Education International
Education International

OECD calls for more support for disadvantaged students and schools

published 20 February 2012 updated 9 March 2012

In a recently published report, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called on governments to do more to help students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to succeed in school.

One in five drop out

Across OECD countries, the report found, almost one in every five students does not reach a basic minimum level of skills. In addition, students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds are twice as likely to be low performers. Lack of fairness and inclusion can lead to school failure. This means that one in every five young adults on average drops out before completing upper secondary education.

Reducing school failure, the authors say, pays off for both society and individuals, contributing to economic growth and social development. The highest performing education systems across OECD countries combine quality with equity, the report shows.


The document, which includes significant input from Education International (EI) experts, also presents policy recommendations for governments to help all children succeed in their schooling.

These recommendations focus on:

  • Equity in education: Personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background, should not become obstacles to achieving educational potential (fairness)
  • Inclusion: All individuals should reach at least a basic minimum level of skills. If this is ensured, most students will have the opportunity to attain high level skills, regardless of their own personal and socio-economic circumstances

Quality education opens doors

"This report highlights that more needs to be done to offer inclusive quality public education to all students, and give them the opportunity to attain a high level of skills - regardless of their own personal and socio-economic circumstances,” said Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary.

“EI has always stressed that quality education opens doors and enables individuals to make choices throughout their lives. Sustainable funding for education is thus essential, all the more so in this time of crisis."