Two Southeast Asian Nations Attain Top 35 Highest PISA Scores Worldwide

Two Southeast Asian Nations Attain Top 35 Highest PISA Scores Worldwide

The latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has entered its eighth cycle since its initial launch in 2000. Close to 700,000 students from 81 OECD members and partner economies participated in the PISA test in 2022, representing a 29 million secondary school cohort worldwide.

It is an initiative launched by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the aim of evaluating students’ knowledge, critical thinking, and learning strategies that are crucial for addressing today’s world challenges. The results could additionally reflect education quality and equity across the globe.

The PISA test examines the reading literacy, mathematics, and science knowledge, with the addition of creative thinking and financial literacy skills, of 15-year-old students. Along with their cognitive reviews, test-takers are also required to answer questions about themselves, their learning attitudes, and their home circumstances. The OECD finally published the 2022 result on December 5, 2023.

Singapore emerged as the first Southeast Asian country to claim the coveted top spot in the worldwide PISA rankings for 2015. The nation that had slipped to second place in 2018 has once again ascended to the pinnacle of global rankings in 2022. With an impressive mean score of 560, Singapore achieved the highest scores in all subjects of mathematics, reading, and science.

A staggering 92% of students in the country have surpassed the basic level of mathematical proficiency, with the OECD average at 69%. These exceptional performances not only showcase Singapore’s resilience in mathematics but also provide equal opportunities for all students. Concerns have indeed arisen regarding students’ well-being or sense of belonging at school.

Viet Nam ranked second-highest in the region and 34th globally with a score of 468. This represents a significant drop from its previous positions of 21st in 2015 and 17th in 2012. Brunei Darussalam has secured the 42nd world rank with a 439 mean score. This puts the nation as the third-highest within Southeast Asia.

Malaysia, ranked 55th globally and 4th in the region, has experienced startling shifts in its performance. Between PISA 2018 and 2022 scores, Malaysia’s science scores experienced a decline of over 20 points, while mathematics scores witnessed a significant drop of more than 30 points.

Thailand ranked 5th, while Indonesia closely followed in 6th place, and the Philippines secured the 7th spot within the region. On a global scale, Thailand appeared at 63rd, Indonesia at 69th, and the Philippines at 77th. Cambodia showed up with the lowest PISA score at 337, both in the region and on a global scale. Laos, Myanmar, and Timor-Leste were absent from participation in this program.

Despite the latest podium in regional and global rankings, Cambodia stood out as one of the only four countries that have shown notable improvement across all three subjects between PISA 2018 and 2022. Cambodia, along with Brunei Darussalam, demonstrated an outstanding surge ranging from 10 to 16 score points in mathematics. Similarly, both countries’ reading literacy has shown a commendable improvement, with a rise of 8 to 21 score points and science performance elevated by around 15 to 26 points.

Over the past decade, Cambodia and Indonesia have made remarkable progress in pursuing universal secondary education. The education systems of both countries have taken substantial strides towards inclusivity and expanding education access to marginalized populations. This achievement is crucial, as it paves the way for equal opportunities and contributes to the countries’ economies.



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