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Education at a Glance 2019 shows governments must accelerate progress towards SDG 4 and quality education for all

Reacting to the newly published Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Education at a Glance report, Education International welcomes progress made in a number of countries in several aspects of educational provision, but insists that other major areas of education remain a cause of great concern for educators.

This year, in the Education at a Glance (EAG) report, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) mainly focuses on tertiary education, and includes a dedicated chapter on progress by countries towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We welcome OECD's commitment to SDG 4 and to evaluating its progress,” stresses EI General Secretary David Edwards, adding that while Education at a Glance contains some good news about improving provision in OECD countries there remain deep problems that need to be solved.

Edwards in particular underlines that “the onward improvement in early years provision for three year olds in a number of OECD countries is welcome although there is much more to be done. Similarly, a number of countries are trying successfully to reduce the number of 15 year olds out of school. However, the percentage of students not in education, employment and training remains shockingly high.”

Noting that the private sector has an unacceptably large stake in tertiary education, the EI leader also goes on deploring that the spread of tuition fees undermines access to publicly provided higher education.

Teacher shortages

Edwards emphasised that EI also deeply regrets that there is a growing threat of teacher shortages in schools. Despite EAG reporting that additional funding in the majority of countries is being spent on lower class sizes and higher teachers’ salaries, average primary school class sizes have not gone down and primary teachers still receive comparatively lower pay. Furthermore, the differential between classroom teachers’ pay and that of similar professionals in other sectors and the disparity between school principals’ and teachers’ pay are factors placing pressures on retaining teachers. According to EI, these factors must be addressed if teacher shortages are to be reversed.

Gender issues

The EAG still shows that, unfortunately, there are still far fewer women than men taking part in training and vocational education. Despite improvements in graduate numbers, women are still a comparative rarity in skills areas such as engineering, manufacturing, construction and ICT. EI believes that the fact that there are fewer women than men in vocational training in most countries deserves more investigation.

EAG 2019

Among key findings from Education at a Glance 2019:  

  • Against SDG 4.1.5 on out of school youth, the SDG Chapter finds that more than 10% of the upper secondary age population is still out of school in OECD countries. Mexico, the Russian Federation, New Zealand and Portugal are reported to have made the greatest progress in reducing the Upper Secondary out of school rate.
  • Spending on tertiary institutions has increased by 28% between 2005 and 2016 although, since 2010 spending and student enrolments have slowed down. Private sources financed more than 30% of this spending and tuition fees have increased by more than 20% between 2007 and 2017.
  • According to the OECD, between 2007 and 2016 public expenditure on schools and post-secondary non-tertiary institutions increased to 3.5% of GDP across OECD countries. In the majority of countries OECD reports that this was spent on smaller classes and higher teachers’ salaries.
  • In most OECD countries, there are concerns about teacher shortages. On average, only 10% of primary and secondary teachers are under 30. While teachers earnings earn, on average, between 78% and 98% of the pay of other tertiary educated adults, school principals earn 25% more.
  • On average across OECD countries, 14% of 18-24 year olds are neither employed nor in education or training with this percentage rising to 25% in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, South Africa and Turkey.
  • In 2017, more than one in three children under the age of three were enrolled in early childhood education-an increase of 7% since 2010.

You will find the OECD's Education at a Glance 2019 here.

The EI's comments are available here.