Nearly 28% of young Spaniards have only primary education

by Lorraine Williamson

In Spain, 28% of young people aged 25-34 have no upper-secondary education diploma. In other words, more than one in four young people have only the ESO (secondary education) diploma.  

This is double the OECD average, which is 14%, and is comparable to Colombia (25%), Italy (23%) or Turkey (36%). The average in European Union countries is 11.8%. 

Nevertheless, the level of education has increased in Spain since 2000, with 49% reaching university or higher level. About 20% of Spanish young people neither study nor work, which is one of the highest percentages within EU countries.  

The number of master’s students has doubled in the last decade and six out of 10 enrolled are women. 

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

These are some of the key findings of the annual report Education at a Glance, presented by the OECD on Monday, which provides a snapshot of education systems. Based mainly on higher education and the impact of the pandemic, this year’s report reflects an improvement – albeit very modest – from the last Spanish statistics. 

Rising trend 

However, the highest level of education has increased significantly over the past two decades.  One of the most striking aspects is the rise in educational attainment that both Spain and the rest of the OECD countries have experienced in recent decades. Between 2000 and 2021, the percentage of Spaniards aged 25-34 with a university or higher education rose by an average of 15% (from 34% to 49%).This also places Spain above the average of the OECD countries (46.9%) and the 22 European Union (EU) countries included in the study (45.9%). 

The progress is clear – although much slower than the average for the rest of the countries (from 27% in 2000 to 48% in 2021) – and makes Spain one of the 24 OECD countries where tertiary education is the most common level of education attained by young people.  

Also read: Spain ranks number 2 when it comes to school dropouts

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