SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Korea Bizwire) – The academic performance of South Korean students coming from underprivileged backgrounds has retreated over the past nine years, according to the latest findings of the OECD.
The percentage of youngsters belonging to the bottom 25 percent socioeconomic stratum who attained scores equating to level 3 or above on 2015′s PISA — a globally administered education survey conducted by the OECD testing 15-year-old students’ mathematics, reading and science proficiency — was 36.7 percent, placing South Korea ninth out of 70 regions where PISA was administered.
Despite its lofty top ten ranking, considering South Korea stood in second place in 2006 when 52.7 percent of its disadvantaged youth proved themselves to be “academically resilient”, the country’s 2015 position in actuality signifies a somewhat steep drop in academic performance. Within this nine-year period, South Korea’s margin of decline was second only to Finland’s (16.7 percent).
The takeaway from the PISA results is that it is increasingly difficult for the nation’s teenagers to overcome socioeconomic hardship and achieve academic success, and that the cycle of inherited poverty may become extremely hard to break free from.
At the top of the academic resilience list were Hong Kong and Macau, with scores of 53.1 percent and 51.7 percent, respectively. Rounding out the rest of the top five were Singapore, Estonia and Japan.
A number of economic powerhouses were found on the lower rungs of the rankings. Germany (12th), the U.K. (19th), France (28th) and the U.S. (31st) lagged behind, and China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong Province, Jiangsu) placed 22nd.
The OECD explained that the regions that managed to improve their resilient student numbers did so through higher average academic achievement and by lessening the effect disadvantaged students’ backgrounds had on their education.
In the case of South Korea, aspects of public education such as regular school attendance, a disciplined learning environment, and tutoring opportunities at school were found to have a positive effect on academic resilience. On the other hand, the ratio of students to computers was found to have a negative impact.
The OECD has advised that schools can take the lead in forging a more equitable and more welcoming society by providing students from low-income families with a disciplined learning environment and goal-oriented tutoring programs.