Expatica news

Dutch education scores highly in OECD report

7 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch students are among the world’s best when it comes to maths, science and literacy, and schools in the Netherlands ranked highly overall in a new study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Paris-based OECD said that Finland performed best again as the gap between the best and poorest performers widened. Top ranking Asian schools were found in Hong Kong-China, Japan and Korea, while the US was ranked a lowly 28th.

The OECD is an international organisation of developed countries that adhere to the principles of representative democracy and a free market economy.

While the OECD did not publish a combined ranking for the countries studied, Dutch media organisations used the results of four separate studies (mathematics, literacy, science and problem solving) to give an average ranking of 4th for the Netherlands. But an OECD spokesman told Expatica this ranking was only an estimate.

The Netherlands was not given any rankings when the last study was conducted in 2000 because not enough students completed the questionnaire. But the OECD singled out the Netherlands in its 2003 study as one of the best performing OECD nations.

The positive results from the study — which involved 250,000 students aged 15 in 41 countries — comes after the OECD criticised the Netherlands in September for its education results. But this criticism was mainly directed at the high percentage of young people leaving school without a diploma.

The Netherlands has also lost its top position when it comes to students with higher professional HBO or VWO university education, newspaper De Volkskrant reported. In general terms though, Dutch education usually scores well in OECD comparative studies.

The OECD said in a press release it investigated a nation’s education results in four areas. Dutch students performed especially well in maths, plus also literacy. But Japan topped the ranks in terms of literacy in OECD nations.

The Dutch education system was considered one of the most cost effective, ranking eighth in terms of the results achieved from the government’s level of investment.

The OECD also singled out Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Japan and Korea for the “value of money” they achieve with their education investment. But some of the “big spenders” perform below the OECD average.

Schools in the Netherlands differ greatly in terms of quality and together with seven other countries such as Germany, Italy and Japan, the differences in school quality in the Netherlands is growing. Differences in student performances are attributed to varying school quality.

The OECD said wealthier countries tend to perform better in educational terms, but there are exceptions, such as Korea. The national income in Korea is 30 percent below the OECD average, but its students are among the best performers in OECD countries.

Despite the fact that girls outperform boys in reading in all countries, gender differences in maths are small. More boys are among top performers in most countries.

The so-called PISA study ranked Brazil last in terms of education, while Germany was a noteworthy moderate performer, ranking just 19th among 41 countries studied. Germany has failed to improve in recent years despite domestic criticism of its education system.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news