Education at a Glance 2017
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Education at a Glance 2017

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. With more than 125 charts and 145 tables included in the publication and much more data available on the educational database, Education at a Glance 2017 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 2017 edition presents a new focus on fields of study, investigating both trends in enrolment at upper secondary and tertiary level, student mobility, and labour market outcomes of the qualifications obtained in these fields. The publication also introduces for the first time a full chapter dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals, providing an assessment of where OECD and partner countries stand on their way to meeting the SDG targets. Finally, two new indicators are developed and analysed in the context of participation and progress in education: an indicator on the completion rate of upper secondary students and an indicator on admission processes to higher 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).

The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create the tables and charts in Education at a Glance are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication.

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Indicator C6 How many adults participate in education and learning? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator C6 measures the proportion of adults (25-64 year-olds) in formal and/or non-formal education, broken down by skill proficiencies and gender. It also examines the barriers to participate in formal and/or non-formal education, in particular the presence of young children in households. The correlation between being social active (e.g. volunteering) and participation in education is also discussed.


Chapter Highlights

  • Across OECD countries and economies that participated in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), about half of adults (25-64 year-olds) participate in adult education and most of them opt for non-formal education.

  • On average across OECD countries and economies, 35-64 year-olds who live in households with young children are more likely to participate in adult education than those who do not. Among younger adults (25-34 years of age) the pattern reverses: 51% of those living with young children participate compared to 67% of those who do not.

  • In the majority of OECD countries and economies, adults who volunteer at least once a month participate more in formal and/or non-formal education than adults who do not volunteer. In countries with a low overall participation rate in adult education, volunteers tend to participate more than non-volunteers, while this is less evident in countries with a high overall participation rate.

Figure C6.1. Adults’ participation in formal and/or non-formal education, by type (2012 or 2015)
Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), 25-64 year-olds

1. Reference year is 2015; for all other countries and economies the reference year is 2012.

* See note on data for the Russian Federation in the Source section.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the share of the population participating in formal and/or non-formal education.

Source: OECD (2017), Table C6.1a. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (

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Adult learning can play an important role in helping adults to develop and maintain key information-processing skills, and acquire other knowledge and skills, throughout their lives. It is crucial to provide, and ensure access to, organised learning opportunities for adults beyond initial formal education, especially for workers who need to adapt to changes throughout their careers (OECD, 2013).

Lifelong learning can also contribute to non-economic goals, such as personal fulfilment, improved health, civic participation and social inclusion. Social integration requires individuals to have the basic skills and knowledge needed to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and to enjoy the benefits of community life. The large variation in adult learning activities and participation among OECD countries at similar levels of economic development, however, suggests that there are significant differences in learning cultures, learning opportunities at work, and adult-education systems (Borkowsky, 2013).

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  • On average across OECD countries and economies, 24% of adults wanted to participate in learning activities in the 12 months preceding the survey in which they had not yet enrolled. Among these potential participants, the most common reason for not enrolling was that they were too busy at work (29%). Cost (too expensive) and family responsibilities were the next most common reasons, both cited by 15% of potential participants.

  • Social participation in the form of volunteering at least once a month is associated with a higher participation in adult education among inactive, older or low-educated adults – a group which generally has low participation rates.

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