Citizenship and education in a digital world

by Marc Fuster
Consultant, Directorate for Education and Skills

"Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence”, George Orwell wrote in 1943. And in an era of ‘fake news’ and post-truth, it resembles our world today.

Democracies are built upon the principles of equality and the participation of citizens in public deliberation and decision making. But participation can only work if people have at least a basic understanding of the system’s norms and institutions, can form opinions of their own and respect those of others, and are willing to engage in public life one way or another. A new Trends Shaping Education Spotlight looks at how civic education can support students in developing the knowledge and skills needed to take part in the democratic process, especially in an increasingly digitalised world.

Equipping young citizens with civic and political knowledge and skills is at the centre …

Educating our youth to care about each other and the world

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

In 2015, 193 countries committed to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, a shared vision of humanity that provides the missing piece of the globalisation puzzle. The extent to which that vision becomes a reality will in no small way depend on what is happening in today’s classrooms. Indeed, it is educators who hold the key to ensuring that the SDGs become a real social contract with citizens.

Goal 4, which commits to quality education for all, is intentionally not limited to foundation knowledge and skills, such as literacy, mathematics and science, but emphasises learning to live together sustainably. This has inspired the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the global yardstick for success in education, to include global competence in its metrics for quality, equity and effectiveness in education. PISA will assess global competence for the first time ev…

How can countries close the equity gap in education?

by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division,  Directorate for Education and Skills

Education plays a dual role when it comes to social inequality and social mobility. On the one hand, it is the main way for societies to foster equality of opportunity and support upward social mobility for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. On the other hand, the evidence is overwhelming that education often reproduces social divides in societies, through the impact that parents’ economic, social and cultural status has on children’s learning outcomes.

The social divide is already apparent very early in the life of a child, in the time their parents spend on parenting or in the number of words a toddler learns. It progresses through early childhood education and becomes most obvious in the variation in learning outcomes, based on social background, among 15-year-old students who participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). And when literacy and numeracy…

Who really bears the cost of education?

by Marie-Hélène Doumet
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

It can be difficult to get your head around education finance. Who actually pays for it, where does the money come from, and how is it spent are all crucial questions to ask if you want to understand how the money flows in education. In many countries, basic education is considered a right, and governments are expected to ensure universal access to it. However, educational attainment has reached unprecedented levels, and more people are participating in education than ever before, leaving governments struggling to meet the demand through public funds alone. The role of private funding has become more significant in the past decade, particularly at the pre-primary and tertiary levels of education. 
But the reality is more complex than a binary public-private model would suggest. Other financing mechanisms, involving the transfer of funds between governments, households and other private entities, are blurring th…

Are school systems ready to develop students’ social skills?

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Successes and failures in the classroom will increasingly shape the fortunes of countries.  And yet, more of the same education will only produce more of the same strengths and weaknesses. Today’s students are growing up into a world hyperconnected by digitalisation; tomorrow, they’ll be working in a labour market that is already being hollowed-out by automation. For those with the right knowledge and skills, these changes are liberating and exciting. But for those who are insufficiently prepared, they can mean a future of vulnerable and insecure work, and a life lived on the margins.

In today’s schools, students typically learn individually, and at the end of the school year, we certify their individual achievements. But the more interdependent the world becomes, the more it needs great collaborators and orchestrators. Innovation is now rarely the product of individuals working in isolation; instead, it is an outcome…

How much will the literacy level of working-age people change from now to 2022?

by François Keslair
Statistician, Directorate for Education and Skills 

Taken as a whole, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) present a mixed picture for Korea and Singapore. As their economies have grown, these two countries’ education systems have seen fast and impressive improvements; both now rank among PISA’s top performers. However, neither Korea nor Singapore do so well in PIAAC. PIAAC measures the skills of adults aged between 16 and 65, i.e. a large majority of the population, not just the 15-year-olds pupils measured by PISA. And while the skills of younger Koreans and Singaporeans are just as impressive in PIAAC as in PISA, the same cannot be said of their elders, who did not enjoy the advantages of their current successful education systems. The skills of the older population covered by PIAAC simply cannot keep pace with such change.

But why exactly can we draw this conclusion? In other words, why do the driver…

Is the growth of international student mobility coming to a halt?

by Dirk Van Damme
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division,  Directorate for Education and Skills

Higher education is one of the most globally integrated systems of the modern world. There still are important barriers to the international recognition of degrees or the transfer of credits, but some of the basic features of higher education enjoy global convergence and collaboration. This is most visible in the research area, where advanced research is now carried out in international networks. But also in the field of teaching and learning, the international dimension has become very important. The so-called European Higher Education Area stands out as an area where degree structures, credit transfer arrangements and quality assurance frameworks have been aligned in order to adjust qualifications with the needs of an integrated labour market.

Yet, higher education is also one of the most unequal and hierarchical systems of the modern world; globalisation has not yet made the world of h…