Thailand outdone by Vietnam in latest education rankings

Thailand outdone by Vietnam in latest education rankings
High tech: Students use tablet computers at the Ban San Kong school in Mae Chan, northern Thailand.

Thailand trails far behind two other Southeast Asian countries in the biggest-ever global grading of education quality.

Thailand sits down at 47th, while Singapore emerged as best brain in the world and Vietnam did nicely at 12th in the latest league table from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based on the performance of 15-year-olds on math and science tests.

Its ranking covers more than a third of the world's nations. With 76 countries, it presents a much wider map of education standards than the OECD's previous rankings based on Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, which focus on more affluent industrialised countries.

"This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education," Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's education director, said yesterday.

The OECD economic think tank says the comparisons show the link between education and economic growth.

"The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world's education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them," he said.

Asian countries swept the first five rungs. Singapore was followed by Hong Kong and South Korea. Japan and Taiwan were tied at fourth. The US could only manage 28th.

Finland, which has long been famous for educational quality, ended up sixth this time.

Thailand emerging at 47th does not come as a surprise since it was 50th in the last PISA test in 2012, which polled 65 countries and regions.

However, Thailand outdid Malaysia and Indonesia, which were 52nd and 69th.

Lagging behind Indonesia were only seven countries - Botswana, Peru, Oman, Morocco, Honduras, South Africa and Ghana bringing up the rear.

The findings related to this ranking would be formally presented at the World Education Forum in South Korea next week, where the United Nations will convene a conference on targets for raising global education by 2030.

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