Singapore spearheads Asia's dominance in global education survey

Singapore spearheads Asia's dominance in global education survey

Singapore is currently the highest-ranked Asian country in terms of educational attainment. In Europe, on the other hand, the rate is declining at a remarkable rate, and this is not only due to the impact of Covid. However, the report also shows that students in the top-performing countries do not necessarily have higher levels of happiness. 

The PISA survey, released Tuesday, is conducted every three years by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assess the ability of 15-year-old students to face real-life challenges.

Analysis of the PISA 2022 results shows a decline in student performance unprecedented in the history of PISA, Irene Hu, an education analyst at the OECD, told reporters. Singapore topped the latest assessment, which involved 690,000 students from 81 countries and economies in 2022.

In the survey, the Southeast Asian city-state scored the highest in three key areas: math, reading and science. According to the report, these results show that Singaporean students are, on average, on par with their peers who are nearly three to five years older.

Education systems in five other Asian regions - Macau, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea - followed suit in the math rankings and achieved the highest scores in reading and science. 

Despite Asia's positive performance, other parts of the world saw a decline, resulting in what the report describes as an "unprecedented drop in performance".

Countries such as Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland, for example, saw a drop in performance in math, the report says. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to educational standards, the report also highlights other factors that have contributed to the decline.

Students in Finland, Iceland, and Sweden, previously known as high-achieving countries, have seen their grades decline in recent years. The report states that this decline in performance points to long-term problems in the education system and is not just related to the impact of COVID-19.

According to the report, a key factor in this decline is “the level of support pupils received from teachers and school staff”, as the OECD's Hu said. Eric Charbonnier, an OECD education analyst, added that some education systems have not provided adequate resources to support students.

A recent statement by OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann emphasized that the latest PISA results come amid profound changes in education. According to him, in addition to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education systems, there is also a deepening digital transformation in society.

Significantly, for the first time, the OECD explored aspects of students' happiness by using nine dimensions of their lives as indicators of well-being. These dimensions include engagement in school, material and cultural well-being, openness to diversity, and psychological well-being.
They found that in countries with the highest math scores, such as Singapore, Macau, and Taiwan, "many students reported a high fear of failure and limited engagement in extracurricular activities such as sports.

In contrast, in countries with lower average PISA test scores, such as Spain and Peru, the research showed that students tended to have "lower levels of anxiety and a greater focus on sports."

Source: AFP

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