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Comparing Canadian education to other countries

Canadian schools compare favourably in some ways, not so much in others. File / Global News

Canada spends more than many countries on primary school students, but isn’t doing a great job of keeping post-secondary graduates employed, according to new data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The annual Education at a Glance report from the OECD shows how Canada stacks up against other member countries in terms of education.

Here’s how we did:

1. Canada spends more than average on primary school students

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According to the OECD, Canada spends about $9,130 US annually per primary school student. That puts us just out of the top 10, behind Belgium, but ahead of Japan. It includes all kinds of spending, from teacher salaries to classroom expenses.

2. An average amount of Canadian public spending is spent on education

Canadian public expenditure on education, from primary to post-secondary, is about 2.3 per cent of total public spending – right on the OECD average.

3. More Canadians have some kind of post-secondary education than anywhere else

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There’s one big caveat here though: the OECD counts Quebec’s CEGEP programs as tertiary education, which likely skews the numbers in Canada’s favour. Canada is much closer to the average when it comes to the percentage of people with bachelor degrees: 20 per cent, a little above the OECD average of 16 per cent.

4. A below-average percentage of educated Canadian adults have a job

Among Canadian adults with a post-secondary education (which remember, includes CEGEP) about 82 per cent are employed. That’s a little below the 84 per cent OECD average.

Even when looking at different kinds of degrees, Canada tends to be right around the average. And it doesn’t make much of a difference how much education Canadians have: 83 per cent of Canadians with a master’s degree are employed, the same proportion as people with a bachelor’s. Numbers for doctorate degrees aren’t in the report.

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5. Nowhere in the world are educated women paid more than educated men


Not a single country in the OECD index reports women earning as much or more than a man with an equivalent education. On average, women with a post-secondary education earn about 73 per cent of what equivalently-educated men do in the OECD. In Canada, it’s 72 per cent.

READ MORE: Canadian wage gap narrows with education

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