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New UIS data on educational attainment and mean years of schooling

How do the world's countries compare in terms of the population's educational attainment? This question can be answered with new data by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), released in February 2016. The UIS Data Centre lists data for three indicators:

All three indicators are available for the total, male and female population. The first two indicators are presented for the levels of education defined in the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED):

  • Primary education (ISCED 1)
  • Lower secondary education (ISCED 2)
  • Upper secondary education (ISCED 3)
  • Post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED 4)
  • Short-cycle tertiary education (ISCED 5)
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent (ISCED 6)
  • Master's degree or equivalent (ISCED 7)
  • Doctoral degree or equivalent (ISCED 8)

The table on the highest completed level of education in the UIS Data Centre also presents the percentage of the population that has no formal schooling and that has incomplete primary education.

For the first time, the UIS is offering time series with data on educational attainment, covering the years 1995 to 2015. Previously, data on the highest and minimum completed level of education were only available for the most recent year. In total, educational attainment data are available for 147 countries and territories. The number of countries with data for a given year is shown in Figure 1. For example, 74 countries have data for 2010 and one country (Mali) has data for 2015. Portugal has data for 17 years, South Africa has data for 11 years, other countries have data for fewer years. 35 countries have data for only 1 year.

Figure 1: Number of countries with data on educational attainment in UIS Data Centre per year

Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Estimates of mean years of schooling, i.e. the average number of completed years of education, are derived from data on educational attainment and were first released by the UIS in December 2013. The estimates were updated in March 2015 and then again with the most recent release, in February 2016. The UIS Data Centre now presents mean years of schooling for 149 countries and territories for the period 1970 to 2014. Figure 2 shows the number of countries with data on mean years of schooling per year. 53 countries have data for 2010, more than any other year. The countries with the best coverage are South Africa with data on mean years of schooling for 16 years, Spain with data for 13 years, and Mexico with data for 11 years. 45 countries have data for only 1 year.

Figure 2: Number of countries with data on mean years of schooling in UIS Data Centre per year

Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics

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Friedrich Huebler, 6 March 2016, Creative Commons License
Permanent URL: http://huebler.blogspot.com/2016/03/ea.html

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