Equidad y calidad en la educación

Reducing school failure pays off for both society and individuals. It can also contribute to economic growth and social development. Indeed the highest performing education systems across OECD countries are those that combine quality with equity. Equity in education means that personal or social circumstances such as gender, ethnic origin or family background, are not obstacles to achieving educational potential (fairness) and that that all individuals reach at least a basic minimum level of skills (inclusion). In these education systems, the vast majority of students have the opportunity to attain high level skills, regardless of their own personal and socio-economic circumstances.

 OECD countries face the problem of school failure and dropout

Across OECD countries, almost one of every five students does not reach a basic minimum level of skills to function in today’s societies (indicating lack of inclusion). Students from low socio-economic background are twice as likely to be low performers, implying that personal or social circumstances are obstacles to achieving their educational potential (indicating lack of fairness). Lack of inclusion and fairness fuels school failure, of which dropout is the most visible manifestation – with 20% of young adults on average dropping out before finalising upper secondary education.

 Improving equity and reducing school failure pays off

The economic and social costs of school failure and dropout are high, whereas successful secondary education completion gives individuals better employment and healthier lifestyle prospects resulting in greater contributions to public budgets and investment. More educated people contribute to more democratic societies and sustainable economies, and are less dependent on public aid and less vulnerable to economic downturns. Societies with skilled individuals are best prepared to respond to the current and future potential crises. Therefore, investing in early, primary and secondary education for all, and in particular for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, is both fair and economically efficient.

Policies require investing in students early and through upper secondary education

In the path to economic recovery, education has become a central element of OECD countries’ growth strategies. To be effective in the long run, improvements in education need to enable all students to have access to quality education early, to stay in the system until at least the end of upper secondary education, and to obtain the skills and knowledge they will need for effective social and labour market integration.

One of the most efficient educational strategies for governments is to invest early and all the way up to upper secondary. Governments can prevent school failure and reduce dropout using two parallel approaches: eliminating system level practices that hinder equity; and targeting low performing disadvantaged schools. But education policies need to be aligned with other government policies, such as housing or welfare, to ensure student success.

 Avoid system level policies conducive to school and student failure

The way education systems are designed can exacerbate initial inequities and have a negative impact on student motivation and engagement, eventually leading to dropout. Eliminating system level obstacles to equity will improve equity and benefit disadvantaged students, without hindering other students’ progress.

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