Showing posts from December, 2016

Education and skills foster health and well-being, but why is this a problem?

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

Knowing, for example, that tobacco is bad for one’s health influences smoking behaviour much less than being able to control one’s own lifestyle. Schooling, together with non-formal and informal learning experiences, has been found to foster the acquisition of skills that matter for health behaviour. It is one of the great insights of recent educational research that education is a very important driver of social progress, and that this happens through the transfer of knowledge and the development of cognition, but probably even more so through fostering the social and emotional skills that allow people to control and change their behaviours.

Traditional economics measure the benefits of education and skills in its economic gains in employment or earnings. These measures include for example the ‘rate of return’ of an individual’s investment in educational attainment or skills ac…

Lessons for France from PISA 2015

by Gabriela Ramos
OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20

Fifteen years ago, the OECD started evaluating education systems worldwide by testing the knowledge and competences of 15-year-old students through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Right from very first PISA exercise in 2000, we noted that although the results for France were around the OECD average, they revealed a system where children’s socio-economic status had a disproportionate influence on their school grades, and where children from disadvantaged backgrounds did not receive enough support.

The OECD PISA 2015 results are now in. Even if France’s performance hasn’t deteriorated since the last series in 2012, it has not improved much compared to previous rounds either. France’s results for science and mathematics are around the OECD average, while reading comprehension is slightly above average.

Nonetheless, the French system is still markedly two-tier. The number of high-performing students is stab…

Today’s the day

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

The latest results from PISA are released today. Before you look to see how well your country performed on the triennial test of 15-year-olds students around the world, consider this: only 20 short years ago, there was no such thing as a blog. If it weren’t for science and technology, not only would you not be reading this right now, but there wouldn’t be the device on which you’re reading it – or countless other gadgets, medicines, fibres, tools… that have become all but indispensable in our lives.

Obviously, we don’t all have to be scientists to live in the 21st century. But an understanding of some basic principles of science – like the importance of experiments in building a body of scientific knowledge – is essential if we want to make informed decisions about the most pressing issues of our time (or even if we just want to choose the “healthiest” option for lunch).

PISA 2015 focused on students’ performance in and…

Looking forward to PISA

by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Tomorrow, the OECD will publish the 2015 PISA results. The world’s premier global metric for education will tell us which countries have the best school systems, based on the performance of 15-year-olds in science, mathematics and reading over a two-hour test. 

PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) was introduced in 2000 and held every three years since. The test is of skills, not knowledge: what you can do with what you know is what counts. But over time the emphasis has shifted. The focus today is whether students can think like a scientist, reason like a mathematician and distinguish between good and bad arguments in a written text. We live in an era of unimaginable technology breakthroughs, conflicting values and threatened political norms. Literacy, in all three of the foundational domains, is the key to making sense of the world and shaping it for the better - for everyone, not just elites.

The …

Discover your talent!

by Deborah Roseveare
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division, Directorate for Education and Skills

Last night I got a taxi home and as often happens, the driver and I got chatting. Then he asked me a rather strange question – “Do you like the smell in my car?” Well, I have to say the smell was a very subtle one but it led to a fascinating conversation. 

With some pride, he told me that he was trying out a new product for cleaning car interiors developed by a friend of his. His friend already had his own business selling these products and then came the big surprise – this friend is only 17 years old. But isn’t he still in school? I asked. Yes of course, he was doing a professional baccalaureate (a vocational programme here in France).

This talented young man, who was smart enough to have skipped a class in primary school, had a passion for chemistry and had been doing experiments – more or less successfully -- in his mother’s kitchen from a young age. So why had he chosen a profession…