Macau beats HK in student first

Local | Sophie Hui 4 Dec 2019

Hong Kong students have been surpassed by those in Macau in reading, mathematics and scientific literacy for the first time, says a key education survey.

That came with the Chinese University announcing the results of its Program for International Student Assessment 2018 yesterday.

The survey is organized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and carried out every three years to assess mother-tongue reading and mathematical and scientific literacy of 15-year-old students.

A total of 6,037 Hong Kong students from 152 secondary schools took part in the study from April to May last year.

Among the 79 countries and economies taking part in the poll, Hong Kong ranked fourth in reading literacy with a score of 524, down two spots from the 2015 survey. The score in this area has also dropped three points.

Mainland students from four regions (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang) ranked top in reading, followed by Singapore and Macau. Macau has climbed nine spots from 12th place.

Despite Hong Kong having a score of 551 in mathematical literacy, three points higher, it ranked only fourth in the area, falling two places from 2015, while the top three spots were occupied by the mainland, Singapore and Macau.

The SAR remained ninth in scientific literacy, but the score dropped six points to 517. The mainland ranked first, followed by Singapore and Macau.

The study also found that girls in Hong Kong perform better than boys in all three areas. The mean score in reading literacy of female students is 35 points higher than male students.

Hau Kit-tai, the Choh-Ming Li professor of educational psychology at the university and also the national project manager of Hong Kong PISA 2018, said the findings are a warning signal to Hong Kong that Macau's performance has kept improving.

Hong Kong's ranking in scientific literacy has been falling, which he believed is because students can choose the scientific subjects they like under the current academic structure, and not many students would study all three scientific subjects - physics, chemistry and biology.

He said it is time to discuss education reform in Hong Kong.

A spokesman of the education bureau said Hong Kong students' performance in the three areas was significantly higher than the international level.

"The achievements can be attributed to the efforts of schools and teachers, as well as the support of various stakeholders in providing quality education," he said.

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