Vietnam overtakes US, most of EU in biggest-ever education rankings

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Vietnamese students from local high schools listen to a US college representative during the first US Higher Education Fair in Hanoi on January 30, 2015. Photo: AFP Vietnamese students from local high schools listen to a US college representative during the first US Higher Education Fair in Hanoi on January 30, 2015. Photo: AFP

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Vietnam ranked 12th out of 76 economies in a new global education survey, overtaking the US and many EU countries, international media reported Wednesday.
The rankings by the economic think tank OECD were based on 15-year-olds' performance in maths and science tests. The US placed 28th while most of the EU, including Denmark, Sweden and the UK were outside the top 15. 
Asian economies dominated the top positions. Singapore took the top place, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, BBC reported. 
African countries, on the other hand, were mostly at the bottom of the ranking which, OECD's education director Andreas Schleicher said, had "a truly global scale of the quality of education" for the first time.
He also explained why Asian countries outranked others.
"If you go to an Asian classroom you'll find teachers who expect every student to succeed. There's a lot of rigor, a lot of focus and coherence," he told BBC.
"These countries are also very good at attracting the most talented teachers in the most challenging classrooms, so that every student has access to excellent teachers."
Better education, higher economic growth
In its analysis, OECD showed a link between economy and education.
It estimated how much a country's gross domestic product will be able to grow over the lifetime of today's 15-year-olds, if all its youngsters are enrolled in school and can achieve the "least basic skills" in maths and science.
For Vietnam, where only one in every 10 youngsters was found to lack the skills, the growth potential was predicted at 304 percent.
The ratio in the UK was two in 10 students, The Telegraph reported. 
Vietnam's economy grew by 6 percent last year, the strongest pace since 2011. It is expected to expand 6.1 percent next year, according to Asian Developmental Bank.
In a comment on OECD's latest ranking, Schleicher told BBC that: "The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world's education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them."
Prior to the ranking, OECD is known to administer Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA tests involving maths, science and reading skills, once in every three years since 2000.
Its last survey, carried out in 2012, was the largest by then with 65 polled countries and territories.
Vietnam joined PISA tests for the first time that year and achieved "a star performance" with the eighth position.

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