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Education Indicators in Focus

Education Indicators in Focus is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners. They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

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How Much Time Do Primary and Lower Secondary Students Spend in the Classroom?

  • Students in OECD countries are expected to receive a total of 7 751 hours of instruction on average during their primary and lower secondary education – the bulk of that time is compulsory.
  • In general, the higher the level of education, the greater the number of instruction hours a year.
  • Reading, mathematics and science take up around 50% of the compulsory curricular time in primary education but only 40% at the lower secondary level.
  • The wide variation in instruction hours across OECD countries suggests there is little consensus on the most effective policies related to school time.

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