Dec. 9 (EIRNS)—The 2018 report on education of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has been released, and China is at the top—again and again. The PISA is a worldwide survey of education, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which assesses 39 million 15-year-old students in 79 countries, every three years since 2000. Not only is China at the top in all three categories tested—reading, mathematics and science—but in science China is so far ahead as to see no one behind them. PISA puts this all together in a 64-page report with charts and numbers; the full report fills three volumes, with three more yet to be released.
Probably the most notable issue here is that there is a direct relation between economic income and education level. Quoting the report: “In many countries, the quality of the education a student acquires can still best be predicted by the student’s or his or her school’s socio-economic background.” In reading scores, for example, the difference between the highest and lowest income brackets amounted to “the equivalent of over three years of schooling.” Fully 10 million students in these 79 countries “were not able to complete even the most basic reading tasks,” primarily because of the low level of education in poor countries. Here, China’s having lifting at least 800 million of its citizens out of poverty, by itself, allowed the country to improve education levels. The two countries at the bottom of all three rankings of the study were the Philippines and the Dominican Republic.
As to direct comparison between China and the world, the report says, “students in four provinces/municipalities of China—Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang—outperformed their peers in all of the other 78 participating education systems—in mathematics and science by a wide margin, and in reading, only Singapore came close…. What makes their achievement even more remarkable is that the level of income of these four Chinese regions is well below the OECD [European] average.” In comparisons over the 18 years of six PISA reports, only three countries—Jordan, China (Macao) and Russia—showed continuously increasing scores (in reading). The United States was among a dozen countries whose reading scores had flatlined—no improvement since 2000.
In the “honorable mention” category, PISA observes that Albania, the Moldova, Peru and Qatar, while still below statistical “average,” saw remarkable improvement in the last three years. Turkey is also noted for having increased national enrollment percentages between 2003 and 2018 “from 36% to 73% during that period.” Five other countries—Albania, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Uruguay—also significantly increased enrollment “and maintained or improved their mean reading, mathematics and science performance. This shows that the quality of education does not have to be sacrificed when increasing access to schooling.”