Diploma of excellence

OECD Observer

The head of OECD’s education indicators, Andreas Schleicher, took what looked like a poor report card for Germany’s educational system and ended up receiving an award for himself, from none other than the Germans. In April he received for this achievement the prestigious Theodor Heuss award, named after the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mr Schleicher co-ordinates the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a three-year survey of the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds. It assesses student performance in reading and mathematical and scientific literary, and analyses the factors that promote success in education, best preparing young people for full participation in society. Of the 32 countries surveyed in 2000, Germany had one of the largest gaps between the highest and lowest-performing students, and showed below the OECD average. PISA has been hotly debated in Germany since the results came out last year, not least in the media.

But, as Mr Schleicher pointed out: “The aim of the study is not to compare whether countries are performing better or worse than others, but rather to indicate where educational systems can be improved, how to move forward; and Germany has taken this seriously.”

The award is for “exemplary democratic behaviour”, and was presented to Mr Schleicher for his role in re-orienting a partisan and ideological debate about the German PISA results towards a strategic discussion of education policy.

Other recipients of the award include statesman Vaclav Havel, social philosopher Juergen Habermass, author Günter Grass and Peter Eiger, chairman of Transparency International.

©OECD Observer No 237, May 2003

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