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Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective

This report, Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective, 2009, is the first in a new series intended to facilitate the comparison of educational systems in Canada's provinces and territories with those of countries that belong to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It presents a series of indicators that have been harmonized with the definitions and methodologies used by the OECD. The key issues of finance, educational attainment, graduation, and transitions are covered in these new harmonized indicators. Over time, other indicators may be added, as data permit.

Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective is a product of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (PCEIP).

The Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program

PCEIP is an ongoing initiative of the Canadian Education Statistics Council: a partnership between Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

In the Victoria Declaration of 1993, the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for education and training agreed to create PCEIP. PCEIP's mission is to publish a set of statistical measures on education systems in Canada for policy makers, practitioners and the general public to monitor the performance of education systems across jurisdictions and over time.

The first indicators published under the PCEIP banner appeared in 1996. In 1999, the first PCEIP report, based on a new set of indicators, was published, followed by reports in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Beginning in 2009, the traditional PCEIP publication evolved into a new line of PCEIP products, which includes regular updates of tables and charts, the production of fact sheets, and now this newly introduced report linked with the release of the OECD's Education at a Glance. While this report covers a number of indicators for which harmonized data are available for the Education at a Glance indicators, the PCEIP tables as a whole have been developed to inform a broad range of pan-Canadian education policy issues, across the spectrum of lifelong learning.

More information about PCEIP, including the tables, fact sheets, and previous reports, is available on the Statistics Canada Web site at

Harmonized indicators

The OECD's Indicators of Educational Systems (INES) programme includes a set of indicators that allow comparisons of the education systems of its member countries. Results are published annually in Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators. Canada has participated in this project since its inception in 1988.

This new product, Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective,was developed to broaden the Canadian picture by providing comparable statistics for Canada's provincial/territorial systems of education along with the established international comparisons between Canada and other OECD member countries. The indicators were selected based on the availability of the necessary data for provinces and territories. The harmonized indicators presented in this 2009 edition align with selected indicators from the OECD's 2009 release of Education at a Glance.  They present information on educational attainment, upper secondary graduation, tertiary graduation, the academic performance of students, labour market outcomes, the economic benefits of education, expenditures on education, international students, and transitions to the labour market.

Although indicators show trends and uncover interesting questions, they cannot by themselves provide explanations or permit conclusions to be drawn. Additional research will always be required to understand the issues and problems and to suggest solutions.

More information on the OECD's Education at a Glance 2009 is available at

In this edition

This first edition of Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective presents three sets of harmonized indicators.

Chapter A, The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning, profiles educational attainment among the adult population.  It also presents information on graduation rates at the upper secondary and tertiary levels. A specific aspect of student achievement and assessment—excellence—is examined. Relationships between educational attainment and labour force status are also explored. The section concludes by looking at the economic benefits of education; specifically, relative earnings of workers by educational attainment.

Chapter B, Financial and human resources invested in education, focuses on expenditure on education. Information on education expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is presented, which reflects spending on education relative to a country's (or province's or territory's) overall amount of resources.  Then the proportions of current and capital expenditures are outlined.

Chapter C,  Access to education, participation and progression, explores the extent of international student mobility, as well as aspects of transitions from education to the labour force.