OECD report cover

OECD report takes the pulse of education worldwide

By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report

Which country devotes the highest proportion of its public spending to education?* And which country has the highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with upper secondary education?** The answers to these and many other vital questions about education policy can be found in Education at a Glance 2013, the annual education report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

OECD report coverThe report shows that many countries are still struggling with youth unemployment, and looks at the relationship between education levels and employment. Only 4.8% of people with tertiary degrees in OECD countries were unemployed in 2011, while 12.6% of people who had not completed secondary education were unemployed, according to the report. The OECD countries that provide vocational programmes to help young people learn skills targeted for the labour market are doing better, however: Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Luxembourg have kept youth unemployment below 8% by providing vocational programmes for a high number of graduates. These findings show that education systems need to better prepare students by giving them the skills needed for work, as we highlighted in the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report.

To provide the kind of good-quality education that prepares students for employment, schools first need good teachers – and one way to attract good teachers is to pay them well. The OECD report provides an interesting insight into how different countries value their teachers, by comparing teachers’ salaries with salaries in other occupations that require the same level of education.

On average, teachers in OECD countries earn 80% to 89% of the salaries of other full-time workers with tertiary education in the same country. Lower secondary teachers in Canada, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, South Korea and Spain all earn higher salaries, on average, than non-teachers. At the other end of the spectrum, lower secondary teachers in the Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, the Slovak Republic and the United States earn close to half of the salary of non-teachers.

Salaries have a direct impact on the attractiveness and prestige of teaching, and on schools’ ability to attract talented teachers. The economic crisis has lowered average teacher salaries across OECD countries with available data, for the first time since 2000, by around 2% at all levels of education between 2009 and 2011, which is likely to make it harder for education systems to attract and retain the best teachers. Our upcoming 2013-14 EFA Global Monitoring Report will look at how investing wisely in teachers can improve learning outcomes, particularly for the disadvantaged. In the meantime, we recommend that you look through the OECD report: it is full of revealing information about how OECD countries approach education, and how these policies affect learning and employment.

* Mexico devotes the highest proportion of its public spending to education.
** South Korea (Republic of Korea) has the highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with upper secondary education.



  1. If we are talking about universal literacy then the problem of child labour need not bother us. The children are to be enrolled in school at the age of six . Elementary education is upto 4th or 5th grade. Majority of children who enter job market do so by the age of eleven or twelve.

    Our experience of last twenty five years show that parents generally do not remove children from school if they are studying well and showing progress. A large number of dropouts at elementary level are due to different problems which are related to schools, and quality of education and the treatment children of parents who are illiterate, whose jobs are migrant in nature or whose children come to school “dirty” or have different language background and hence difficulty in communication get at some schools. (The reasons mentioned are only to show that not parents but schools are to be worked with to gear them to accommodate different groups of children)
    The issue of child labour and cultural taboos for girls are no doubt important hurdles but at the middle school level. By then we have to make everybody literate meaning the children should have mastered reading and writing skills in the first five years of schooling
    Rajani Paranjpe
    Founder president
    Door Step School

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