OECD Education Ministers met informally in Oslo on 9-10 June 2009 under the chairmanship of Norway’s Minister of Education, Bård Vegar Solhjell, to discuss how to improve equity in education and reduce dropout rates in upper secondary school. Ministers were updated on recent OECD findings on equity in education and had a frank and open dialogue on these issues. They agreed that equity in education means that everyone should have access to a minimum standard of education and every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full educational potential.
Ministers recognised that fair and inclusive education is a powerful lever to make society more equitable and promote social mobility – particularly in times of economic and social crisis. But they noted that despite high political interest in improving equity and tackling school failure, much remains to be done. Ministers welcomed the OECD’s work on quantifying the economic costs of inequalities in education outcomes and called on the OECD to help them make the economic case for maintaining investments in education. They also welcomed the work the OECD is planning on Encouraging Quality in Early Childhood and on Education and on Assessing Progress in Improving Equity in Education.
Ministers heard details of the new online collaborative platform to be launched at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on 24-25 June 2009. Called Educationtoday: OECD’s education lighthouse for the way out of the crisis, it is designed to allow countries to exchange information on the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the education sector and their policy responses to these challenges. In his summary of the meeting, Minister Solhjell described this project as “a very precious instrument that could immensely help countries”.