PETALING JAYA: Two Asian countries made it to the top five places of a survey measuring teenagers' educational skills in which Finland retained its the number one spot.
South Korea and Japan emerged as number two and number four respectively in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) held for the second time.
The survey also revealed a widening gap between countries where 15-year-olds achieved the best results and those who fared the worst in reading, mathematics, science and problem-solving as some low-performing countries showed only small improvements or had actually done less well.
Already leading in the Pisa 2000 reading assessment, Finland maintained its high reading literacy while further improving its performance in mathematics and science in Pisa 2003.
South Korea, with a national income that is 30% below the OECD average, was an exception for an overall trend of students from wealthier countries performing better in educational terms than those from poor nations.
Pisa 2003 also showed that high expenditure did not guarantee educational success as a number of countries – including Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands and again South Korea – did well in terms of “value for money” while some big spenders performed below the OECD average.
Young people in the 41 countries (including 11 non-members) that took part in the two-hour tests. The survey found Mexico and Turkey faring the worst.
Striking differences in how countries handled the diverse students' social and economic backgrounds were also found. – Financial Times