Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen
19 Jan 2015 :: 315 pages
ISBN: 9789264225442 (PDF) ; 9789264228535 (EPUB) ; 9789264220942 (print)
DOI : 10.1787/9789264225442-en
[Excerpt from press release]
Governments around the world are under growing pressure to improve their education systems. Rising spending is increasingly being matched by reforms to help disadvantaged children, invest in teachers and improve vocational training. But a widespread lack of evaluation of the impact of these reforms could hinder their effectiveness and hurt educational outcomes, according to a new OECD report, which finds that once new policies are adopted, there is little follow-up. Only around one in 10 of the 450 different reforms put in place between 2008 and 2014 were evaluated for their impact by governments between their launch and the publication of this report.
Measuring policy impact more rigorously and consistently will prove more cost-effective in the long-run, says the OECD. It will also ensure that future reforms are built on policies proven to work over a timeframe independent of political cycles or pressures.
“Too many education reforms are failing to measure success or failure in the classroom,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, at the launch of the report at the Education World Forum in London. “While it is encouraging to see a greater focus on outcomes, rather than simply increasing spending, it’s crucial that reforms are given the time to work and their impact is analysed.”
“Education represents 12.9% of government spending, with total expenditure across the OECD exceeding 2.5 trillion dollars a year, equivalent to the GDP of the United Kingdom,” he added. “This valuable investment must be deployed in the most effective way. Reforms on paper need to translate into better education in our schools and classrooms.”
The report finds a trend of reform priorities converging across the OECD. Of the reforms analysed, most focused on: supporting disadvantaged children and early childhood care; reforming vocational education systems and building links with employers; improving training and professional development for teachers; and strengthening school evaluation and assessment.
A second OECD report underlines the continuing need for improving education. Education at a Glance Interim Report: Update of Employment and Educational Attainment Indicators finds that almost one in six 25-34 year-olds across OECD countries does not have the skills considered essential to function in today’s society, and the situation has changed little since 2003.
There are 13 OECD countries with 15% or more unqualified youth, including countries like France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand or Italy.
“Having one out of every six young adults entering the world of adult life without a qualification is a major risk for labour markets and societies, said Andreas Schleicher. “Progress has to be achieved across the educational ladder, with priority given to diminishing the share of the least educated among the young.”
Adolescents twice as likely to be out of school as children of primary school age, say UNESCO and UNICEF
New report shows why ‘business as usual’ won’t lead to universal primary or secondary education
Around 63 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 years are denied their right to an education, according to a new joint report from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and UNICEF, Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, released today during the Education World Forum.
Globally, 1 in 5 adolescents is not in school compared to almost 1 in 10 primary school-age children. So adolescents are twice as likely to be out of school as their younger counterparts. The report also shows that as children get older, the risk that they will never start school or will drop out increases.
In total, 121 million children and adolescents have either never started school or dropped out despite the international community’s promise to achieve Education for All by 2015. Data show that there has been almost no progress in reducing this number since 2007. Children living in conflict, child labourers and those facing discrimination based on ethnicity, gender and disability are the most affected. There is also a growing concern that previous gains in expanding access to education will erode without a major shift in policies and resources.
“Business as usual strategies based on more teachers, more classrooms and more textbooks are not enough to reach the most disadvantaged children,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “We need targeted interventions to reach the families displaced by conflict, the girls forced to stay home, the children with disabilities and the millions obliged to work. But these policies come at a cost. This report serves as wake-up call to mobilise the resources needed to guarantee basic education for every child, once and for all.”
As pressure mounts to include universal secondary education in the post-2015 global development agenda, the report shows the way forward to break the barriers that keep children out of school. If current trends continue, 25 million children – 15 million girls and 10 million boys – are likely to never set foot inside a classroom.
“To realize the promise of universal education for every child, we need a global commitment to invest in three areas: getting more children into primary school; in helping more children – especially girls – stay in school through the secondary level; and improving the quality of the learning they receive throughout their schooling,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “There should be no debate among these priorities: we need to do all three, because the success of every child – and the impact of our investment in education – depends on all three.”
The highest out-of-school rates are in Eritrea and Liberia, where 66 per cent and 59 per cent of children, respectively, do not go to primary school. In many countries, the rates of exclusion are even higher for older children, especially girls. In Pakistan, 58 per cent of adolescent girls roughly between the ages of 12 and 15 are out of school compared to 49 per cent of boys.
Poverty is the greatest barrier to education, according to the report. In Nigeria, two-thirds of children in the poorest households are not in school and almost 90 per cent of them will probably never enrol. In contrast, only 5 per cent of the richest children are out of school and most of them are expected to start in the future (see the interactive data tool).