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Dec, 08 2016

Singapore tops the chart of PISA test, beating UK and US

The influential Pisa rankings, run by the OECD, are based on tests taken by 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries.

Singapore, named as the top rated country for maths and science in another ranking last week, is in first place in all the Pisa test subjects, ahead of school systems across Asia, Europe, Australasia and North and South America.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) provides education rankings based on international tests taken by 15-year-olds in maths, reading and science.

The influential Pisa rankings, run by the OECD, are based on tests taken by 15-year-olds in more than 70 countries.

OECD education director Andreas Schleicher said Singapore was "not only doing well, but getting further ahead".

The tests, run by the OECD and taken every three years, have become increasingly influential on politicians who see their countries and their policies being measured against these global school league tables.

Asian countries continue to dominate, with Singapore rated as best, replacing Shanghai, which is now part of a combined entry for China.

The US has again failed to make progress.

"We're losing ground - a troubling prospect when, in today's knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world,'' said the US Education Secretary, John King.

Mr Schleicher said that Asian countries such as Singapore managed to achieve excellence without wide differences between children from wealthy and disadvantaged families.

The small Asian country focused relentlessly on education as a way of developing its economy and raising living standards.

And from being among the world's poorest, with a mix of ethnicities, religions and languages, Singapore has overtaken the wealthiest countries in Europe, North America and Asia to become the number one in education.

Prof Sing Kong Lee, vice-president of Nanyang Technological University, which houses Singapore's National Institute of Education, said a key factor had been the standard of teaching.

"Singapore invested heavily in a quality teaching force - to raise up the prestige and status of teaching and to attract the best graduates," said Prof Lee.

The country recruits its teachers from the top 5 percent of graduates in a system that is highly centralised.

All teachers are trained at the National Institute of Education, and Prof Lee said this single route ensured quality control and that all new teachers could "confidently go through to the classroom".

This had to be a consistent, long-term approach, sustained over decades, said Prof Lee.

Education was an "eco-system", he said, and "you can't change one part in isolation".

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