Koreans top OECD in study on reading abilities, educational attainment
Korean students ranked first in their reading abilities among those in the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development and eight non-OECD states.
The country also topped the list for the percentage of people aged 25 to 34 who have a high school diploma with the figure at 98 percent, as well as for the percentage of the people in the age group with college degrees.
The OECD released a study titled “Education at a Glance” on Sept. 11 that examines educational levels and surroundings facing its 34 member states as well as eight non-OECD nations.
According to the study, Korean students raised by mothers of low education backgrounds, or those who didn’t attend high school, scored the highest with a 504 on OECD’s PISA reading assessment. OECD’s average score among students in the same group was 453.
PISA, an acronym for “Programme for International Student Assessment,” is administered by the OECD every three years and aims to provide nations in and out of the OECD group windows to their progress in education by measuring the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in their respective languages.
More than 70 countries have participated in PISA to assess their educational development since the first survey was conducted in 2000.
Korea’s top place in the category was followed by Finland and Canada, whose scores are 496 and 491, respectively. Japan’s score of 483 ranked fourth.
Students born to mothers with high education levels, the equivalent of college degrees and above, also displayed the highest score of 555 among the group members. The average of the 42 nations in the survey was 520.
Korea’s reading ability gap of 51 scores between the two groups of students is narrower than that of the 42 nations, which stands at 67.
“Korea’s narrower gap between the two groups can be attributed to a high emphasis placed on education shared by all across social classes in the country,” said Moon Sung-bin, researcher at the Korean Educational Development Institute.
“Unlike some foreign countries in which children usually follow education levels of their parents, Koreans in general display a higher tendency to pursue higher education levels regardless of parents’ education backgrounds.”
The generational gap in education levels, however, appears to be the widest among the OECD states as only 13 percent of those aged from 55 to 64 have college degrees while 65 percent of those between 25 and 34 have gone to higher education institutions.
The OECD members’ average figure for the category for those aged 25 to 34 is 38 percent while for those between 55 and 64 years old is 23 percent.
“The wide generational gap in the percentage of college admissions represents a rapid economic development the country has undergone in the last 50 years,” Moon said.
By Kang Jin-kyu [email@example.com]