Skills beyond school

Education at a Glance 2001 - Chapters summaries


The 2001 edition of Education at a Glance - OECD Indicators provides a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators. The indicators represent the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally. They provide information on the human and financial resources invested in education, on how education and learning systems operate and evolve, and on the returns to educational investments. The thematic organisation of the volume, and the background information accompanying the tables and charts, make this publication a valuable resource for anyone interested in analysing education systems across countries.

This year's edition brings the comparative review of education systems to the end of the 1990s so that, for the first time, the OECD education indicators now cover a complete decade; facilitating examination of trends in the provision and outcomes of education during the 1990s.

The 2001 edition of Education at a Glance includes new indicators on: the contribution of education to changes in economic growth; trends in public and private payments for education as well as public subsidies for education and their beneficiaries; participation in skill improvement among the employed population; the incentive structures governments offer to attract and retain qualified teachers; the use of ICT in education; trends in student achievement; and inequality in literacy skills among the adult population.

A growing number of OECD countries are now providing data for many of the indicators. In addition, through the World Education Indicators programme (WEI), which the OECD co-ordinates in co-operation with UNESCO , 18 non-OECD countries have contributed to this edition, extending the coverage of some of the indicators to more than two-thirds of the world population. These non-OECD countries are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and Zimbabwe. Data for these countries are reported on the basis of OECD definitions and methods to ensure comparability with the OECD indicators. Data for Israel are presented together with those from WEI participants.

The indicators are grouped into six chapters. This year's edition provide information on...

  • Chapter A presents indicators on the context in which education systems operate. It focuses on the demographic background to educational provision and on the existing stock of human capital. Chapter A also seeks to estimate the effect of changes in explanatory variables, including human capital, on changes in output per capita growth rates over the period 1980 to 1990.
  • Chapter B deals with the financial and human resources that countries invest in education, comparing spending on education relative to number of students, national income, and the size of the public purse; the ways in which education systems are funded and the sources from which the funds originate; and how the funds are spent.
  • Chapter C presents indicators on access to education, participation, progression and completion. Trends in enrolment and completion at the various levels of education and in the different types of educational institution are shown in order to indicate how educational supply and demand have evolved in different countries.
  • Chapter D deals with the learning environment and the various ways in which school systems are organised. It includes data on the compensation of teachers; the demography of the teaching force; training requirements for new teachers; the numbers of hours for which teachers are required to teach and students are required to be in the classroom; subject emphases in the curriculum; decision-making about the curriculum; and the availability and use of computers in schools.
  • Chapter E presents a broad picture of individual, social and labour-market outcomes of education. It deals with labour force participation by level of educational attainment; education and work among the youth population; and earnings and educational attainment.
  • Finally, Chapter F presents indicators on trends in the level of student performance in mathematics and science and the distribution of adult literacy skills.

Education at a Glance is designed to provide a comprehensive statistical description of the state of education internationally. It therefore covers a broad range of educational domains and the data presented are accompanied by detailed explanations that can give readers guidance on how to draw valid conclusions from the indicators and to interpret differences between countries. In order to keep the publication manageable, the number of indicators has been limited to 31, the choice of indicators being guided by four principles:

  • Education at a Glance seeks to provide an appropriate balance between an encyclopaedic function (showing how things are and where countries stand) and a yearbook function (showing how things are changing). Trends are highlighted, in particular, in Indicators A1 (changes in student demography), A2 (changes in educational attainment), A3 (the contribution of education to changes in economic growth), B1, B2, B3 and B4 (changes in public and private expenditure on education in relation to the number of students enrolled, GDP and total public expenditure), C1 and C3 (changes in expected years of schooling), and F1, F2 and F4 (changes in mathematics and science achievement).
  • Successive editions seek to maintain sufficient room for innovation in the indicators in order to reflect emerging policy issues. Almost one third of the data tables have been newly introduced this year (or are recurrent indicators that are not produced annually): A3 (contribution of human capital to changes in economic growth), B6 (expenditure per student on teaching, ancillary services and research and development), C4 (science graduates in the labour force), D6 and D7 (information technology in education), F1, F2 and F4 (trends in mathematics and science achievement) and F3 (inequality in literacy skills in relation to income inequality). About another third of the indicators were present in the preceding edition but have been improved by the introduction of new methods . This applies to the financial indicators B1, B2, B3, B4 and B5, and to Indicators C5 (students with special needs), C6 (participation in continuing education and training), D1 (teachers' salaries), and D2 (age and gender distribution of teachers). The remaining indicators are unchanged in both content and presentation from the preceding edition.
  • Almost half of the indicators relate, directly or indirectly, to the output and outcomes of education systems, reflecting a progressive shift in public and governmental concern away from control over the resources and content of education towards results. These are indicators A2 (educational attainment), A3 (the contribution of human capital to economic growth), C2 and C4 (output of educational institutions), E1, E2, E3, E4 and E5 (employment, earnings and education), and F1, F2, F3 and F4 (student achievement and adult literacy).
  • Finally, about one third of the indicators look at variation within countries, focusing on issues of equity in the provision and outcomes of education. These are Indicators A2 (gender differences in educational attainment), C5 (special educational needs), C6 (continuing education and training), E1, E2, E3 and E4 (employment, earnings and education among different age groups and the genders), F3 (inequality in literacy skills and income), F2 (variation within countries in student achievement) and F4 (gender differences in student achievement).

The companion volume Education Policy Analysis takes up selected themes of key importance for governments. The latest edition of that publication, which was prepared as background for the meeting of OECD Ministers of Education in April 2001, examines promising directions for lifelong learning policies; performance by various countries in achieving lifelong learning; differences in participation in lifelong learning; skills required in the knowledge economy; and alternate futures for schools.


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