Asian nations lead the world in mathematics, reading and science education, according to the latest OECD student survey released Tuesday. Only one European country, Finland, made it into the top five, scoring fifth in science.
Asian nations lead the world in mathematics, reading and science education, according to the triennial student survey released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Shanghai led the rankings with Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea, Macao and Japan also scoring high marks in mathematics, reading and science, the report said.
Students in Shanghai outstripped the competition in mathematics, demonstrating nearly three years of schooling beyond the OECD average.
The Programme in International Student Assessment (PISA) tested the maths, reading and science knowledge of some 510,000 students aged 15 in the OECD’s 34 member nations as well as in 31 other countries, mostly in the developed world.
Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands also made it into the top 10 best-performing education systems while Germany and Poland made significant progress, the survey showed. Germany’s below-average showing in 2000 led to reforms that have returned it to among the best-ranked nations.
Students in Britain scored the exact average in maths, with their counterparts in France scoring slightly better. The United States trailed in maths and were average in reading and science.
The report noted improvements in maths skills in Italy, Poland and Portugal since the last survey but noted declines in both Sweden and Finland.
Only one European country, Finland, made it into the top five in any category, scoring fifth in science.
Using teachers well
In contrast to previous years, the OECD survey found that students in East Asia are now more willing to extrapolate from what they are taught and use their knowledge creatively, instead of simply memorising facts and figures.
“Many Asian systems have been able to overcome the stereotypes of rote learning,” the OECD’s head of education, Andreas Schleicher, told Reuters.
Schleicher said the right allocation of resources had made a big difference in the high-scoring Asian countries, noting that well-qualified teachers are often sent to disadvantaged schools to help raise the standards of schools that are slipping.
“They basically succeed in attracting the most talented teachers to the most challenging classrooms [and] they get really great principals in the tough schools,” he said.
Successful school systems also tend to share resources more equitably between the advantaged and disadvantaged schools, suggesting that high scores stem not just from how much a country spends on education but on how well it distributes funds.
Relative wealth was also a factor in predicting performance, the survey found, with students from wealthier backgrounds roughly a year ahead of their peers in achievement.
Starting school at an early age also had a positive effect, with students who attended pre-primary school scoring about a year ahead of those who did not. The OECD has recommended that governments subsidise pre-primary education to boost performance in poorer areas.
Schleicher emphasised that high rankings in education bode well for a country’s financial future.
“Your education is your economy tomorrow,” he said. “Our economies increasingly depend on the talent, so those countries are positioning themselves very well.”
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)
Date created : 2013-12-03