The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) was established in the 1970s, with updates in 1997 and 2011, to categorize information on education systems in a way that facilitates cross-national comparability of education statistics. As the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) collects and produces data to monitor progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) for education, ISCED has an important role.

To help countries monitor and report on SDG 4, the UIS has produced Using ISCED Diagrams to Compare Education Systems, which presents the education systems of 133 countries in visual format. The report guides readers through ISCED by offering definitions for each ISCED level, an explanation of how the diagrams were created, along with ISCED’s governance structure, and challenges and recommendations. This is followed by a global analysis of ISCED which considers how education systems compare in the context of the Agenda 2030. More detailed analyses of the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa examine key features of education systems in each region.

The accompanying online visualization tool presents ISCED diagrams in a modern and simple multilingual design and can be used by mobile, tablet and desktop users. Additional resources on the dedicated website include information about ISCED, previous reports, and the mapping of each Member State’s education systems in Excel, which form the basis of the visual diagrams.

The diagrams are also available on the PEER website hosted by the GEM Report. ISCED diagrams for the OECD and European Union countries are available on their websites.

It is our hope that this report and online tools will give government policymakers, national statistical offices, international organizations and academia an understanding of ISCED and its importance in monitoring and reporting on SDG 4. 


UNESCO Institute for Statistics ISCED website

Global Education Monitoring Report PEER website

OECD ISCED diagrams

European Union ISCED diagrams