Brussels, 14 September 2012
Report highlights major geographic disparities in education
Where you live in Europe can strongly influence your education and prospects in life, according to a new European Commission report. The report, entitled 'Mind the Gap - education inequality across EU regions', highlights significant disparities in education opportunities and results across - and within - Member States. There appears to be a North-South divide in educational attainment, with the highest rates of low-qualified people, with lower secondary education or less, chiefly found in southern European regions and especially in Portugal and Spain. In contrast, the regions with the lowest rates of low-qualified people are mostly found in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. Geographic inequalities in education persist despite commitments by Member States to promote equity in education and training. The report – the first of its kind – calls on EU countries to work harder to reduce these inequalities.
"All European citizens should benefit from high quality education and training - irrespective of where they live. It is time to deliver on the commitments which have been made. Tackling geographic inequality in education is a pre-requisite for balanced regional development and social cohesion. The European Structural Funds can and should be used to help address inequalities," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
The report shows that the regions with the highest proportion of individuals with tertiary education qualifications (with a bachelor or master's degree or equivalent) are mostly found in the UK, the Netherlands, northern Spain and Cyprus. The regions with the lowest rates of tertiary education graduates are in Italy, Portugal, Romania and the Czech Republic. The report also highlights significant regional disparities in terms of adult participation in lifelong learning.
In November the Commission will adopt its strategy on "Rethinking Skills" which will underline the need to address geographic disparities in education. In 2013, the Commission will present further evidence and policy advice to Member States on how to improve equity in education and training. A second report on the geography of educational inequality in the EU will be published in 2013.
Regional disparities within Member States
The 'Mind the Gap - education inequality across EU regions' report was compiled for the European Commission by the network of experts in social sciences of education and training (NESSE). The team of authors is led by Dr Dimitris Ballas of Sheffield University, UK.
The report draws on Eurostat data and contains over 100 maps which visualise regional disparities. It identifies the top 10 and bottom 10 EU regions for each of the indicators it examines. Other key findings from the report are:
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
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Figure 1: People with low educational qualifications (with at most pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education as % of the population aged over 15)
Regions with highest share of people with at most pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education (levels 0-2, ISCED 1997) as % of the population over 15 years old
Regions with lowest share of people with at most pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education (levels 0-2, ISCED 1997) as % of all population over 15 years old
The region of Alentejo in Portugal has the highest rates of low-qualified people. Praha in the Czech Republic is the EU region with the lowest rates of low-qualified people.
The International Standard Classification of Education (I S C E D 1997) covers the following levels: level 0 - pre-primary education; level 1 - primary education or first stage of basic education; level 2 - lower secondary or second stage of basic education; level 3 - (upper) secondary education; level 4 - post-secondary non-tertiary education; level 5 - first stage of tertiary education; level 6 - second stage of tertiary education.
Figure2. Lifelong learning - participation of adults aged 25-64 in
education and training (as % of total population)
Regions with highest participation of adults aged 25-64 in education and training (as % of total population)
Regions with lowest participation of adults aged 25-64 in education and training (as % of total population)
The region of Hovedstaden in Denmark has the highest rate of adults in lifelong learning. Severozapaden in Bulgaria has the lowest.
Regions with highest share of people with a tertiary education qualification (levels 5-6, ISCED 1997) as % of all persons aged 15+
Regions with lowest share of people with a tertiary education qualification (levels 5-6, ISCED 1997) as % of all persons aged 15+
The region with the highest rate is Inner London in the UK; the lowest rate of tertiary education graduates is found in Severozápad in the Czech Republic.