Greek pupils lag in science test

Greek secondary school students ranked 38th in an international survey testing their scientific knowledge and aptitude – a performance significantly below the average for the 57 countries assessed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Regarded as an international yardstick of secondary school students’ achievements, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey – tests students on «how much they know about science and their ability to use scientific knowledge and understanding to identify and address problems in daily life.» According to Greek professors involved in coordinating PISA, teaching methods in Greek schools may be to blame for the relatively poor performance of 15-year-olds in the test. «In other countries, lessons in math – for example – might be more difficult than in Greece but in foreign schools children learn the value of math in its application,» said Panayiotis Kazantzis, Patras University math professor and PISA coordinator. The students who performed best in the PISA test were those in Finland, scoring an average of 563 points, followed by those in Hong Kong, with 542 points. Greek students amassed a 473-point average, ranking just above their counterparts in Israel, Chile and Serbia. Another Greek academic involved in the PISA test, Vasso Hadzinikita of Greece’s Open University, stressed that the Greek education system had to be reformed if pupils were to compete more effectively. «The topics examined by PISA are similar to those taught to Greek pupils but the style of teaching is different – we would have better results if this were changed,» she said. According to Hadzinikita, Greek schools emphasize rote learning and fail to encourage comparative thinking.