Education International
Education International

OECD’s Education at a Glance 2016 reveals public benefits of education and need for increased spending

published 15 September 2016 updated 19 September 2016

Education International has reacted to the latest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education at a Glance (EaG) 2016, stressing the positive impact of quality education, and demanding an increased investment in education.

“This year's ‘Education at Glance' provides some highly disturbing statistics, stresses Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, noting that since last year's report the average percentage of the GDP spent on education has slipped slightly rather than increased.

While the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that teachers' salaries are now starting to recover since the 2008 financial crisis, he goes on to say, there are still countries such as England and Wales, France, Denmark and countries such as Greece where teachers' salaries “remain in the deep freeze”.

This is exacerbated by evidence that discrimination against women in salaries is stark, van Leeuwen also underlines, saying that the OECD's finding that tertiary educated women earn on average a shocking 27 percent less than men is replicated in the education sector. Despite the fact that there are more women than men in education, they still hit the glass ceiling when it comes to leadership career opportunities, he says.

Attracting and retaining teachers is still a matter of crisis in many OECD countries, he adds. The OECD's finding that teaching is an aging profession should be “a wakeup call for countries to create policies which enhance teachers' enthusiasm for their profession rather than undermine it”. Teachers are at their most effective when they are empowered rather than undervalued in their professionalism and pay, van Leeuwen insists.

He adds that, the power of education nevertheless comes over clearly from the report, and “education is worth it”. As the OECD says, the public benefits of education outweigh its costs, he reminds. For example, the achievement of children of immigrants who receive pre-primary education is far better than those who don't; and quality vocational education leads to lower unemployment.

Yet the undoubted benefits of higher education for young people's future standard of living would be even greater if it wasn't for the disturbing evidence that most countries are switching higher education cost to individual households, the EI General Secretary acknowledges, regretting that it would seem that the financial barriers of higher education for young people from deprived households are becoming even greater.

“I urge countries to start both increasing overall spending on education and addressing the serious structural inequities in its provision,” van Leeuwen says.

To read the EI summary of the EaG findings, please click here.