21 December 2011

India Ranks Lowest on the Global Study of Learning Standards

India was ranked the lowest on the global study of learning standards while its closest neighbor, China ranked first, reveals a recent survey by  Programme for International Student Assessment( PISA) coordinated by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

 Sixty-four economies originally participated in PISA 2009. Ten additional participants took part this time and it is known as the PISA 2009+ project. It is the first time that India has taken part in this survey. This was an international comparative survey which compared 15-year-olds’ knowledge and skills in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

In India, the survey was confined only to the states of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu ranked 72 and Himachal Pradesh 73, just ahead of Kyrgyzstan in mathematics and overall reading skills. The eastern Chinese metropolis of Shanghai topped the PISA rankings in all three categories- overall reading skills, mathematical and scientific literacy.

On the scientific literacy scale, Tamil Nadu students were estimated to have an average score which is significantly higher than Himachal Pradesh’s but below the average of all OECD countries.  In Tamil Nadu, 16 percent of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies. In Himachal Pradesh it is 11 percent. This compares to 82 percent in the OECD countries, on average.

In Himachal Pradesh, 11 percent of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline. In Tamil Nadu, this percentage is 17. This compares to 81 percent of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average. Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are considered to be among India’s more progressive states. The India Human Development Report 2011, prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR), categorized them as “median” states, putting them significantly ahead of the national average. But the results of the PISA survey have indeed raised questions on the Indian education system.

On the other hand, the survey ignored India’s 100 percent literate state like Kerala and this raises the question if the results from the two states would hold good for the rest of the country?