Cyprus Mail

High-level of tertiary education but low levels of basic skills

Cyprus maintains a very high level of tertiary educational attainment but persists in having relatively low levels of basic skills, a report just published reveals.

By age 30 to 34, some 49.9 per cent of Cypriots have attained tertiary education, well above the EU average of 38.7 per cent in 2015 and also above the objective for 2020 which is 40 per cent.

Though there are no figures available for last year, 2012 numbers for underachievement paint a bleaker picture and strongly suggest a need for improvement. The proportion of 15-year-olds in Cyprus who score are 32.8 per cent in reading, 38 per cent in science and 42 per cent in maths, well above the EU averages of 17.8, 16.6 and 22.1 per cent respectively and the target for 2020 of 15 per cent. This is despite socioeconomic inclusiveness is high, normally a factor which reduces underachievement.

The European Commission’s Education and Training Monitor 2016 presented on Tuesday in Nicosia shows how Europe’s education and training systems are evolving and measures Europe’s progress on the 2020 targets which were set as part of an EU growth and jobs strategy.

By analysing the main challenges, it presents policy measures that can make the systems more responsive to societal and labour market needs.

The reports key indicators are money spent on education, the percentage of early leavers from education and training, tertiary education attainment, formal early childhood education, the proportion of students who are underachievers in maths, science and reading, employment of recent graduates and adult participation in learning.

About two-thirds of member states recorded a rise in spending for public expenditure in education. In six countries, this increase was greater than five per cent. By contrast, ten member states reduced their spending in 2014 compared to 2013. In Cyprus, the decrease from 2013 to 2014 was 10.8 per cent in real terms. As a share of all public expenditure the figure went down from 15.7 to 11.8 per cent.

On average, in EU countries the percentage of early school leavers – age 18 to 24 – is 11 per cent, and Cyprus is well below this with 5.3 per cent. However, there is room for improvement for foreign born early leavers. In contrast of just 3.7 per cent of natives leaving school at this age, 16.7 per cent of foreign born young people do.

As regards the employment of recent graduates, the percentage of employment is roughly the same as in other EU countries.

Adult participation in lifelong learning is an area where Cyprus needs to improve, according to the report.  The EU average of people aged 25 to 64 involved is 10.7 per cent and just 7.5 per cent in Cyprus. With an EU target of 15 per cent, most countries have room for improvement until 2020.

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