Education Indicators

Education is a crucial aspect for sustainable development. Better education increases the awareness of environmental challenges, but also the ability to provide better living conditions by finding better jobs. In addition, education is essential for furthering technical development, which may help to meet many of the challenges for sustainable development.

Adult Secondary/Tertiary Schooling Attainment Level

Indicator definition: Adult secondary (tertiary) schooling attainment level: proportion of the population of working age with completed secondary (tertiary) education (UNESCO 2015).

Goal: Increase the percentage of the population with completed education. Quantification of the goal depends on status quo in the countries; generally the goal is to reduce the percentage of adults without secondary schooling attainment as far as possible. In addition, the schooling attainment level of women is often made a priority to increase intragenerational justice.

Policy Relevance: Human resources are key factors for the development of a nation, as well in economic terms as in social and, ultimately, also ecological aspects. Studies show that education is highly correlated to employment (OECD 2011), and some evidence suggests that higher education levels lead to an improved awareness about environmental and social concerns. The indicator is linked to other education indicators, but over education’s impact on employment, labor productivity, innovation, etc., also to economic indicators.

Limitations of the indicator: Data on schooling attainment is often criticized for a possible lack of reliability, because data collection is often based on self-declaration. In addition, data sometimes combines studying at a given level and the completion of the level, thus reducing the comparability.

Methodology: Various methods for the estimation of educational attainment where data is not fully available have been developed[1]. The methodology is internationally recommended by the UNESCO and therefore broadly acknowledged.

Data source and availability: Data is based on national censuses. This leads to large time lags between data collections, because in many countries, censuses are only conducted every ten years.

Quality of the data: Seasonal adjustments are not necessary, the level of aggregation is very low. Data should include statistics about gender and age-group to offer reliable information.

  • [1] C.f. Barro, Lee 1993, 1996; Lau et al. 1991; Nehru et al. 1995; Psacharopoulos, Arria-gada 1986
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