Preparing teachers for 21st century challenges

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Preparing today’s students to thrive in their society is no easy task. The skills and knowledge they’ll need to succeed in the future are constantly changing, while others are quickly being digitised, automated or outsourced.

This puts teachers in a difficult position. Not only do we expect them to have a deep and broad understanding of the subjects they teach, and to adequately prepare their students for 21st century challenges; we also expect them to be passionate, compassionate and thoughtful, and to ensure that students feel valued and included in a collaborative learning environment.

Our expectations of teachers are high and rising, yet our education systems are not keeping pace. Most schools look much the same today as they did a generation ago, and teachers themselves are often not developing the practices and skills required to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners.

So what can be done to support teacher…

What can education systems do to support students with immigrant backgrounds?

by Francesca Borgonovi
Senior Analyst

Large-scale migration is starting to radically alter the makeup of today’s classrooms, bringing a new wave of social, cultural and linguistic diversity to schools in destination countries. Results from the latest publication of the Strength through Diversity project, The Resilience of Students with an Immigrant Background: Factors that Shape Well-Being, reveal that in 2015, almost one in four 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported that they were either foreign-born or had at least one foreign-born parent. Indeed, in Luxembourg and Switzerland, more than one out of every two 15-year-old students reported that they were either foreign-born or had at least one parent who was; and between 2003 and 2015, the share of students who had either migrated or had a parent who migrated across international borders grew by an average of six percentage points across OECD countries.

The ability of societies to preserve and promote social cohesion in the …

Why schools should pay more attention to students’ mental health and well-being

by Anna Choi 
Analyst, Economist/Analyst at CFE/LESI (Local employment, skills, and social innovation)

The notion of well-being and happiness has increasingly taken centre stage in our societies over the recent years. As Nobel Prize Economist Daniel Kahneman puts it, "there is a huge wave of interest in happiness among researchers. There is a lot of happiness coaching. Everybody would like to make people happier."

In addition to physical health, it has become clear that emotional health is vital for our overall well-being. Children who are in a good state of emotional well-being have higher odds of growing into adults who are happy, confident, and enjoy healthy lifestyles, consequently contributing towards a better society and improving the overall well-being of the population.

Perhaps this emphasis on well-being may reflect the increasing prevalence of emotional ill-being and mental health problems. Across OECD countries, almost one in four adults report experiencing more …

How Japan’s Kosen schools are creating a new generation of innovators

By Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills

Innovation and problem solving depend increasingly on the ability to synthesise disparate elements to create something different and unexpected. This involves curiosity, open-mindedness and making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated. It also requires knowledge across a broad range of fields. If we spend our entire lives in the silo of a single discipline, we will not gain the imaginative skills necessary to connect the dots and develop the next life-changing invention.

For schools, then, the challenge is to remain true to disciplines while encouraging interdisciplinary learning and building students’capacity to see problems through multiple lenses. Some countries have been trying to develop cross-curricular capabilities. Japan’s network of Kosen schools is a unique example.

Its president, Isao Taniguchi, showed me around the Tokyo campus last week, and it was one of my most inspiring school visi…

Why access to quality early childhood education and care is a key driver of women’s labour market participation

  by Eric Charbonnier, Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

We are in 1961. JF Kennedy is president and has just designated Eleanor Roosevelt as chairwoman of the new US Commission on the Status of Women: "We want to be sure that women are used as effectively as they can to provide a better life for our people, in addition to meeting their primary responsibility, which is in the home." Fifty-seven years ago, women had to make a choice between pursuing a career or having children. Back then, access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services was reserved for the elite and was not considered a policy priority; maternity leave was rare, while paternity leave was unheard of. This may seem strange now, but just try to think of society in the 1960s. Just think how far we have come since then: In 1961, only 38 % of women were employed in the United States. In 2015, this figure was at 70%.

Don’t be fooled by the upbeat statistics though. Two generations later, ine…

Is physical health linked to better learning?

by Tracey Burns
Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Mahatma Gandhi once said: "it is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver". And indeed, our physical well-being is key to how we live our lives. But while we don't always make the link between our minds and our bodies, physical health is important for learning, too. 
Children who exercise regularly, have good nutrition and sleep well are more likely to attend school, and do well at school. And the benefits are not just for children: good physical health is associated with enhanced quality of life, increased productivity in the workplace and increased participation in the community and society. 
However, children and young people across the OECD are not engaging enough in the behaviours they need to be healthy. Between 2000 to 2016, PISA data show that children and young people were less likely to reach the minimum recommended daily physical activity levels (>60 minutes of moderate …

The importance of learning from data on education, migration and displacement

by Manos Antoninis, Director, Global Education Monitoring Report
Francesca Borgonovi, Senior Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

Migration and displacement are complex phenomena which play an important role in – but can also pose challenges to – development. These phenomena also pose particularly important challenges for education and training systems. Firstly, they can rapidly increase the number of people that require education services, thus challenging both richer countries, which until now had been adjusting to shrinking student populations, and poorer countries, where provision is already stretched, especially in remote areas or slums where migrants and refugees often converge.

Secondly, migration and displacement make classrooms more diverse. This means that the range of strategies teachers need to deploy increases in order to cater for a student population with larger differences in background characteristics, such as the language they speak at home.

Thirdly, educatio…