A. Jakaitiene, A. S. Camanho, F. Barbosa, D. Stumbriene
7th International Workshop on Efficiency in Education, Health and other Public Services, 2019 m. rugsėjo 5-6 d., Barselona, Ispanija.
Abstract. Education performance can be analysed as the degree to which an education system achieves the desired goals and effects. The evaluation of performance of education systems has become a priority in education policy agendas internationally. The European Commission has The Education and Training Monitor (‘ET 2020’) initiative for monitoring and fostering performance of education systems in EU. Seven key indicators were selected and benchmarks were set to be reached by 20201 . This strategic framework aims to promote the exchange of the best practices among Member States.
This paper evaluates the evolution of European countries performance in terms of the common European Union objectives for the education sector. A circular Malmquist index, specified with a non-convex metafrontier, is used to obtain a summary measure of the evolution of performance in the period 2006-2015. This index represent an enhancement in relation to the circular index of Pastor and Lovell (2005), that allows convexification between observations from different years. The Malmquist index is also estimated for triennial periods, to understand the trends in more detail. Following the decomposition proposed by Fare et al (1989), we also analyse the root sources of productivity change, i.e., efficiency change and frontier shift for each triennial period.
In the analysis we use 6 out of 7 key ET2020 indicators, as the learning mobility indicator still waits for appropriate compilation of cross-national data (Flisi et al., 2014). Namely, we analyse the following variables (ET2020 benchmark values in parenthesis):
- Early leavers from education and training2 (below 10%);
- Tertiary educational attainment3 (share of 30-34 olds at least 40%);
- Early childhood education and care4 (at least 95%);
- Employment rate of recent graduates5 (not less than 82%);
- Adult participation in lifelong learning6 (an average of at least 15% of adults);
- Low achievers in reading, maths and science7 (share of 15-years old below 15%).
The European Commission applies this framework to monitor the performance of 28 European Union countries (EU-28). We only use 26 out of 28 countries, as a large part of data is missing for Cyprus and Malta. In addition, we included three European countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) that are not in European Union. All variables were collected from EUROSTAT and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) databases for 29 European countries for years 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015. Missing data were replaced with data from the most recent year available. For the calculation of the Malmquist index, the indicators “Early leavers from education and training” and “Low achievers in reading, maths and science” were adjusted by subtracting the country values from 100%, such that higher values of all indicators analysed correspond to better performance.
We observe different patterns for the variables when analysing achievements of European countries in comparison with the benchmark ET2020 values. For three variables, – early leavers from education and training, tertiary educational attainment and early childhood education and care –, we detect a convergence tendency towards the benchmark values. This means that country‘s average values approach the target over time with smaller variance. We also observe that the share of countries that are at or above the benchmark value is increasing over time.
Adult participation in lifelong learning shows a favourable evolution (the average participation rate increased from 10.9% in 2006 up to 12.6% in 2015). However, this is mostly due to performance improvements in northern European countries, which have longer traditions in lifelong learning.
The share of low achievers in basic skills remains almost stable over the period analysed, indicating a large scope for improvement and convergence towards EU best practices. In 2006, the employment rate of recent graduates was very close to the ET2020 benchmark (81.5%), but it declined in more recent years, reaching 77.3% in 2015. Presumably, this was caused by the economic crisis and mainly owing to the unfavourable situation in Greece, Italy, Spain and Croatia.
When analysing all variables together, we conclude that Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania are the countries with the largest scope for improvement. In these countries, none of the variables comprising the ET2020 strategy reached the target value during the period 2006-2015. In summary, we observe convergence of European countries with respect to early childhood education and care, early leavers from education and training, and tertiary educational attainment. For the latter two variables, in 2015 the average values were already above the ET2020 target. With respect to the other variables, there is considerable scope for improvement in most European countries.
Concerning the overall trends in the evolution of performance over time, the results of the Malmquist index reveal an improvement trend for the most countries in the period 2006-2015. We can see that productivity improvements are due to a combined effect of gains in productivity at the frontier and relative efficiency improvements (i.e., countries are moving closer to the European best practice frontier, meaning that “education and training” achievements are becoming more homogeneous in the EU space).
The largest values in the magnitude of performance improvements are observed for Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Latvia and Germany. These countries also occupied the last positions of the efficiency ranking in the first year analysed (2006). Given their low starting point, this means that they succeed in the effort of convergence towards the best practices observed in the peer European countries. The most notable exception in terms of convergence among the European countries is Romania, which occupied the penultimate position in the performance rank in 2006, just after Bulgaria, and did not manage to improve performance in the decade analysed. Consequently, the last positive in the relative performance ranking in 2015 corresponds to Romania.
Italy is the country with the steepest decline in performance over the period analysed. Italy was located on the frontier of the production possibility set in 2006, showing evidence of best observed performance in terms of education and training among European countries. However, in 2015, it was among the inefficient countries, with only Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania lagging behind.
As a means of monitoring progress and identifying challenges, as well as contributing to evidence-based policy making, a series of reference levels of European average performance were analysed for the period 2006-2015. It should be acknowledged that the ET2020 benchmarks should not be considered as specific national targets for 2020. Member States were invited to consider, in line with national priorities and taking into account changing economic circumstances, how and to what extent they can contribute to the achievement of the European benchmarks in their national actions. The fact that our analysis has shown that the educational situation is improving in almost all European countries and that the homogeneity of education systems is being monitored shows that countries have taken right policy actions in developing education systems. Given that we analysed the data up to year 2015, one can foresee that European benchmarks will be fitted even better by year 2020.
- Färe, R., Grosskopf, S., Lindgren, B., & Roos, P. (1994). Productivity developments in Swedish hospitals: a Malmquist output index approach. In Data envelopment analysis: Theory, methodology, and applications (pp. 253-272). Springer, Dordrecht.
- Flisi, S., Goglio, V., & Meroni, E. (2014). Monitoring the Evolution of Education and Training Systems: A Guide to the Joint Assessment Framework. Joint Research Center. Publications Office of the European Union.
- Pastor, J. T., & Lovell, C. K. (2005). A global Malmquist productivity index. Economics Letters, 88(2), 266-271.