Vietnamese student achievements rank in top 20: OECD survey
Vietnam ranks 19th among 20 countries which have students gaining the best achievements in the latest OECD rankings.
The Independent, in its article titled ‘The best countries in the world to get an education’ published on December 8, 2016, named 20 of the best performing countries for education and Vietnam ranked the 19th in the list.
The article was published just two days after OECD released the 2015 PISA (Programme for International Assessment) results. Vietnam ranks 8th out of 72 countries in terms of its scientific performance, the 22nd in math and 32nd in literacy.
Vietnamese students' high scores at PISA tests remain a mystery. Foreign experts were surprised that Vietnamese students could obtain such high achievements at PISA, though Vietnam is a poor country with low GDP per capita.
Of the eight developing countries participating in PISA, Vietnam has the lowest GDP per capita - $4,098 (PPP, 2010). However, the achievements of Vietnamese students were equal to students from Finland and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese wonder if high PISA results for Vietnamese students mean the country is among the world’s best education systems in the world.
Tang Thi Thuy, an expert on PISA, said PISA is just an information source which analyzes data to help identify the weak and strong points of education systems for countries to make reasonable adjustments.
“The comparisons in scores and ranking don’t reflect the quality of education systems,” she said.
In 2012, Indonesian students had low scores in mathematics, but they found it interesting to learn math. Meanwhile, Vietnamese students get high scores in math, but do not have a passion for the subject.
Some critics commented that PISA questions are designed in a way which give advantages to countries which focus on math and problem-solving such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
PISA cannot measure other factors which contribute to the success of education systems. It, for example, cannot measure student achievements in art which require creativity, or students’ satisfaction about their education systems.
About Vietnamese student abilities, director of the Education Management Institute Pham Quang Trung, commented that Vietnamese are too pessimistic about students and education.
He said it is necessary to assess Vietnam education’s quality in the context of socio-economic development.
Vietnam now spends approximately 20 percent of GDP on education, a relatively high level for a poor country.
He believes that weak English skills are the biggest problem.
“If Vietnam can meet the requirements in foreign language skills, its students will be in no way inferior to any other countries’ students, including Finland or the US,” he said.