Asia dominates world education rankings

By Harvey Morris in London | | Updated: 2016-12-06 22:31

China's school pupils ranked in the top ten for science and maths in the latest international assessment of educational standards published on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The organisation's influential Programme for International Student Assessment, better known as the "Pisa test", assesses the attainment of half a million 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries and regions in science, maths and reading every three years.

Singapore topped the rankings in all three subjects, ahead of schools in Europe and north and south America. Shanghai came first in earlier tests but in the latest assessment it was grouped with Beijing, Jiangsu and Guangdong to achieve an overall mainland score of 10th in science and 6th in maths.

In reading, the mainland regions came in at 27th place, around the international average.

Among the other Asian school systems that made it into the top 10 for maths were Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

In a separate report on China, identified as one of a trio of top performers alongside Singapore and Estonia, the OECD noted that it had in recent years made great efforts to promote the equity and quality of the education system, focusing attention on disadvantaged regions and people.

It said that in 2015, the year the latest tests were carried out, China had faced the challenge that more than 13.5 million students were internal migrants, mostly having moved with their parents from rural areas to cities.

"In recent years, more than 80 percent of migrant children studied in local public schools, and up to 86 percent of migrant children were supported by government finances," the report said, adding that some 15 percent of the students in state schools who sat the Pisa test were migrant students.

At the launch of the report in London, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría cautioned even the top performers not to be complacent.

"A decade of scientific breakthroughs has failed to translate into breakthroughs in science performance in schools," he said.

"Every country has room for improvement, even the top performers. With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality, a significant gender gap, and an urgent need to boost inclusive growth in many countries, more must be done to ensure every child has the best education possible."

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