The PISA tests, which are used to compare countries’ secondary educational performance, are to undergo radical changes in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Andreas Schleicher, the official in charge of the program told Al-Fanar Media in an interview.
“There will be a special emphasis on creative thinking,” he said. “The only thing that won’t change is the age of the children.”
Schleicher is director for education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and runs the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, in which 15-year-olds are tested every three years for their ability in reading, mathematics and science.
The results of the six Arab countries which took part in 2018 were “deeply disturbing,” Schleicher said at the time, and showed that the region had further to go than any other part of the world. Asked whether he saw any reason to revise that assessment today, he replied that he was “quite optimistic” about changes to curriculum design. (See two related articles, “Arab Countries Rank Poorly in Latest PISA Tests” and “Looking at Arab Education Through PISA Tests.”)
“You can see that there has been a lot of reflection in the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia in particular,” he said.
Those two countries, together with Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Qatar, have again confirmed their participation in the next PISA tests, which have been postponed from this year until 2022 because of the pandemic. The Palestinian Authority has also signed on. Schleicher said he expected the whole Gulf region to take part, “which is very encouraging,” but that Egypt would delay until 2025.