OECD Education Report Highlights Increasing Tertiary Enrollment
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The OECD's 2017 report titled, ‘Education at a Glance,' provides information and trends on education, including access, participation and progression in education, schools’ learning environment and organization, and financial and human resources invested in education.

The report finds rapid expansion in tertiary enrollment but underscores that students do not select the fields with the highest rates of employment.

The report further highlights disparities across countries on SDG 4 progress.

October 2017: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released its annual report on the state of education globally, which finds increasing enrollment in tertiary education alongside a failure among individuals to enroll in the fields that offer the greatest employment opportunities. The report also features an assessment of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among OECD and partner countries, highlighting disparities across countries.

The 2017 report titled, ‘Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators,’ provides information and trends on education, including access, participation and progression in education, schools’ learning environment and organization, and financial and human resources invested in education. New features in the 2017 report include a focus on student mobility, labour market outcomes of education qualifications, and trends in upper secondary and tertiary level enrollment. For example, the report finds that fewer than five percent of students study information and communication technologies (ICTs), despite the high rate of employment among graduates in this field. The most popular careers in surveyed countries are business, administration and law, with approximately 25 percent of students choosing this field.

On SDG 4 (quality education), the report finds that OECD and partner countries have achieved gender parity in adult participation rates in formal and non-formal education and training, although the ratio of women to men participating in such programmes ranges from 0.7 to 1.4 across countries. The report also identifies inequalities in minimum proficiency in literacy and numeracy among women and men and gender disparities across disciplines.

Additional findings include rapid expansion in tertiary education, which the OECD argues results in substantial returns on investment. Adults with tertiary degrees are 10 percentage points more likely to be employed, earn 56 percent more on average than adults who only finished upper secondary education and are less likely to suffer from depression, according to OECD. Conversely, those individuals who do not finish higher levels of education “pay an increasing price”, with low wages and worsening employment.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stressed that education systems “need to do a better job of explaining to young people what studies offer the greatest opportunities for life.” He highlighted the linkages between equitable, high quality education and economic growth and personal fulfillment, calling on countries to increase their efforts to ensure that education meets children’s needs and informs their future aspirations.

The report covers all 35 OECD countries and as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Accompanying country notes provide insights on the performance, structure and finance of national education systems. [OECD Press Release] [Report Website]

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