The percentage of the population aged 25 to 34 without upper secondary education decreased from 70% to 30% between 2000 and 2017.
In 2000, Portugal was the European country with the highest percentage of population aged 25 to 34 without upper secondary education (68%), following Spain, with a difference of over 30 percentage points in relation to the neighbouring country. Between 2000 and 2017, and especially from 2010 to 2016, Portugal's downward trajectory was the sharpest among all European countries. This progress, though, has not yet allowed Portugal to attain the same results as other countries, nor meet the OECD's target of 15%. However, as emphasised by the OECD, Portugal's trajectory was «by far» the most significant achievement among all Member States and associated countries.
Although still some way off the European average (14.4%), it is essential to do a cross-reading of the implemented measures and other education figures to understand which factors have contributed for such a marked decrease in Portugal's rates in less than two decades.
If we compare Portugal with the remaining OECD countries — excluding its 22 EU member countries — the only countries with a higher percentage of young people without secondary education are Mexico and Turkey.
Nevertheless, between 2000 and 2017, Portugal was the country which made the most progress, with a decrease of 25 percentage points in the population without compulsory education.
At the opposite end of the scale is South Korea. In 2000, only 7% of the population had not completed secondary education and, since 2003, the country's rates have remained as low as 2%.