Greek pupils near bottom of class

Greek schoolchildren are performing much worse in a range of subjects compared to their counterparts around the world, according to a report made public yesterday. Some 4,620 15-year-old pupils from 171 schools in Greece took part in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) during 2003. They were joined by students from another 39 countries. Greek 15-year-olds came 32nd in math and problem-solving and were 30th when it came to reading comprehension and sciences. Overall, Greece was in 28th place – above Mexico but below Italy and substantially lower than the OECD average. «It is amazing that our students failed in mathematics and problem-solving. Obviously, these results mean that emphasis needs to be given to what skills they need to develop in school, rather than what they are taught,» Vassilis Koulaidis, a professor of politics at the Greek Open University, told Kathimerini. But Koulaidis pointed out that Greek results in science and reading comprehension had improved since the last test in 2000. The professor also highlighted that the report’s results indicated that Greece is one of the countries where socioeconomic background does not always dictate how well a student performs. The results have caused concern among some experts. «The results are worrying and need to be studied. It is important that we find a way to improve the way mathematics is taught. However, I cannot accept that being in the last few places is a true reflection our standard. The fact that Greek schoolchildren come top in other international mathematics competitions suggests a different picture,» Yiannis Tirlis, a member of the council of the Greek Mathematical Society, told Kathimerini.