Education International
Education International

Major OECD report fails to call for greater public investment in education

published 12 September 2006 updated 12 September 2006

Education International is concerned that the OECD’s influential annual report, released today in all 30 OECD countries, stops short of urging member governments to significantly increase their investment in public education.

Education at a Glance 2006 is the latest of the organization’s annual analyses of a broad range of internationally-comparable indicators in education. The indicators consistently show that individuals and countries that invest in education and skills development benefit both economically and socially. This year’s report is no exception.

However, even as the OECD reports additional evidence of the importance of accessible quality education in promoting social cohesion and economic prosperity, the obvious main message to governments is missing.

As teachers we are eager to hear the OECD say loud and clear that increased public investment in public education is essential in the knowledge society of the future,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

We see a fundamental contradiction between the OECD’s avowed commitment to social equity through strong public education systems, and its encouragement of private investment, both by individual students and parents, and by corporate interests and other private actors.

The study reports that in many countries the share of public funding for all levels of education actually decreased between 1995 and 2003. Meanwhile, the results of PISA 2003 suggest that socio-economic status plays a major role in determining students’ performance, and that schools in many OECD countries reinforce existing socio-economic inequities.

By contrast, the example of Finland shows that with sufficient public investment and universal access to quality education, goverments can overcome the dramatic social inequities that plague some countries.

In this context, it is crucial that education be maintained as a public good accessible to all,” van Leeuwen said. “ That means significantly increasing funding to public education, giving teachers competitive salaries and improving their working conditions and professional development. This can be achieved only by governments taking more responsibility, not less,” he said.

For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, EI communications coordinator, at: + 32 2 224 0681.