Exam pressure on children should be decreased in Turkey: PISA founder
Önder Öndeş – ISTANBUL
Andreas Schleicher, head of education at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has said that Turkey needs to take steps in the education system that will decrease exam pressure on children.
Schleicher, who also founded the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), told daily Hürriyet in an interview that the Turkish education system focuses too much on standardized testing.
“Multiple choice exams are not enough to assess complex information and skills. A reform of exams needs to be taken in Turkey in the short term. And officials are currently working to accomplish this. Progress has been made, and this is important. But exams are continuing to cause pressure on students and families. This is because the number of good schools in the country is few. In the short- or long-term, Turkey needs better schools…Every child indeed needs to receive a perfect education,” he said.
Schleicher, however, emphasized that Turkey is on a right track in terms of improving its education system. “I am sure that the education will thrive further. The capacity of the system is a lot. And the resources are enough for the targets,” he said.
Schleicher said that he likes the “holistic approach” of Turkey’s 2023 Education Vision, which was shared by the Education Ministry last year. The vision document sets many goals for the year 2023 regarding education in all its levels and forms and offers a vision in subjects such as fundamental policies, administration of education, assessment and evaluation, improvement of public resources, guidance and counseling services and foreign language teaching.
“The surveys conducted within the framework of PISA 2015 showed that Turkey was one of the countries in the OECD whose students had a low level of wellbeing. And [Turkey’s] 2023 Education Vision is aware of this,” he said. For the first time in 2015, the PISA analyzed students’ wellbeing, their sense of belonging at school, their relationships with peers and teachers, their home life and how they spend their time outside of school.
Schleicher said that there is still too much “distance” between teachers and students in Turkey, emphasizing the importance of teacher-student interaction. “Student wellbeing depends most of all on the quality of the relationship between teachers and students. There is still distance between teachers and students in Turkey. Teachers are not spending much time with their students outside the classroom.
Educators know about the subjects and how they will teach them, but they do not [know that much] about their students. Students need to know that when they are having a difficulty in lectures, their teachers will come to help them,” he said.
In the Turkish education system, the focus is mostly on academic success, according to Schleicher. “This is, of course, important, but you also need to know how your students are feeling. You need to watch out if your students feel they belong to the school or not. Teachers, apart from education, should allocate time for their students’ wellbeing,” he said.