India signs PISA 2021 in a bid to assess education levels of 15-year-olds

India and OECD sign agreement to enable India’s participation in Programme for International Students Assessment to be held in 2021.

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HRD Minister Javadekar signing PISA with OECD officials

After a gap of 12 years, India’s schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UT of Chandigarh will participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment #PISA 2021 which is a worldwide assessment of a sample of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science and collaborative problem-solving.

Recall that India had participated in the study only in 2009 through schools in two states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh. However, the results of the study, where Tamil Nadu was ranked 72 and Himachal Pradesh was ranked 73 out of 74 participants, had indicated overall standard of education in India was well below the global standards.

Since then, India never participated in the assessment and instead developed its own assessment system called the National Achievement Survey through National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) on the instructions of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.

“Unlike content-based assessment, the triennial international survey is a competency-based assessment which measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that are essential for full participation in modern societies.”

It is seen to be a measure that would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century as it allows for benchmarking performance against a wide range of countries.


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A signing ceremony of the agreement between India and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for India’s participation took place in New Delhi recently in the presence of Union HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar.

In his address, the Minister said that Government of India has decided that India will participate in the Programme to be conducted by the #OECD in 2021.

“He said that the participation in PISA 2021 would indicate the health of the education system and would motivate other schools/states in the subsequent cycles.”

The learnings from participation in PISA will help to introduce competency based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning. The CBSE and NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.

The Minister further said that it will lead to improvement in the learning levels of the children and enhance the quality of education in the country.


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Using test items aligned with international benchmarks, test items are adapted to the local context and language, pilot tested and validated before being used for the test.

He further apprised OECD has agreed to ask some of the questions based on Indian context. The Minister hoped that our students will perform well and we will get a good position in the overall rankings.

“Notably, more than 80 countries including 44 middle-income countries have participated in the assessment since the first round of testing in 2000.”

The list of registered countries includes Brazil, China (certain areas like Shanghai and Beijing) and countries from South-East Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The agreement was signed by MHRD Joint Secretary Maneesh Garg and Andreas Schleicher, Director (PISA) in OECD.

Rina Ray, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, Govt of India, Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank, Amit Dar, Director, Human Development, Shabnam Sinha, Lead Communication Officer, World Bank and Marguerite, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank were others present on the occasion.