Afzal Sayed Munna : We often scared about the future of our young generation when we see media highlighting the news; UK schools are falling behind the leading countries. And we suddenly start analysing various reports of schools and start making comparison among the outstanding to required improvement schools. The primary sources of all this country comparisons data are derived from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA is a three yearly assessment of 15-year-old child’s that is carried out almost 87 participating countries including UK to create and set a benchmark on countries education system. PISA includes mainly the assessment by testing the child’s skills and knowledge on science, mathematics, reading collaborative problem solving and financial literacy. It also includes some other socio-economic contexts with limited orientation. The body behind the PISA is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation &Development (OECD) that is going to introduce a very new type of PISA for 5-year-old kids, called ‘’Baby PISA’’. To introduce this new type of controversial assessment the organization has launched an international tender back in 2016 and the initial study will take place in 2018 which results of the outcome would be published in 2020.
The most interesting danger of this assessment is the consideration of the age of the participants. A 5-year-kid is just reached his/her year 1 where they merely learned how to sit appropriately and managed to count 1 to 20. In this vulnerable age how we are expecting them to take part in a test, which will determine the future of the countries education system. We are becoming so inhuman day by day that we are just ignoring the fact that a child deserves his/her golden childhood to play and not to be tested. This unrealistic assessment would not only take the innocent childhood from our children’s but also would put us, the parents in a financial difficulties to win the race.
According to OECD,up to 15 children from at least 200 randomly selected schools and other settings in each participating country will take part in this assessment. The children will carry out four 15-minute one-to-one assessments over two days, covering literacy, numeracy, executive function and empathy and trust. A study administrator will note their observations. Though OECD has said that, it is not an assessment of school readiness but of more long-term outcomes. However, the assessment materials (which is yet to be developed) indicate that it is an assessment of school readiness, which is similar as ‘’Bold Beginnings’’ introduced by UK.
We must not forget participation on PISA is not free and most surprisingly UK showed its interest to take part in this assessment where schools across the country is suffering from appropriate budgetsto run their classesand also have shortage of qualified teachers. As an educator and doctoral researcher my worry is, what is the importance of this assessment and what is the need of these comparisons?This would not only create a panic among the children’s as they would be introduced to a very competitive environment at a very early age and also would lost motivation of being child. The parents would join the race despite their financial ability to ensure their children become selected on the assessment. I personally believe there is no validity of the PISA as each country uses their own way of education structure and education policy even though they take part on PISA. There is very limited evidence that each participating countries share their good practices with the least participating countries.
We must not forget our children needs more time to play and become a good human being. Good grades cannot be the determinants of a child’s future where we are failing to provide them a good childhood. We still couldn’t manage to answer ‘’why is education?’’
Afzal Sayed Munna
Doctoral Researcher, University of Bath