Adapting the education system to a changing environment
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This chapter reviews Iceland’s performance in skills accumulation against the backdrop of a rapidly changing economic environment and discusses directions for further improvements. Since the late 1990s, the government has considerably raised expenditure on education, which is now among the highest in the OECD relative to GDP. Nonetheless, Iceland continues to have one of the largest shares of those in the working age population who have not attained upper secondary or higher qualifications, and educational achievements of 15-year olds are not outstanding relative to the country’s advanced state of economic development. This is all the more unsatisfactory because spending per student in the compulsory education sector exceeds the OECD mean considerably, even after controlling for differences in per capita GDP. Measures to improve outcomes include curriculum adjustments and an enhancement of teaching evaluation and quality. While ensuring that students acquire a satisfactory basic set of competencies, there is room for reducing the average duration of primary and secondary education, which is quite long by international comparison. In contrast to upper secondary attainment, that for the tertiary sector is above the OECD average, and higher education has to cope with an enormous rise in participation. With a view to maintaining quality in the face of these developments, the government has introduced legislation that is welcome. However, it does not address the issue of tuition fees, which are authorised in the private but not in the public sector.