Learning about learning

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2002
In the world of education, students and teachers are on the move. More students attend universities and schools abroad, while teachers too have become more internationally mobile. In some ways, education has many of the characteristics of a large global business. This year’s Education at a Glance, published in October, shows that within the OECD area, Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the US attract seven out of ten foreign students studying abroad.
Greek, Japanese and Korean students are the largest sources of foreign students from OECD countries, while students from China and Southeast Asia make up the largest numbers of foreign students from non-OECD countries.As the demand for learning grows in OECD countries, governments are having to establish policies and find resources for providing efficient, equitable and lifelong education. While virtually all young people in OECD countries can expect to go to school for 11 years, four out of ten go on to tertiary programmes leading to the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher. Furthermore, although one-third of OECD students drop out before they complete their first tertiary-level degree, for half of the OECD countries studied, more than 40% of the adult population enrolled in some form of continuing education and training within a 12-month period. With the exception of France, Germany and Turkey, participation in university-level education grew in OECD countries between 1995 and 2000, and in the majority of countries by more than 15%.Education at a Glance shows that there are still gender differences in education. For the most part, women can expect to go to school half a year longer than men. Among older age groups, men have attained higher levels of schooling, but for younger people, this pattern is now being reversed in most countries as more women than men are completing their education. A new component of Education at a Glance compares student performance across countries, shifting the focus from education inputs to outcomes. Drawing on the results of the OECD-PISA study, these comparisons show a wide disparity across the many countries surveyed in performances of 15-year-old school pupils in reading and scientific and mathematical literacy. Many of the results will serve as an eye-opener for educators. Education at a Glance will make it easier to shape educational methods to student needs and provides an opportunity for cross-border comparison of teaching and educational systems. It is now more than ever a valuable reference for all stakeholders in education, wherever in the world they might be.© OECD Observer No. 234, October 2002


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