Asia sweeps top spots in global education survey

December 04, 2013 - 6:57:17 am
PARIS: Asian nations cemented their top positions in an eagerly awaited report on global education yesterday, as their students continued to outshine Western counterparts in maths, science and reading.

Shanghai again ranked first in maths, science and reading in the three-yearly report by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based on surveys of more than half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea rounded out the top five in maths skills. The so-called PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) is the single largest study of global schooling and has been dubbed the World Cup of education.

It is highly influential among education officials, with participating countries representing more than 80 percent of the global economy and often adapting policy in response to the findings.

Shanghai’s top rankings means its students are the equivalent of three years of schooling ahead of their counterparts with average scores, including those of many wealthy Western countries such as Britain and France.

This year’s survey focused on math skills, with Macau, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands rounding out the top 10. OECD experts said the top scores of Asian nations were down to a strong culture of education and to teacher training.

The report highlighted Italy, Poland and Portugal for showing improvements in maths skills since the last survey, but noted drops in Sweden and Finland.

Students in Britain scored the exact average of OECD nations in maths, with their counterparts in France only slightly ahead. The United States was further down, wedged between Slovakia and Lithuania. Peru ranked at the bottom of the list in all three categories. Finland, made it into the top five in any category, scoring as the fifth top performer in science.

Australia, Canada, Estonia and Finland were noted for having high levels of “equity in education”, where students can succeed regardless of their socio-economic background.

The happiest students were in Indonesia, Albania and Peru .The first PISA survey was carried out in 2000, with 30 nations taking part. Shanghai joined in 2009.

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