China rising, Finland falling fast, in global education rankings

China rising, Finland falling fast, in global education rankings


norman lebrecht

December 03, 2013

The all-important Pisa results are in for year-10 maths and science performance.

China and Singapore top the tables. Finland, which has come second for most of the past decade, remains a top-four nation in science but has slipped badly in  maths, overtaken by Poland, Canada, Netherlands and Lichtenstein.  Must try harder in Suomi.

pisa scores






  • Violinist says:

    Finland is still way ahead of the Uk so just try and catch up and keep up if you can!

  • Malcolm James says:

    There was a news item on the BBC 6 o’clock news about this yesterday. in Korea kids do 13 hours a day at school plus private crammer in the evening, the16 y.o. featured got home after 11, went to bed at 2 in the morning and got up at 6.30. A Channel 4 documentary shown earlier this year on a similar system in HK painted a similar picture. If this is where we have to head, the world has truly gone to hell in a handcart.

    Furthermore I note that France is slightly ahead of us in maths and reading. I know two couples (one British and one French/British) living in France who are so disillusioned with the French education system that they have sent their children to boarding school in the UK. One of the main complaints is that the French system is so regimented that it leaves no room for creativity and thinking. But then I don’t suppose that likes of Gove want people to think for themselves.

    • The end of your post is spot on. The French system is geared towards the learning by rote of a series of facts and formulae which will enable the candidate to pass certain exams and thus be eligible for certain jobs in France. It’s a constant issue for debate, generating much hot air but little, if no, change. Had Einstein unveiled his Theory of Relativity in France, he’d have failed as he did not follow the accepted procedure, is a popular anecdote. Sadly, there appears to be a lot of truth in it. Arts in schools are criminally under-represented so music tuition is almost exclusively private and the preserve of the white middle classes; don’t hold your breath if you want to see kids of whatever colour from the banlieue with a violin in their hand any time soon.

      I don’t know about Gove, but countries like Britain are more likely to give chances to people who think outside the box. In France, forget it.

      • Girardasse says:

        The theory of relativity “unveiled” by Einstein, owes a great deal to Henri Poincare (and Lorentz). Einstein has the fame of the general public but Henri Poincare can be considered the father of the theory of Special Relativity and is arguably one of the greatest scientists of all time. By the way, Poincare was French…

        French eduaction system has given birth to more mathematicians (and Fields medals) than any countries in the world.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Are there any global education rankings among high school students? That would be more valuable.

  • Anonymous says:

    Singapore no. 2 whut whut! All the hard slaving work pays off to be second (:

  • Robert Fraser says:

    I was directed to this via a friend’s sharing of it on Facebook. The thumbnail photo accompanying the link was a nude woman in a sauna. I’m not sure who has control over what thumbnails go out from your website, but you may want to re-think this one. At best, it just looks silly: “What does a naked woman have to do with science test scores?” I could envision all sorts of other, more negative reactions to it as well.

    “Just sayin’…” to use the vernacular.

    • Tim Benjamin says:

      Well, it brought you here!

      I must confess it brought me here too. I was disappointed to see merely an informative graph and lack of “rising fast” puns etc.

      Presumably it was a Finnish sauna and the headline mentioned Finland and it was therefore a completely relevant and appropriate photo for the story.

  • Joel V. says:

    I hear that in Finland the school days are a bit shorter compared to many other countries. So, I guess they have probably increased the school curriculum in order to keep up in the competition – the result has been the opposite ! Poor Suomi 🙂