Education at a Glance 2016
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Education at a Glance 2016

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. It provides key information on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools.

The 2016 edition introduces a new indicator on the completion rate of tertiary students and another one on school leaders. It provides more trend data and analysis on diverse topics, such as: teachers’ salaries; graduation rates; expenditure on education; enrolment rates; young adults who are neither employed nor in education or training; class size; and teaching hours. The publication examines gender imbalance in education and the profile of students who attend, and graduate from, vocational education.

The report covers all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).

This edition includes more than 125 figures and 145 tables. The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create them are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication. More data is available in the OECD Education Statistics database.

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Indicator C2 How do Early Childhood Education Systems Differ Around the World? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator C2 shows enrolment rates in early childhood education and primary education and the impact of early childhood education on performance later in education. It also examines expenditure on early childhood education and characteristics such as pupil-teacher ratios and the percentage of students enrolled in public institutions.

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Chapter Highlights

  • Fifteen-year-old students who attended at least one year of pre-primary education perform better on the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) than those who did not, even after accounting for their socio-economic background.

  • Early childhood education is particularly beneficial for students with an immigrant background. Immigrant students who reported attending pre-primary education outperformed students of immigrant status who had not participated in such programmes by 49 points in the PISA reading assessment, which roughly corresponds to one additional year of schooling.

  • In a majority of OECD countries, education now begins for most children well before they are 5 years old. Some 71% of 3-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education across OECD countries. In OECD countries that are part of the European Union, 77% of 3-year-olds are enrolled.

Figure C2.1. Enrolment rates at age 3 and 4 in early childhood and primary education (2014)

Countries are ranked in descending order of the enrolment rates of 3-year-olds in pre-primary programmes.

Source: OECD. Table C2.1. See Annex 3 for notes (

ContextExpand / Collapse

As parents are more likely to be in the workforce today, there is a growing need for early childhood education. In addition, there is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood education plays for children’s well-being and cognitive and social-emotional development. As a result, ensuring the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy priority in many countries.

Enrolling children in early childhood education can also mitigate social inequalities and promote better student outcomes overall. Many of the inequalities found in education systems are already evident when children enter formal schooling and persist (or increase) as they progress through the school system. In addition, pre-primary education helps to prepare children to enter and succeed in formal schooling.

There are many different ECEC systems and structures within OECD countries. Consequently, there is also a range of different approaches to identifying the boundary between early childhood education and childcare (see the Definitions section at the end of this indicator). These differences should be taken into account when drawing conclusions from international comparisons.

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  • Almost nine out of ten 4-year-olds (86%) are enrolled in pre-primary (or primary education for few of them) across OECD countries.

  • Some 77% of pre-primary children in European OECD countries are enrolled in public institutions, compared to 68% on average across all OECD countries.

  • Expenditure on pre-primary education accounts for an average of 0.6% of GDP, while expenditure on early childhood education development accounts for an average of 0.2% of GDP.

  • In most countries, the proportion of children enrolled in private early childhood education is considerably larger than the proportion enrolled in private primary and secondary educational institutions. Thus, more than 50% of children enrolled in early childhood development programmes and one-third of those enrolled in pre-primary education attend private institutions, on average.

  • The ratio of children to teaching staff is an indicator of the resources devoted to early childhood education. The child-teacher ratio at the pre-primary level, excluding teachers’ aides, ranges from more than 20 children per teacher in Chile, China, France and Mexico to fewer than 10 in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Sweden.

  • Some countries make extensive use of teachers’ aides in pre-primary education, which is shown by smaller ratios of children to contact staff than of children to teaching staff. In Chile, France and the United Kingdom, there is one teachers’ aide per each fourteen pupils or less in pre-primary education.

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Over the past decade, many countries have expanded early childhood education. This increased focus has resulted in the extension of compulsory education to lower ages in some countries, free early childhood education, universal provision of early childhood education and the creation of programmes that integrate care with formal pre-primary education.

On average across OECD countries with 2005 and 2014 data, enrolments in pre-primary education rose from 54% of 3-year-olds in 2005 to 69% in 2014, and from 73% of 4-year-olds in 2005 to 85% in 2014. The enrolment rates of 4-year-olds in pre-primary education increased by 30 percentage points or more in Australia, Chile, Korea, Poland and the Russian Federation between 2005 and 2014.

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