Table of Contents

  • A lack of education and learning opportunities continues to threaten the future of children in Europe and Central Asia. Across the region, 3.4 million children of primary and secondary school age are out of school, and an additional 19.5 million children in school do not reach the minimum level of proficiency in mathematics. This learning crisis has been further exacerbated by school closures at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Countries in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (EECA) have ambitious aims to improve their economic competitiveness and civic participation. A highly skilled population is critical to creating the productive and modern economies and societies that these countries wish to build, which makes developing high-achieving and equitable education systems central to the future success of the region.

  • The Eastern Europe and Central Asia This report focuses on countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that are supported by the UNICEF ECARO office and participated in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment in 2018—Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. (EECA) region is undergoing rapid economic, social and political changes. While many countries in the region have made progress on several development indicators, they also face substantial challenges. Most countries are still struggling to attain the same level of development as international benchmarks, with per capita gross domestic product still well below the average across OECD countries. Economic inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, remains particularly high and/or is rising in many countries. Finally, good governance is an important issue and there is a recognized need to build trustworthy and effective systems in the region.

  • Countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia This report focuses on PISA-participating countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that are supported by the UNICEF ECARO office. The ten countries from this region that participated in PISA 2018 are Azerbaijan (only the city of Baku participated in PISA 2018), Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. (EECA) have undergone tremendous social and political changes in the last 30 years. Most have transitioned from centralised and planned societies to market-based ones and economic development, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per-capita, has risen overall (World Bank, 2021[1]). Regional growth has been led by Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, which have also acceded into the European Union. Other countries, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, have seen less consistent development from year to year, but still show positive economic progress.

  • Schools are the fundamental institution of education systems. Access to high-quality schooling can equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in the labour market and engage in a lifetime of learning. Quality schooling also contributes to achieving broader societal goals, such as economic development, civic participation and social cohesion. In the past decade, Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) countries have enacted important policies to improve school practices and outcomes. These efforts include the development of modern school evaluation systems and a strong emphasis on improving the technology and connectivity of schools.

  • In terms of education system-level factors, research suggests that teachers are one of the most important in impacting student outcomes (Hanushek, 2011[1]; Hattie, 2009[2]; Rivkin, Hanushek and Kain, 2005[3]). Many countries around the world have designed policies to prepare teachers and help them develop so they can become influential agents in improving student learning.