The TIMSS results for 2011 are highlighted in the news these days as the US analyses the maths and science results of their grade 8 students. It seems the USA did not fair so well globally and how students faired in the exams seems to be dependent on which state they live in.
TIMSS is an acronym for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and assesses mathematics and science along with a test of student, teacher and school questionnaires. It also measure development progressions such as child poverty based on reduced school lunch programs. Sixty-three countries participated in the 2011 examinations.
The American state of Massachusetts scored higher than any other US state, but still lagged behind a number of Asian countries. South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan to the top position.
So that got me thinking about Pakistan. What position did Pakistan hold in this exam? Of all the countries that participate, Pakistan does not, but neither does India. One of our other neighbours, Iran, participates in this assessment. A search on the Internet of Pakistan’s position globally as to how our students fair in maths and sciences on the global scene, draws a blank.
It is not that we don’t have our prize-winning maths students, but it is more at the individual level than how our students rank compared to students in other countries. In the 2012 International World Maths Day Competition, first prize went to a Pakistani student from Beaconhouse School System. The second place went to another Pakistani student.
There have also been several high maths achievers who have participated and received medals in such events as the Maths Olympiad Contest, but we cannot measure our overall standing on a larger scale.
It would be valuable to know where we stand globally. How does Pakistan’s Maths and Science curriculum, the students, the teachers (it takes a team effort to achieve world standards) measure up? Can we compete internationally? Are we above average? Are we doing okay or do we have to improve?