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OECD’s Education at a Glance shows how crisis effects spread into our education systems: Unions should be part of the solution to make lifelong learning a reality for all


The OECD indicators measuring the current state of education internationally, published today, reveal that public spending on education is not immune against fiscal consolidation and austerity policies. Although public spending devoted to educational institutions is still substantial in all OECD countries, not all governments have been able to prevent spending cuts and to maintain a sufficient level of spending necessary for the provision of high quality education as a public good. Over the period from 2009 to 2011, the period subsequent to the onset of the financial and economic crisis, public expenditure on educational institutions fell in one-third of OECD countries.

With Youth unemployment numbers at 16, 3 % in 2013 in the OECD area alone, policy makers took a turn in a wrong direction. This is where austerity kicks in, in a most harmful manner, and affects the most vulnerable in our societies” said John Evans, TUAC General Secretary.

At the same time, private spending on education for all levels of education combined increased on average across OECD countries. A significant change occurred with regard to the funding of tertiary education. While between 2000 and 2011, the average share of public funding for tertiary institutions decreased from 73.7% to 68.3%, the share of private funding for tertiary education increased in 21 of 26 countries for which comparable data are available. In a number of countries, the increase ranged from 9 up to 37 percentage points.

We are faced with unacceptable income inequalities already. The privatisation trend is worrisome as access to quality education could be more constrained, driving further social inequalities in the longer-term”, said Evans, who is attending the G20 Labour Ministers’ Meeting in Melbourne tomorrow, where the Labour20 will address quality education and inclusive growth issues (for more information, visit: http://www.tuac.org/en/public/e-docs/00/00/0F/18/document_hottopic.phtml )

Maintaining sufficient public funding in order to provide access to quality for education for all is not the only challenge governments must address”, said TUAC Senior Policy Advisor Roland Schneider. “They must do more to facilitate intergenerational mobility and tackle barriers preventing many older workers from participating in further training.”

According to the OECD indicators, participation in adult learning is to a large extent age and skill biased, favouring participation of younger and already higher skilled workers, while those in need of further training are often prevented from participation by a demanding workload, time constraints and high costs of training.

This is where trade unions come in and can play a crucial role in spreading the learning message and facilitating better access to training for younger and older workers. However, this is not appropriately acknowledged, yet, by policy analysts and governments”, Schneider said.

For a quick overview of the key findings of Education at a Glance 2014, click here for Highlights in English and here for Highlights in French

For data on single countries:
English country note page link www.oecd.org/edu/education-at-a-glance-2014-country-notes.htm
French country note link www.oecd.org/fr/edu/regards-sur-leducation-2014-notes-pays.htm

For Data visualization go to:
(English): www.compareyourcountry.org/education
(French): www.compareyourcountry.org/education?lg=fr