14 may. 2014

How much time do students spend in the classroom?

Education Indicators in focus
  • Students in OECD countries are expected to receive a total of 7 751 hours of instruction on average during their primary and lower secondary education – the bulk of that time is compulsory.
  • In general, the higher the level of education, the greater the number of instruction hours a year.
  • Reading, mathematics and science take up around 50% of the compulsory curricular time in primary education but only 40% at the lower secondary level.
  • The wide variation in instruction hours across OECD countries suggests there is little consensus on the most effective policies related to school time.


The number of instruction hours pupils are expected to receive varies significantly between countries but the total time matters less than how the time is spent, on which subjects, and the strength of the curriculum. Reading and mathematics have the largest share at the primary level, while time for science, social studies and modern foreign languages increases in lower secondary school, and technology is given relatively little emphasis at both levels.

The 10 countries with the highest instruction time have a mean PISA score for mathematics, which is 20 score-points below that of the 10 countries with the lowest amount of instruction time.


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