Learning and education

Concepts and definitions
Literacy (paras. 2.145.- 2.149.)
School attendance (paras. 2.150.- 2.152.)
Educational attainment (paras. 2.153.- 2.157.)
Field of education and educational qualifications (paras. 2.158.- 2.164.)

A. Literacy (paras. 2.145.- 2.149.)

A literate person is one who can, with understanding, both read and write a short, simple statement on his or her everyday life. An illiterate person is one who cannot, with understanding, both read and write such a simple statement. Hence, a person capable of reading and writing only figures and his or her own name should be considered illiterate, as should a person who can read but not write as well as one who can read and write only a ritual phrase that has been memorized.

B. School attendance (paras. 2.150.- 2.152.)

School attendance is defined as attendance at any regular accredited educational institution or programme, public or private, for organized learning at any level of education at the time of the census or, if the census is taken during the vacation period at the end of the school year, during the last school year.

For the purposes of 1997 rev of ISCED (UNESCO) and based on the revised definition, education is taken to comprise all deliberate and systematic activities designed to meet learning needs. Instruction in particular skills, which is not part of the recognized educational structure of the country (for example, in-service training courses in factories), is not normally considered "school attendance" for census purposes.

C. Educational attainment (paras. 2.153.- 2.157.)

Educational attainment is defined as the highest grade completed within the most advanced level attended in the educational system of the country where the education was received. If required, data on educational attainment can take into account education and training received in all types of organized educational institutions and programmes, particularly those measurable in terms of grade and level of education or their equivalent such as programmes in adult education, even if the education and training were provided outside of the regular school and university system. For international purposes, a "grade" is a stage of instruction usually covered in the course of a school year.

For international comparison, data from the population census are needed for three levels of education: primary, secondary, and post-secondary. Persons with no schooling should also be identified. The recommended classification of statistics on educational attainment by individual ISCED levels is given below:

ISCED level 0:
Pre-primary education
ISCED level 1:
Primary education
ISCED level 2:
Lower secondary education
ISCED level 3:
(Upper) secondary education
ISCED level 4:
Post-secondary education
ISCED level 5:
First stage of tertiary education (not leading directly to an advanced research qualification)
ISCED level 6:
ISCED level 6: Second stage of tertiary education (leading to an advanced research qualification)

D. Field of education and educational qualifications (paras. 2.158.- 2.164.)

(i) Field of education

The 1997 revision of ISCED distinguishes between the following major fields (one-digit codes) and sub-fields (two- digit codes) of education:


  General programmes
    0 1 Basic programmes
    0 8 Literacy and numeracy
    0 9 Personal development
1 4 Teacher training and education science
  Humanities and arts
    2 1 Arts
    2 2 Humanities
  Social science, business and law
    3 1 Social and behavioural science
    3 2 Journalism and information
    3 4 Business and administration
    4 2 Life sciences
    4 4 Physical sciences
    4 6 Mathematics and statistics
    4 8 Computing
  Engineering, manufacturing and construction
    5 2 Engineering and engineering trades
    5 4 Manufacturing and processing
    5 8 Architecture and building
    6 2 Agriculture, forestry and fishery
    6 4 Veterinary
  Health and welfare
    7 2 Health
    7 6 Social services
    8 1 Personal services
    8 4 Transport services
    8 5 Environmental protection
    8 6 Security services
99 Not known or unspecified

(ii) Educational qualifications

Qualifications are the degrees, diplomas, certificates, professional titles and so forth that an individual has acquired, whether by full-time study, part-time study or private study, whether conferred in the home country or abroad, and whether conferred by educational authorities, special examining bodies or professional bodies. The acquisition of an educational qualification therefore implies the successful completion of a course of study or training programme.

According to national needs, information on qualifications may be collected from persons who have reached a certain minimum age or level of educational attainment. Such information should refer to the title of the highest certificate, diploma or degree received.