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THE NEWS

Having not participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) since 2012, India has now decided to end its nine-years long boycott of the examination. In this context, India has signedan agreement to enable India’s participation in Programme for PISA to be held in 2021.

KEY-HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AGREEMENT:

  • As per the agreement, Indian school students will in 2021 appear for the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) test.
  • The test will help reveal where they stand globally as far as learning outcomes are concerned.OECD has agreed to ask some of the questions based on Indian context.
  • Participators: Schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UT of Chandigarh will participate.The CBSE and NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.
  • Coverage: Within the country (or specific geography to be covered in case of large countries), PISA covers a sample of 15-year-old students representing all forms of schooling i.e. public, private, private aided etc.

BACKGROUND:

  • The PISA assessments were introduced in 2000, but India made its debut in the “extended cycle” of the test for 2009 from 400 schools across Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • In 2009, India bagged the 72nd rank among 74 participating countries.The country, subsequently, chose to not participate in the 2012 and 2015 test.
  • In 2012, China’s schools of Shanghai topped the reading, mathematics and science test, followed closely by Singapore.
  • In 2015, Singapore, Japan,and Estonia were ranked as the top three countries in the assessment.

WHAT IS PISA:

  • PISA was introduced in 2000 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • It is an international survey which aims to evaluate the education system across the world by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old studentsin reading, mathematics,and science.
  • OECD conducts PISA every three years.
  • More than 80 countries, including 44 middle-income countries, have participated in the assessment since the first round of testing in 2000. Next round of PISA is going to be held in 2021.
  • The list of registered countries includes Brazil, China (certain areas like Shanghai and Beijing) and countries from South-East Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia,and Vietnam.

HOW PARTICIPATION IN PISA WILL HELP:

  • The participation in PISA 2021 would indicate the health of the education system and would motivate other schools /states in the subsequent cycles.
  • This will lead to improvement in the learning levels of the children and enhance the quality of education in the country.
  • It would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.
  • Learning from participation in PISA will help introduce competency-based examination reforms in the school system.

ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION & DEVELOPMENT:

  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was established in 1961, headquartered at Paris, France.
  • It aims to promote policies which can effectively improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
  • The OECD provides a platform where governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.
  • The organization work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change and measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment.
  • There are 36 Member countries. India is not a member of OECD.
  • Current membership: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel,Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.

WHERE INDIA LACKS:

Poor quality of primary education:

  • Various studies have shown that the true indicator of economic development of a country is the education and wellbeing of its people.
  • Although India has made rapid economic progress over the last few decades, one area that has not received enough attention is the quality of primary education.
  • A large majority of students remains unemployable because of their inability to apply their knowledge in real-life situations.
  • This is just because of the poor foundational structure in schools, where the emphasis is more on rote learning, rather than testing a student’s creative skills.

Lack of quality teachers:

  • In most schools, education is one dimensional, with an obsessive focus on marks. Added to this is the lack of availability of trained teachers in schools.
  • Quality teachers are missing in the Indian education system, especially in government schools, where the quality does not meet the standards.

Poor literacy rate:

  • In India, there are 282 million people who are illiterate. With a literacy rate of 77 per cent, India lags behind other BRICS nations, which have literacy rates above 90 per cent.
  • All these countries have better student-teacher ratios. So not only does India grapple with poor quality teachers, but it also has fewer total teachers incomparison with other countries.

International institution reports:

  • As per UNESCO, India has one of the lowest public expenditure rates on education per student, especially compared to other Asian countries. It spends $264 per student per year compared to $1,800 spent by China.
  • The World Bank (WB) report on its worldwide survey of public spending on education stated that India spent a meager 11 percent of public expenditure on education, compared to 20 percent in China.

SUGGESTIVE MEASURES:

  • Assessments to bring competitiveness: National and International level accreditation and assessment programmes can foster competition among institutions.
  • Innovative mechanisms: All institutions must strive to create effective functional mechanisms to convert research into innovations. Such innovation can convert ideas into enhanced products, processes and services, and in the process, can take the inventions to the market place by translating scientific knowledge into usable forms for economic growth and social development.
  • Research &Development: Research & development in such environments can lead to the partnership of students of all levels of education and multidisciplinary innovative environment will trigger in.

CONCLUSION:

Restoring dignity to primary education should be the priority, the government must attend to. The next round of PISA is going to be held in 2021. The test results will give an insight into the education systems around the world. Doing so will not only help India benchmark its progress with international standards but will also force the country to constantly improve the standard of education based on tangible results. If such suitable and effective steps are takencontinuously, the performance of Indian students could compare with the best in the world.

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