©Issei Kato/REUTERS

The world is no longer divided between rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly educated ones.

Over the last three years, the United Nations has been working to establish a global sustainable development agenda to succeed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015. This important agenda, comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, is due to be adopted at the UN summit in September in New York.

©Julien Daniel/OECD

Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was at the OECD on 10 July to discuss France’s education reforms. She received OECD recommendations on making education more inclusive.


The New Industrial Revolution affects the workforce in several ways. Ongoing innovation in renewable energy, nanotech, biotechnology, and most of all in information and communication technology will change labour markets worldwide. Especially medium-skilled workers run the risk of being replaced by computers doing their job more efficiently. This trend creates two challenges: employees performing tasks that are easily automated need to find work with tasks bringing other added value. And secondly, it propels people into a global competitive job market.


©LEGO Foundation

It’s a well-trodden path to observe that the school systems of today are not preparing children for the jobs of today, let alone tomorrow. But what changes to our school systems are necessary to address this challenge?

The OECD PISA surveys of educational competence among 15-year-olds have taught policymakers many lessons since the programme was launched in 2000. They have revealed several myths as well.


Schools are places of learning and producing the innovators of tomorrow. But did you know that in most OECD countries, schools lag behind workplaces and homes in the adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) tools?

©OECD/Marco Illuminati

Eight giant balloons from Japan floated in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on the weekend of 30 August, a reminder of one of the worst natural disasters of recent times–and of the determination of survivors to rebuild their region.

South Africa has made rapid progress in educational attainment compared with other emerging countries, with near full enrolment in primary and secondary schooling. Pre-primary schooling has expanded fast too, and so to a lesser extent has third-level education.

Chris has just received her car driving licence and wants to buy her first car. This table below shows the details of four cars she finds at a local car dealer.

Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills ©Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

What teachers–and the rest of us–can learn from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS).

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People are by far the most important input when building quality education. So it is little surprise that teachers’ salaries represent the largest single cost item in the labour intensive education system. Salaries and working conditions play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers. Teachers are the backbone of the education sector which is a crucial determinant of productivity and growth.

How do our young students perform at school compared with their peers in other countries? Are they ready and equipped to take on the world of tomorrow? The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which surveys competence among 15 year olds around the world, gives ground for encouragement. 

Classrooms need to be places for teaching creativity, as well as basic competence. Can it be done? 

© Aly Song/Reuters

In a global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer improvement by national standards alone, but the best performing school systems internationally. Latest results from the PISA assessment, the world’s metric for evaluating learning outcomes at school, issued 3 December, show striking changes in the world’s talent. 

Here’s a sobering statistic: in around 20 of the world’s wealthiest countries, at least one in 10 adults can make sense of only basic texts. Ask them a question based on a piece of writing, and they’ll be able to answer only if the text is short, uses simple vocabulary and provides clues by repeating words used in the question. 

Some 21% of workers are over-qualified for the jobs they do. This is a key finding in the first edition of the OECD Skills Outlook, which reports on a survey of skills among 157,000 adults in 24 countries and regions.

Until now considered a model in terms of reducing poverty and inequality, Brazil has recently faced the wrath of hundreds of thousands of protesters from across all sections of society, riling up against inflation, while calling for better access to health care, education and other public services.OECD analyst Horacio Levy explains.

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People who have completed tertiary education can generally expect to earn more than those who don’t. But governments and societies benefit from these people’s investments as well.

Lessons for educators

What are the key issues to know when devising better policies for education or simply trying to improve learning programmes? Here are some personal reflections.

1. In the global economy, the benchmark for educational success is no longer merely improvement by local or national standards, but the best performing education systems internationally. 


The current crisis has continued to affect people’s lives across the world, and nowhere is this more evident than in the deteriorating labour market in many countries. Young people have been hit particularly hard and risk being permanently scarred from joblessness and even exclusion.

Education for all

Young people from poorer families are badly underrepresented in higher education. That risks exposing them to a lifetime of reduced earnings and undermines the foundations of wider economic growth. What can be done? Economically disadvantaged students benefit from a mix of grants and loans in third-level education, but they also need better support from the earliest years of their school careers.


©Christian Charisius

Education is one OECD department that has embraced the information revolution.

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Making strides in scientific innovation is no longer an initiative of just a few select high-income countries. Research and innovation have become increasingly democratised; indeed, Asia’s emerging economies are now gaining prominence as world hubs of scientific research. While the United States remains at the top in terms of the volume of scientific publications produced and collaborations made, these countries are eager to develop their own innovation capabilities, and strengthen their research and academic partnerships.

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More students are looking beyond their borders to give their education a competitive edge. 

How can teachers know what–let alone how–to teach when the world is changing so quickly around us? 

Policymakers need solutions to help their economies move forward in today’s world. The OECD Skills Strategy, launched at the 2012 Ministerial Council Meeting in May, may prove fundamental. Here’s why. 


Life skills and a passion for learning are the key to the global knowledge economy. Thriving in this environment demands several qualities. 

Global competition and the global financial crisis have put additional pressures on education programmes around the world. Radically new approaches to learning are now needed.


Human capital spending is needed to reshape China’s growth engine. The action can start at an early age. 

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