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Showing posts from May, 2017

Why are immigrants less proficient in literacy than native-born adults?

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by Theodora Xenogiani
Senior Policy Analyst, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs



Why is it that highly educated migrants to OECD countries are less likely to be employed than native-born adults who are similarly educated, even if they have lived in their host country for several years? The OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) provides some answers. Based on results from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), a new Adult Skills in Focus shows that immigrants tend to have lower proficiency in the language of their new country than native-born residents. On average, the difference amounts to about 3.5 years of schooling and a difference is observed even when comparing immigrant and native adults with the same level of education.

Migrants in the various countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) differ in their reasons for migration, their country of origin, the time they have already spent in the host country, and the age at which they arrived. For …

Is more choice always a good thing?

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Many education systems around the world are looking for ways to give parents more choice over where they send their children to school. Proponents of school choice defend the rights of parents to send their children to their preferred school, whether because of the quality of the school, the school ethos or religious denomination. Expanding school choice, they argue, can stimulate competition and encourage schools to innovate.

But opponents argue that this type of market-based system tends to skim wealthier students from the state school system, resulting in a network of socially and culturally segregated schools. Critics also say that voucher systems divert public resources to private providers, leaving state schools with a disproportionate number of disadvantaged students and tighter budgets to support them.

What does OECD evidence show?

Across OECD countries, two out of three parents of 15-year-olds say they …

Dollars and sense? Financial literacy among 15-year-olds

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by Andreas Schleicher 
Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD
Pierre Poret
Director of the Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, OECD

Two in three 15-year-old students earn money from work activity, and more than one in two hold a bank account. And yet, among students in OECD countries who took the 2015 PISA test in financial literacy, fewer than one in three of them reached Level 4 on the assessment – the level that signals the kinds of knowledge and skills that are essential for managing a bank account or a financial task of similar complexity. And the demands on their financial skills rise as students get older: 79% of Australian students took out a public loan in 2013; in the Netherlands, students graduate with an average debt of USD18 000.

Being able to interpret financial documents and make financial decisions that take into account longer-term consequences, such as understanding the overall cost implications of a loan, are precisely the kinds of thi…

Knowing and actively debating why, the heart of every policy

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by Rien Rouw
Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

What makes some of the largest companies in the world successful? According to consultant Simon Sinek in a very popular TedTalk it is because they start with the ‘why’. While many companies are good in telling what they do and how they do it, outstanding firms succeed in organising and communicating from their raison d’ĂȘtre. Because that is what the why is about: the reason for existence of organisations, their purposes, beliefs and aspirations. Communicating from the why goes something like this: “we want to support you to take control of your life (why), therefore all our devices are user friendly (how), such as this beautiful computer (what)”. The why is crucial Sinek argues, because it inspires and engages both employees and customers.

Does this simple concept only apply to the world of business, or would it also hold true for public services, more specifically for education? There is certainly evidence from several ed…

Who benefits when international students pay higher tuition fees?

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by Dirk Van Damme Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills 

In 2014, over 3 million students in OECD countries – more than double the amount in 2000 – were studying outside their country of citizenship. International students go to study in countries with reputations for academic excellence; but they are frequently also seen as seeking economic and social opportunities in the host country.

As many countries seek to restrict immigration, international students are becoming a targeted population. One of the policies that aim to reduce the number of incoming international students is charging higher tuition fees for international students compared to national students (“national” meaning outside the European Economic Area [EEA] in the case of European countries). Countries also hold the view that national resources and taxpayers’ money should not be spent to subsidise international students, so they increasingly aim to charge the full tu…

Do new teachers feel prepared for teaching?

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by Yoon Young Lee
Consultant, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
“Don’t smile in March.”

As a new, enthusiastic and slightly nervous secondary school teacher in the Republic of Korea, I was perplexed to receive this advice from other, more experienced teachers. I took it to mean that as a new teacher, I should be strict and impersonal with my students, showing them that “I mean business”, particularly during the first month. I was even more surprised to find that variations of this adage – for example, “Don’t smile until Christmas” - exist in other countries.

The fact that  this advice was given, even given half in jest, shows how challenging teaching can be for first-time teachers.

One of the greatest challenge for new teachers, does not come from not knowing what to teach, but from not knowing how to teach what they know and how to manage a classroom in all its strange and exciting complexity. Some days, students are not willing to participate in discussion. Other days, new te…

How to surf the new wave of globalisation

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Globalisation is connecting people, cities, countries and continents, bringing together a majority of the world’s population in ways that vastly increase our individual and collective potential, and creating an integrated market in products and services. One in three jobs in the business sector now depends on demand in other countries. In fact, a single product is often produced by workers in different parts of the world along the so-called Global Value Chain. Global value chains give small companies and countries unprecedented opportunities to reach global markets and create new jobs.

But the same forces have made the world more volatile, more complex and more uncertain. The rolling processes of outsourcing and the hollowing out of jobs, particularly for routine tasks, have radically altered the nature of work. For those with the advantage of the right knowledge and skills, this is liberating and exciting. In In…

Assessing school assessment in Romania

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by Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills


We published our review of school assessment and evaluation in Romania today, and the report received a lot of attention. We had done our last assessment of education in Romania in 2000, and it was a very different country back then. It was only in 2011 that Romania put in place an inclusive vision for education, a vision of 21st-century learning and 21st-century assessment. Since then, the country has made remarkable progress in backing that vision up with institutional capacity. Perhaps most important, Romania has been one of Europe’s success stories in terms of delivering improved results. Over the past decade, only Portugal has seen faster improvement in our PISA science assessment than Romania.

But it’s important to look forward, since Romania’s schools today will be Romania’s society tomorrow. And today, 40% of Romanian 15-year-olds still lack the foundation skills they need for lifelong learning and produc…