The OECD report Education at a Glance 2020, published today, again ranks Ireland in last place out of 36 countries for investment in second-level education as a percentage of GDP.
In 2017 Ireland invested 1.1% of GDP in second-level education compared to the OECD and EU averages of 1.9%, according to the report.
Overall, Ireland invested 3.4% of GDP in primary, second and third-level education in 2017 compared to the OECD average of 4.9% and EU average of 4.5%.
Commenting on the report, ASTI President Ann Piggott said that the consequences of funding disparities between Ireland and other countries will be exacerbated by Covid-19.
“Under-investment in schools makes them extremely vulnerable to crises. Large classes, insufficient staffing, and inadequate accommodation and equipment are challenging at any time. In the context of a pandemic, these deficits make operational measures such as social distancing and remote learning highly problematic.”
Ms Piggott said a key objective of Budget 2021 must be to tackle the lack of investment in Irish education. “We must give our young people the guarantee of a quality education for all, irrespective of their location, background or range of abilities.”
Levels of education
The report shows that Ireland is one the best performing countries when it comes to enrolment in second-level education; 93% of 15-19 year olds are enrolled in second-level compared to the OECD average of 84%. Participation in further education is also higher in Ireland: 45% of 20-24 year olds are full-time students compared to the OECD average of 41%.
Ireland comes in second place out of 36 OECD countries for performance in reading tests. More than 85% of 15-year-olds in Ireland performed at Level 2 or above in an OECD reading assessment, ahead of countries such as Finland and Canada.
The report states that greater educational attainment translates to increased likelihood of employment, higher earnings for individuals and higher income taxes and social contributions for countries.