China: The world’s cleverest country? asks the BBC. Shanghai students ace PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). Now Andreas Schleicher, who runs PISA for the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) says Chinese students all over the country excel in reading, math and science.
“Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance.”
In particular, he said the test results showed the “resilience” of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds – and the “high levels of equity” between rich and poor pupils.
. . . “In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education is the key to mobility and success.”
The results for disadvantaged pupils would be the envy of any Western country, he says.
Asian culture encourages students to work hard, Schleicher tells the BBC.
“North Americans tell you typically it’s all luck. ‘I’m born talented in mathematics, or I’m born less talented so I’ll study something else.’
“In Europe, it’s all about social heritage: ‘My father was a plumber so I’m going to be a plumber’.
“In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: ‘It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard.’
“They take on responsibility. They can overcome obstacles and say ‘I’m the owner of my own success’, rather than blaming it on the system.”
The high-scoring Asian countries expect all students to succeed, Schleicher believes. School is not a “sorting mechanism” to find the brightest students.
I’m surprised to hear China described as an egalitarian education system. China’s best (and most politically connected) students attend well-funded “key” or “super” schools, which lead to top universities, complains this China.org story. Rural students are disadvantaged.