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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Education and training

INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS

One of the outcomes under the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Education Agreement is to ensure that Australian students excel by international standards. In this section, data are sourced from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which has undertaken a major international program to examine the role of education in economic and social development. The OECD membership consists of most of the developed nations with which Australia may be compared.

This section compares Australia with other countries in secondary school completion rates, higher education qualifications and schooling achievement. The first two measures show the success of countries in providing education to their populations, while the last measure shows the quality of the competencies that students gain through education, such as literacy and numeracy.


SENIOR SECONDARY COMPLETION

The proportion of the population who have completed at least senior secondary school (equivalent to Year 12 completion in Australia) is generally much higher in younger than older adults for OECD countries (table 12.34). This indicates a significant increase in school completion rates over the past 30 years. There are a small number of exceptions, such as the United States of America, where high completion levels have been in place for a number of years.

In Australia, people aged 25-34 years had a much higher school completion rate (82%) than did those aged 55-64 years (55%), consistent with the OECD average. The most dramatic differences between the age groups were in Korea, Republic of (South), Italy and Ireland.


12.34 POPULATION WITH AT LEAST SENIOR SECONDARY EDUCATION, By age for selected OECD countries2008
25-34 years
35-44 years
45-54 years
55-64 years
Total 25-64 years
Difference between 25-34 and 55-64 year age groups
%
%
%
%
%
Percentage
points

United States of America
88
89
89
89
89
-1
Canada
92
90
86
80
87
12
Poland
93
91
87
76
87
17
Switzerland
90
88
85
83
87
8
Germany
86
87
86
82
85
4
Korea, Republic of (South)
98
93
68
40
79
57
Netherlands
82
77
71
62
73
20
New Zealand
79
74
71
62
72
17
France
83
77
64
55
70
28
Australia
82
73
66
55
70
27
United Kingdom
77
70
67
63
70
13
Ireland
85
75
62
45
69
40
Italy
69
57
49
35
53
34
OECD average(a)
80
75
68
58
71
22

(a) Of 30 OECD countries.
Source: OECD, Education at a Glance, 2010.


HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATIONS

Younger adults are also more likely to have higher education qualifications than older adults in most OECD countries (table 12.35). This indicates that there has been a substantial increase in higher education in the last three decades. Indeed, given that many older adults have subsequently acquired higher education qualifications, the difference between the age groups may understate change. Care has to be taken in making comparisons between countries because of differences in education systems.

In Australia, the proportion of people with higher education qualifications was above the OECD average in all age groups. The differences between younger and older age groups in levels of higher education qualifications was particularly large in Korea, Poland and Ireland.


12.35 POPULATION WITH HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATION(a), By age for selected OECD countries—2008
25-34 years
35-44 years
45-54 years
55-64 years
Total
25
-64
years
Difference between 25-34 and 55-64 year age groups
%
%
%
%
%
Percentage
points

United States of America
32
33
30
31
32
1
Canada
30
28
21
21
25
9
Poland
32
19
13
12
20
20
Germany
17
17
16
15
16
3
Korea, Republic of (South)
35
32
19
11
26
24
Netherlands
38
30
28
24
30
13
New Zealand
34
26
22
18
25
15
France
24
18
12
12
16
12
Australia
32
27
23
19
26
13
United Kingdom
31
23
20
19
24
12
Ireland
31
23
17
12
22
18
Italy
20
15
12
10
14
10
OECD average(b)
27
22
18
15
21
12

(a) ‘Higher education’ refers to qualifications at Bachelor degree level or above.
(b) Of 31 OECD countries.
Source: OECD, Education at a Glance, 2010.


SCHOOLING ACHIEVEMENT

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a series of tests conducted by the OECD every three years, with the aim of providing a credible, comparable measure of the achievement of 15-year old students in a range of core capabilities. The PISA tests assess reading, mathematics and science. The tests have been conducted in a range of participating OECD countries and non-OECD partner countries/economies.

Table 12.36, shows the ten highest ranked participant countries/economies from the 2009 PISA testing process, as well as the main English-language countries. Australia was one of 10 participants to achieve results above the OECD average for every category of the PISA tests in 2009. Shanghai (China) was the highest ranked participant on all three scales. Korea, Republic of (South), Finland and Hong Kong (SAR of China) were also highly ranked on multiple scales.

12.36 PISA 2009 RESULTS, for selected countries/economies2009
Reading score
Mathematics score
Science
score

TEN HIGHEST RANKED PARTICIPANTS - READING SCORE
Shanghai (China)
556
600
575
Korea, Republic of (South)
539
546
538
Finland
536
541
554
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
533
555
549
Singapore
526
562
542
Canada
524
527
529
New Zealand
521
519
532
Japan
520
529
539
Australia
515
514
527
Netherlands
508
526
522

OTHER ENGLISH LANGUAGE COUNTRIES
United States of America
500
487
502
Ireland
496
487
508
United Kingdom
494
492
514
OECD average(a)
493
496
501

(a) Of participating OECD countries.
Source: OECD, PISA 2009 database.

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.

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