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Government Policy, Mainstream Media Reports, Poverty & Socio-Economic Status and Education, Research on Education, SOSNZ, Teacher Shortages

OECD Report ‘Education at a Glance’

An OECD report released today puts New Zealand at the top of the list of countries for the percentage of its public spending spent on education.   According to the report, NZ spends 21.2 per cent of its public spending to education, whereas the OECD average was just 13%.

New Zealand was reported as spending 7.2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, fifth behind Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway.

The report starts by saying that “Governments should increase investment in early childhood programmes and maintain reasonable costs for higher education in order to reduce inequality, boost social mobility and improve people’s employment prospects”.  Interestingly, the USA is one of four countries where more than 40% of young people from low educational backgrounds have not completed upper secondary education, and less than 20% have attained tertiary qualifications.  It does beg the question why we are following in their footsteps with Charter Schools and increased national testing, given their very poor performance.

It further states that “[e]]nrolling children early in formal education and keeping schools mixed in terms of social backgrounds have more impact in boosting educational equality than other factors, such as parental support or the cost of tuition fees. Addressing inequality early is key as little can be done to remedy poor outcomes later in school, without compromising the quality of higher education.”

And the importance of early childhood education is underlined again later in the report, “Starting school at an early age pays off in the long run: OECD’s PISA tests of 15-year-olds show that, in most countries, pupils who have attended pre-primary education tend to perform better than those who have not. It also shows that longer pre-primary education, smaller pupil-to-teacher ratios and higher public expenditure per child all enhance the positive effects of pre-primary schooling.”

Some Key Findings

  • Young women are five percentage points more likely than young men to become better educated than their parents (40% compared with 35%), while young men are more likely than young women to have lower educational attainment than their parents (15% compared with 11%).
  • The educational attainment of mothers has a stronger impact on students’ reading performance than the primary language at home or the proportion of immigrant students in a school.
  • 58% of primary teachers are at least 40 years old on average in OECD countries. The proportion exceeds 70% in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Sweden. At secondary level, 63% of teachers are at least 40, and 70% or more in Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany and Italy.
  • On average, OECD countries spend USD 9 252 annually per student from primary through tertiary education: USD 7 719 per primary student, USD 9 312 per secondary student and USD 13 728 per tertiary student.

Read the press release and report here:


OECD (2012), Education at a Glance 2012: Highlights, OECD Publishing.

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


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