12% of government expenditure is invested in education to improve results and enable citizens to benefit from good education systems. Still, 21.5% of 15 year olds don’t reach the minimum level of skills required to function in today’s societies.  The new OECD book Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen looks into more than 450 education reforms adopted across OECD countries during the past 7 years.

Written to help policy makers with policy options and country examples, it shows trends and lessons that can contribute to make a difference in their reform efforts. Countries share common challenges and are defining policies accordingly: targeting inequality and ensuring c…

Improving school climate and opportunities to learn

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by Gabriela Miranda Moriconi
Researcher, Department for Educational Research at Fundação Carlos Chagas, Brazil

January marks the preparation for the academic year in the Southern Hemisphere, where the school year spans from February/March to November/December. More than simply allocating time for classes and other extra-curricular activities, it is an opportunity to reflect on  how to make the best use of classroom time, in order to maximise  learning opportunities for all students. The new Teaching in Focus brief “Improving school climate and opportunities to learn” provides some useful insights into how school climate issues affect actual learning time and discusses some initiatives that could be promoted to make the most of the time that students spend in the classroom.

Teachers can certainly face challenges in the classroom. In TALIS participating countries and economies, almost one in three teachers report having more than 10% of students with behavioural problems in their classes…

Education and the modern family

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by Tracey Burns and Roxanne Kovacs
Directorate for Education and Skills. Sciences Po, Paris

In an article published in 1993, David Popenoe argued that the middle of the 20th century was the heyday of the traditional nuclear family. This family consisted of “a heterosexual, monogamous, life-long marriage in which there is a sharp division of labour, with the female as full-time housewife and the male as primary provider and ultimate authority”. Popenoe argued that the decline of the traditional family was detrimental not just for families, but for society as a whole.

He was correct on at least one level: families have changed. The majority of families of the 21st century are much more diverse: Marriage rates have been declining while divorce rates are rising. Couples are choosing to have their children later in life, and more people are having children without getting married at all. In fact, the average age of first marriage (30 years) has now risen above the average age of first child…

The sustainability of the UK’s higher education system

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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 university degree remain over 80% higher than those of workers with just five good GCSE’s or an equivalent vocational qualification. Sure, not every university graduate will end up with a great salary, but on average they take an additional
£160 000 home over their working life, and that's even after discounting tuition, forgone earnings, and the higher tax bill that comes with a better salary. Some say these trends are all futures of the past, and that the job prospects of future graduates may look much worse, particularly if bringing in more and more people eventually means including less qualified applicants. But people have been saying these things ever since I began tracking those numbers over a decade ago and the bottom l…