Educational Opportunity for All

Overcoming Inequality throughout the Life Course

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Equitable educational opportunities can help to promote long-lasting, inclusive economic growth and social cohesion. Successful education and skills policies can empower individuals to reach their full potential and enjoy the fruits of their labour, regardless of their circumstances at birth. However, as this report shows, far too many children, students and adults from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds fall behind. In many countries, substantial learning gaps exist between students at opposite ends of the socio-economic scale, and these differences tend to increase in the transition into adulthood.

All countries have ample room for improvement to ensure better learning outcomes for all. Early childhood education has been identified as an important element in future success, and requires investment, as do family and community-based support and programmes for children from families that have not attained a high level of education and skills. In the schools, targeted support is necessary for low performers from disadvantaged backgrounds and for poorly performing schools. As for the adult population, learning should be focused on improving employability, through a combination of education and practical job training. Barriers to participation in learning need to be removed, and delivery methods need to be more innovative and flexible. Targeted support is needed for the most vulnerable members of society.



Executive summary

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

In a globalised, knowledge-intensive economy where technological change is continually reshaping the labour market, individuals with low levels of educational attainment and skills are increasingly penalised. Gaps in the labour market outcomes between highly and poorly educated workers have been widening in the past three decades across OECD countries. Education and training play a significant role in helping individuals to climb the socioeconomic ladder and to reach their full potential. Education and labour market policies and practices that support the most vulnerable groups can bolster inclusive economic growth and increase social cohesion. A country’s prosperity depends on how well it equips individuals of all backgrounds with the skills to obtain decent jobs, to become more productive and innovative, and potentially, to create jobs, as well as to make smarter political, economic and life choices.


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