Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain

Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann. OECD, 2015.

Abstract: While access to schooling has expanded around the world, many countries have not realised the hoped-for improvements in economic and social well-being. Access to education by itself is an incomplete goal for development; many students leave the education system without basic proficiency in literacy and numeracy. As the world coalesces around new sustainable development targets towards 2030, the focus in education is shifting towards access and quality. Using projections based on data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other international student assessments, this report offers a glimpse of the stunning economic and social benefits that all countries, regardless of their national wealth, stand to gain if they ensure that every child not only has access to education but, through that education, acquires at least the baseline level of skills needed to participate fully in society. —

Except on Vietnam’s 12th ranking in 2012 PISA test (p. 43): The concern about low enrolment and its effect on knowledge capital is probably best illustrated by Viet Nam. On the 2012 PISA test, Viet Nam ranked 12th; moreover, less than 12% of tested Vietnamese students fell below the basic skills level of 420 points. Yet only 64% of Viet Nam’s 15-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2012. Its enrolment rate is 74th among the 76 countries; only Botswana and Ghana have lower rates. Given its highly selected school population, it is impossible to conclude that Viet Nam is approaching the goal of basic skills for all.

Admittedly, Viet Nam is an exception. Most countries near the bottom on enrolment also tend to have low achievement. Ghana, for example, has the lowest achievement among young people in school of all 76 countries, while Botswana is 70th in the achievement rankings. In fact, the correlation between the average score and the enrolment rate in the 76-country sample is 0.659. Enrolment rates and achievement levels appear to be strongly and positively related, in general (Hanushek and Woessmann, 2011).

Free full text http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/universal-basic-skills_9789264234833-en.

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