Although International data are often referred to in the public debate, they are often no less tricky to interpret. Education in Europe: Key figures presents a wide variety of indicators through 30 factsheets including texts, focus, graphs, tables and maps. It thus provides the chance to compare and contrast the multiple dimensions in play for success in education, and this for all European Union member-states that are facing the same challenges, ranging from education for all to learning how to live together in diversity.
Authors: Florence Lefresne, Yann Fournier, DEPP-Mirei
The first chapter deals with the economic and social environment of families with children in the European Union (EU). The number of siblings, the parents’ educational attainment level and the comfort of their housing reveal significantly different average characteristics from one country to the next. For example, while 60% of the children from 0 to 17 have parents with higher education degrees in Finland or Ireland, there are fewer than 25% in Croatia, Portugal and Romania. While there are less than 1% of families living in housing without a shower or bathtub in the large majority of northern and western European countries, there are 36% in Romania and 20% in Bulgaria. The risk of poverty or social exclusion are systematically higher everywhere when the parents have lower educational-attainment levels.
Economic and social environment
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Chapter two presents the great diversity of educational systems in the EU. Their very organisation bears the mark of these singularities. Although there are a majority of common-core structures that encompass primary and the first cycle of secondary education, some countries in contrast stream students into different pathways early (Austria, Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands). These are countries that traditionally have a well-developed apprenticeship system, with the notable exception of Denmark that has long had both a common-core syllabus up to the end of the first cycle of secondary school and an extensive apprenticeship system. The methods for the care and education of young children, the mandatory enrolment age (beginning and end), the organisation of teaching cycles and the theoretical age of moving from one cycle to the next vary from country to country.
Download the data from chapter 2 "Education systems"
Chapter three is devoted to education costs. The share of national wealth allocated to education was on average 5% in 2012 among the 21 EU-member countries of the OECD, but it varied by almost one to two fold within the EU with France located slightly above the average. Likewise, the impact of the 2008 economic crisis on these expenses proved to vary from country to country. The annual education expenditures per student are mainly influenced by four factors likely to lead to different choices according to the country, i.e. teachers’ salaries and teaching time, students’ instruction time and class size.
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The fourth chapter presents the main characteristics of teachers in the EU. Mostly female, the teaching corps is undergoing uneven aging across countries, which places educational systems before the challenge of the magnitude of future recruitment and training of these new teachers. Very predominantly holders of bachelor or masters degrees, at least for those who teach in secondary education, teachers are subject to highly varying regulations for their working time and the tasks they are assigned within the EU. Some countries, such as France, regulate the teaching time, while others, like the United Kingdom, regulate the time teachers are present in school.
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Chapter five deals with the results obtained by the different educational systems from the angle of student performances and the equitable distribution of those performances. What are mainly used here are the findings of the PISA 2012 survey, which focuses on children born in 1996. The performances of the European countries are also examined regarding the quantified goals set as part of the Education and Training Strategy 2020 in matters concerning the fight against early school leavers, the proportion of higher-education graduates, pre-primary enrolment, lifelong learning, students’ PISA performance in reading literacy, mathematical literacy or science, in matters of learning mobility, and lastly, the employability of recent graduates.
Education outcomes: performance and equity
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Chapter six focuses on the movement from initial training to the labour market. Degrees everywhere play a determining factor in gaining access to employment and income, with continuing studies for attaining higher educational levels invariably proving to be systematically profitable. Penalised in accessing employment, people with few or no degrees also have less access to continuing training, which is unevenly developed within the EU. The gender issue deserves particular attention: although they have lower educational attainment levels on average, males enjoy a systematically better position in the labour market and higher income. The impact of education is far from being limited to the labour market and income. In all European countries, for example, the risk of obesity for adults over 18 increases tangibly for those with few or low-level degrees.
From initial training to employment
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Mise à jour : février 2017
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