On 13 March 2014, Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, held a meeting with students of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. After delivering a speech the PM took questions from the audience. One of the questions put forward by the students concerned the problems related to the quality of education in regional secondary schools of Georgia. Responding to the question, the Prime Minister asserted that the Government is developing educational programmes which will be made available to everyone. Gharibashvili further clarified that Georgia was granted a total of 140 million in the framework of the Millennium Challenge Fund which would be employed for the development of the education field; specifically, for the strengthening of higher educational establishments and technical schools of Georgia, including those operating in the regions of the country. The PM also noted: “If I am not mistaken, according to the surveys published in 2010, Georgia ranked last in Europe by the level of education. This is a truly shameful result for us.”

FactCheck

inquired about the said survey in which Georgia allegedly came last by the level of education among European countries and studied the document.

In his statement Irakli Gharibashvili was referring to the survey which was published in 2011 by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), entitled PISA (

Programme for International Student Assessment). PISA is an international comparative survey of the knowledge and skills in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy for 15-year-olds.

As clarified in the research, PISA seeks to measure how well young adults have acquired the knowledge and skills that are required to function as successful members of society. The survey also serves as a certain guide to the governments of the participating countries aiding them to craft the policies which will improve the existing educational outcomes making the system more efficient. PISA is a regular, ongoing series of assessments that are administered in participating countries every three years.

The reporting of the findings from PISA focuses on issues such as: How well prepared are young adults to meet the challenges of the future? Can they analyse, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? What skills do they possess that will facilitate their capacity to adapt to rapid societal change? How equitable is the provision of education within a country or across countries?, and so forth.

Originally, in 2009, 64 countries participated in the PISA survey whereas later, a further ten states joined in; among those, including Georgia as well. Unlike the original 64, in those ten countries the survey was conducted in 2010, instead of 2009, and its findings were published in the form of a final report in 2011.

The PISA survey involved testing just over 46,000 students across the ten participant countries. Georgia’s results in the testing designed to assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds are discussed in more detail below.

  • Reading literacy, which assesses an individual’s capacity to understand, use, reflect upon and engage with written texts, was measured by 374 points in Georgia, placing the country in the eighth position from the end, among the 74 surveyed countries, and in one category with such countries as Qatar, Peru and Panama. In Georgia, only 38% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline. Accordingly, the majority of Georgian students does not satisfy the basic requirements.
  • In terms of mathematical literacy, Georgia’s students attained a mean score of 379 ranking the country tenth from the end among the 74 participating countries. This mean score is slightly above the indicators observed in Albania, Tunisia, Indonesia, Qatar, Peru, Panama and several others. In line with the research, only 31% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level. It is of note that in Georgia, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
  • On the scientific literacy scale, Georgian students were given a mean score of 373 which places the country in the fifth position from the end. In agreement with the findings, 34% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level. There was a statistically significant gender difference of 19 score points in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

A clearer illustration of the PISA survey’s assessment of the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy of Georgian 15-year-olds is presented in the graph below.

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Discussing the outcomes of the survey Irakli Gharibashvili focused upon the results of the European countries whose scores are given in the table below.

Survey Outcomes in Europe

#

Country

Scientific Literacy

Reading Literacy

Mathematical Literacy

1

Finland

554

536

541

2

Estonia

528

501

512

3

The Netherlands

522

508

526

4

Germany

520

497

513

5

Liechtenstein

520

499

536

6

Switzerland

517

501

534

7

Great Britain

514

494

492

8

Slovenia

512

483

501

9

Poland

508

500

495

10

Ireland

508

496

487

11

Belgium

507

506

515

12

Hungary

503

494

490

13

Norway

500

503

498

14

The Czech Republic

500

478

493

15

Denmark

499

495

503

16

France

498

496

497

17

Sweden

495

497

494

18

Latvia

494

468

482

19

Austria

494

470

496

20

Portugal

493

489

487

21

Lithuania

491

484

477

22

Slovakia

490

477

497

23

Italy

489

486

483

24

Spain

488

481

483

25

Luxembourg

484

472

489

26

Russia

478

459

468

27

Croatia

486

476

460

28

Greece

470

484

466

29

Malta

461

442

463

30

Serbia

443

442

442

31

Bulgaria

439

429

428

32

Romania

428

424

427

33

Moldova

413

388

397

34

Montenegro

401

408

403

35

Albania

391

485

377

36

Azerbaijan

373

362

431

37

Georgia

373

374

379

As can be gathered from the table, in line with the survey results, Georgia’s score in reading literacy surpasses only that of Azerbaijan by 12 points. Judging by the assessed mathematical literacy, Georgian youth outstrips solely Albania by two points.

Conclusion

Our analysis of the subject revealed that the survey which Irakli Gharibashvili discussed during his meeting with the students was published in 2011. The survey was conducted in 74 countries and sought to assess the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds. Over the course of the research, the skills of these youngsters were assessed in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. Results show that 62% of Georgian youth do not possess the baseline level of reading literacy, 66% are struggling with scientific skills and 69% – with mathematical skills. Considering these indicators, Georgia occupies one of the lowermost positions among the 74 participating countries.

As for the indicators of European countries in particular, which was emphasised in the statement of the PM, Georgia indeed ranks last by the reading literacy of 15-year-olds. Based upon the mathematical skills Georgia outruns Azerbaijan only by 12 points while in scientific skills Georgia surpasses Albania by two points thereby having the worst final result in Europe.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that the Prime Minister’s statement: “If I am not mistaken, according to the surveys published in 2010, Georgia ranked last in Europe by the level of education,” is TRUE.
Originally published in The Financial, issue N. 14(394)

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