China outclasses West in education survey
Paris, France - Teenagers from four big Chinese regions outshone their contemporaries in Western nations in a keenly watched survey of education capabilities published on Tuesday, which also showed no improvement trend in developed countries over the past two decades.
The PISA survey is carried out every three years by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this time among its 37 member states and 42 partner countries and economies.
The latest study, based on two-hour tests taken by 600,000 15 year olds last year, showed that students in the four Chinese regions of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang - as well as Singapore - topped the rankings, ahead of their Western counterparts in reading, mathematics and science.
“In many Asian countries, the education of children is priority number one,” said Eric Charbonnier, an education analyst at the OECD. “Teachers have highquality training and there have been investments in schools that had difficulties,” he added.
In reading, which the OECD considers its headline indicator of education potential, the best performing OECD state was the tiny Baltic nation of Estonia, followed by Canada, Finland and Ireland. Bigger European nations languished well behind in the rankings, with Britain in 14th place, Germany 20th and France 23rd. The United States placed 13th in reading.
OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria said the students from the four Chinese provinces had ‘ outperformed by a large margin their peers from all of the other 78 participating education systems’.
Moreover, the 10 per cent most socio-economically disadvantaged students in these four areas ‘also showed better reading skills than those of the average student in OECD countries, as well as skills similar to the ten percent most advantaged students in some of these countries,” he said.
He cautioned that these four provinces and municipalities in eastern China ‘are far from representing China as a whole’.
Yet their combined populations amount to over 180mn, and the size of each region is equivalent to a typical OECD country even if their income is well below the OECD average.
University students at a library in Shenyang in China’s northeastern Liaoning province on November 26