Swiss students best for maths outside Asia: Pisa

Students from Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein outperformed those from the rest of the world outside of Asia in a global survey of 15-year-olds, released on Tuesday.

Swiss students best for maths outside Asia: Pisa
Photo: OECD

The 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results, issued by the OECD, showed the Swiss in ninth place for maths with 531 points, four points behind eighth-placed Liechtenstein and just ahead of the Netherlands.

The programme, testing 510,000 students in 65 countries and regions, put Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong at the top of the tables, ahead of Chinese Taipai, Korea, Macao and Japan.

The Pisa 2012 survey focused on mathematics, with reading, science and problem-solving as minor areas of assessment.

The Chinese region of Shanghai notched the highest score for maths — 619 points —119 points, or the equivalent of nearly three years above the OECD average.

The share of top performers in mathematics in that region amounted to 55.4 percent, compared to 21.4 percent in Switzerland and an OECD average of 12.6.

Switzerland was among 25 countries with students showing improvements in maths skills from comparable results in 2009.

In the 2009 Pisa tests, focused on reading, the Swiss ranked 14th.

“Top performers, notably in Asia, place great emphasis on selecting and training teachers, encourage them to work together and prioritize investment in teacher quality, not classroom sizes,” the OECD said in its report.

“They also set clear targets and give teachers autonomy in the classroom to achieve them.”

The Pisa report found that overall boys continue to perform better than girls in maths.

They scored better in 37 out of the 65 jurisdictions surveyed.

The gender gap is the reverse for reading and is widening, the report said.

For more on the Pisa 2012 findings, check here.

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Study: Swiss teenagers are happy with their lives

Fifteen-year-olds in Switzerland are happier than their contemporaries in most other developed countries, according to the latest PISA study.

Study: Swiss teenagers are happy with their lives
Swiss students are happy, but still stressed by exams. Photo: AFP/Frederick Florin

The global educational survey conducted in 2015 reveals that Swiss students not only achieve good results in maths and science but are also frontrunners when it comes to general satisfaction with life.

“Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland seem to manage to combine good results with a high level of happiness,” the authors of the study wrote in the preface.

On a scale of one to ten, the Swiss 15-year-olds had an average happiness level of 7.72.

Of the 35 OECD countries only adolescents in Mexico, Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland had higher scores.

And almost 40 percent of the Swiss study participants said they were “very happy” with their lives compared with a 12 percent OECD average.

The authors said teachers played a key role in creating the conditions for students’ well-being in school.

But the Swiss youth are less ambitious than most, the study found. Only 40 percent wanted to be among the best in the class compared with 60 percent across the OECD.

Swiss youth also had a more relaxed attitude to exams than most of their counterparts: 33.5 percent said they were very nervous before a test compared with an OECD average of 55.5 percent.

The study also found that Swiss youth were as affected by bullying as their counterparts in other countries. Almost 17 percent said they were regularly bullied or ridiculed, just two percent below the average.

Swiss participants took part in more sport (73 percent) than the average (70 percent) and spent less time on the internet than their counterparts elsewhere.