Ask the economists

Education Directorate
Learn more, earn more? Some of the issues raised in Education at a Glance 2007 formed a recent online public discussion in our Ask the Economists series. Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD’s Education Indicators and Analysis division and a lead author of Education at a Glance, fielded questions from readers in Chile, China, Germany, Spain and the UK on Wednesday 3 October. Below is a sample.
Q. You mention the German system of dividing children at age 10 between academic and vocational tracks as an example of an unequal system. As that generation grows up, should we expect to see greater social inequality as a result? Belinda Holz, GermanyA. The institutional structure of the German system has remained unchanged, and as far as this structure relates to the impact which social background has on student performance, its impact on student access to higher education will remain unchanged. There are two ways to address this: one is to postpone selection, as has been done in most other countries; the other is to open access to higher education to students from vocational oriented school tracks, which some states in Germany have begun to do.Q. What would you say to those governments that think that the more money they spend in education, the best educational system they get? Ana Yerro, Institución FuturoA. Education at a Glance 2007 suggests that the relationship between spending per student up to the age of 15 years and learning outcomes in education systems at 15 years, as measured by PISA, is at best weak (money invested explains only 15% of the performance variation among countries). So while money is necessary, it is by no means sufficient.The complete Q&A is available at©OECD Observer No. 263, October 2007

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