Asian countries have topped the rnakings in a global education report which evaluates the knowledge and skills of 15 and 16-year-olds around the world.
The report by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), published on Tuesday, shows that children from Asian nations continue to outshine their western counterparts in maths, science and reading.
The city of Shanghai topped the table in the three-yearly reported which tested more than 510,000 students in 65 countries. Children in Shanghai were, on average, the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling ahead of the majority of nations tested.
Peru, at the bottom of the rankings, has students almost six years behind the top nation.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea rounded out the top five in maths skills, which was the main focus of the report.
The PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) is the single largest study of global schooling and has been dubbed the World Cup of education.
“With high levels of youth unemployment, rising inequality and a pressing need to boost growth in many countries, it’s more urgent than ever that young people learn the skills they need to succeed,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.
“In a global economy, competitiveness and future job prospects will depend on what people can do with what they know. Young people are the future, so every country must do everything it can to improve its education system and the prospects of future generations.”
The report is highly influential among education officials, with participating countries representing more than 80 percent of the global economy and often adapting policy in response to the findings.
Macau, Japan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands all made the top ten in maths skills.
In China, the report only includes some of the country’s most economically advanced regions, which the OECD acknowledges are not representative of the entire country.
Top performers, notably in Asia, place great emphasis on selecting and training teachers, encourage them to work together and prioritise investment in teacher quality, not classroom sizes.
They also set clear targets and give teachers autonomy in the classroom to achieve them.