Turkey’s education problems revealed in OECD-wide education test PISA

Turkey’s education problems revealed in OECD-wide education test PISA

Turkey’s education problems revealed in OECD-wide education test PISA The results of the international PISA education test has revealed a number of education problems in Turkey, with the opposition and education experts blaming the system for the failure.

Turkey dropped from 44th spot to the 49th compared to the last test in 2012, according to the results made public on Dec. 6.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Bursa lawmaker Ceyhun İrgil said the Turkish education system was comatose.

“The Turkish education system is in a coma. This crisis is more serious than the European Union and dollar issues, and this issue goes beyond parties,” he said. 

The number of Turkish 15-year-olds who scored below average on the triennial PISA test, which is conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is three times more than the number of students who scored below average in more successful countries, according to test results. 

Some 31.2 percent of Turkish students below 15 years of age underperformed in mathematics, sciences and reading, according to the results of the PISA test.

In contrast, only 10 percent of students in countries that neared the top of the list underperformed on math, sciences and reading.

Turkey scored 420 points on the math test to place it 49th out of 72 countries. Turkey was also 52nd in science and 50th in reading. Four years ago, Turkey was 43rd in science and 41st in reading.

“We want a parliamentary study immediately,” İrgil said. 

“It means [this issue] is a great disaster for Turkey’s socioeconomic future,” he said, that specialists had to “operate” on the education system in the same way that a surgeon would operate on a patient in a coma.  

“The PISA 2015 results are clearly telling us, ‘Turkey cannot understand even what it has read,’” İrgil said. 

The head of the Turkish Education Association, Selçuk Pehlivanoğlu, said students in Turkey had “surrendered to exams.”

“The unsuccessful countries in PISA were also those with low domestic incomes,” he said. 

“We force students to memorize knowledge to use in the [high school and university] entrance exams. We are raising a generation that surrenders to exams. We are being pulled down instead of rising,” he added.

The head of the Eğitim-İş educational workers’ union, Mehmet Balık, said Turkey had regressed to where it was 12 years ago.

“The education system should develop students’ reading skills, [ability to] understand what they read … solve problems and make evaluations,” he said. “The rules of any religion or sect should be not imposed on students in schools and any religious symbol should not be present in school books. Teachers also should not impose any religious faith on their students.”

Singapore was top of the PISA list in all three categories, gaining top spot over the 2012 winners, Shanghai. In the previous edition, only a few individual Chinese cities participated in the PISA test.

Rounding out the top 10 were Japan, Estonia, Taiwan, Finland, Macao, Canada, Vietnam, Hong Kong and then the Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong.

The United States, by contrast, finished 25th in science, 24th in reading and 40th in math.

Significant countries in Europe such as Britain, Germany and France protected their place in the PISA test in comparison with the test in 2012.

The OECD operates the triennial survey of 15-year-old students around the world as part of PISA, the Program for International Students Assessment.

PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students, near the end of their compulsory education, have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies.

The assessment focuses on the core school subjects of science, reading and mathematics. 

PISA is an ongoing program that offers insights for education policy and practice, and that helps monitor trends in students’ acquisition of knowledge and skills across countries and in different demographic subgroups within each country. 

The PISA results reveal what is possible in education by showing what students in the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems can do.

The PISA tests have become increasingly influential on politicians who see their countries and their policies being measured against these global school league tables.