Is China Home to the World's Cleverest Students?
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Is China Home to the World's Cleverest Students?

Educational tests held across the world every three years are conducted by the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation have given the students tested in China a rating as ‘remarkable.’ The tests are conducted in reading skills, science and numeracy and in recent years have become an international benchmark for assessing the levels of the educational standards in the countries being tested.

The results of the studies show that the education system in China works and that it is fast overtaking the standards once seen as being the best in the world and leaving these western countries far behind. As China has in recent years increased its potential in terms of the economy and politically the advances made in improving its education system proves its future generations will have a significant advantage over its international competitors.

The latest findings to be released were from 2009 and those students tested from Shanghai came out on top in each of the three categories, with Hong Kong a close second. While high standards could be expected from its leading cities, the poorer and less developed areas of the country including the rural heartland all performed with a high ranking.

The results achieved showed that the students had a resilience to succeed academically despite coming from unfavourable backgrounds of poverty and not being an exclusive group existing of students originating solely from rich families. While the results from Shanghai were not unexpected those that hailed from the poorer largely farming backgrounds were a surprise to many education experts.

Education in China is expressed into its students from an early age that a good and solid education is the key to a bright future, mobility and any success that each student hopes to achieve. While China invests heavily in its future the academic achievements of these students, largely from disadvantaged backgrounds, are the envy of many of the world’s leading western countries.

The cultural differences are apparent when asked why some students succeed and others fail through the education system in the country in which they live. In Canada or the USA, students may say it is a matter of luck, lucky to be born with flair or talent to do well in mathematics or history, in many countries across Europe social heritage is important with many sons following their fathers into the same or a similar trade. In China the effort invested in studying hard leads to the level of achievement possible. The students are often left to respond to these challenges away from home and face obstacles with the resilience of knowing they can achieve success and not by blaming the inadequacies of the education system.

The tests conducted were taken by 15 year old students, with 500,000 being tested across 70 countries. Since the tests began in the year 2000 the winners in the three categories tested every three years have come mainly from Asia. Before China’s dominant showing in 2009 South Korea had featured heavily as had Taipei, Japan and Hong Kong. The only non-Asian country to feature had been Finland. The USA has never featured at the top end of these tests and one response from the White House was that if another nation’s education system is greater today then that nation could be in a position to out-compete the USA tomorrow. The attitude in the USA, where once there was no interest at looking overseas, the US education authorities are now beginning to look around the world to borrow some of these ideas. Germany, once considered a prime example within Europe for its standards of education is now seen as only being average on the world’s educational ranking system.

While China has fared well out of the latest set of results, the next sets of tests are soon due to be taken with the next batch of 15 year olds from across the world. While Asian countries are being applauded for the latest results to be scrutinized the next batch of emerging countries are expected to be Brazil, Poland and Turkey.

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Comments (5)

Well done. Good research done on this topic.

Well-said. It's horrible to hear the parents around here (in the US) think their children shouldn't have to work hard in school. Sports are often given more funding than school libraries.

 I think the culture in Asia is more disciplined, hence the better results.

What an interesting topic. Nicely written as well.

Today I return with a well-deserved vote.