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NZ ranked highly in OECD for education


Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Education Minister Hekia Parata have today welcomed a report which shows the performance of New Zealand’s education sector, at all levels, compares well with those of other developed countries.

The OECD Report, Education at a Glance 2016, measures 35 countries on the output of educational institutions, the impact of learning, financial and human resources invested in education, and participation.

“New Zealand is seeing more of our adults with higher qualifications relative to the rest of the world. The proportion of adults aged 25-64 with a level 4 or higher qualification is in the OECD’s top six.  Our completion rates for tertiary study are also comparatively high,” says Mr Joyce.

“These results are great news for our economy and society. We need people with world class skills and knowledge that will boost the productivity of the New Zealand economy. A better educated and skilled workforce is essential.”

“It’s great to see 68 per cent of adults aged 25-64 participated in either formal or non-formal education. Participation in non-formal education is particularly high with 64 per cent of adults taking part, compared with the OECD average of 46 per cent. The high participation rates extend to vocational programmes and part-time study,” Mr Joyce says.

“Our workforce continues to become more qualified and New Zealanders are becoming better educated than ever before.

“The Government spends over $4 billion, or 1.7 per cent of gross domestic product, on tertiary education.  This report shows our careful management of the tertiary system is helping a higher proportion of young people to achieve qualifications at higher levels and gain the skills they need to succeed in the job market.”

Education Minister Hekia Parata says other areas of education are also performing strongly. 

“No other OECD country spends a higher percentage of its public funding on education as New Zealand.

“Public expenditure in early childhood education (ECE) is in the top third and the teacher-child ratios in ECE are amongst the lowest in the OECD.

“Our Government has a strong record of increasing investment in education which now stands at a record $11 billion. Funding for our youngest learners has more than doubled since 2008 to $1.797 billion.

“Our funding in ECE is paying off with the participation of children three years and under in the top third of OECD countries.”

The figures for participation in this year’s report are from the Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Information database. This means that children are no longer being double counted when they attend more than one ECE provider.

In secondary schooling more 15-19 year olds have been staying in education past NCEA Level 1.

“Over the past decade, this growth has been ahead of the OECD average, demonstrating that the work we’ve been doing to encourage students to stay in school longer is having an impact,” says Ms Parata.

Education at a Glance 2016 is available at


Early Childhood Education (ECE)

  • New Zealand is in the top six in the OECD for investment per child in ECE
  • Across 23 OECD countries, New Zealand has the lowest teacher-child ratio
  • New Zealand was one of just four countries where the majority of 5-year-olds are in school, rather than ECE
  • New Zealand continues to perform well in Early Childhood Education. We remain in the top third for participation at age three and under


  • Over the past decade, more 15-19 year-olds having been staying in education past NCEA level 1, this growth has been ahead of the OECD average
  • Employment rates for 15-19 year-olds remain high, in the top seven of the OECD
  • 81% of NZ adults aged 25-34 have an upper secondary qualification
  • Public investment in schools is in the top five of the OECD
  • Teacher salaries as a proportion of GDP per capita are above the OECD average
  • An improving economy has seen more people go straight into employment from school, rather than tertiary education


  • Tertiary participation in New Zealand is higher than the OECD average
  • New Zealand has the second highest degree completion rates amongst full-time students
  • New Zealand’s share of adults with science or computing qualifications is the seventh highest
  • The share of adults aged 25-64 with Level 4 or higher qualifications is in the top 6 of the OECD
  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of adult learning, 68% of adults aged 25-64participated in either formal or non-formal education in 2014
  • New Zealand has the highest rates of adult learning amongst least skilled and least educated

Steven Joyce Setember 2016 2012