News > OECD survey gives Japan top marks for 'adult skills' in literacy, numeracy

OECD survey gives Japan top marks for 'adult skills' in literacy, numeracy

    A new international survey of "adult skills" placed Japan at the top of 24 countries and regions in literacy and  numeracy, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Oct. 8.

    Education ministry officials attributed the results to an excellence in pedagogical functions of Japan's society, including at schools and workplaces. "Compulsory education in Japan emphasizes basic skills that are required in life," a ministry official said. "That matched the components that the OECD defines as 'adult skills.'"

    The Survey of Adult Skills, which is a product of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), is designed to measure proficiencies in skills that are required in social life. It was conducted for the first time in 2011-2012.

      About 157,000 people aged between 16 and 65, selected randomly in 22 OECD member countries and sub-national regions, as well as two non-OECD countries, took part in the survey. The respondents, including 5,173 from Japan, were asked to answer 20 to 46 questions, depending on their skills, in one or two of three assessment domains: literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

    Japan ranked the highest in literacy, earning a national average of 296 score points on a scale of 500, compared with an average of 273 score points across the 22 OECD countries and sub-national regions surveyed. Japan also topped numeracy with an average score of 288, against an OECD average of 269 points.

   However, Japan did not perform as well in problem solving in technology-rich environments. It ranked 10th, with only 35 percent of participants scoring more than 291 points out of 500.

   The relatively lackluster performance in this assessment domain is partly due to the fact that 37 percent of all subjects in Japan, as opposed to an OECD average of 24 percent, opted to take a paper-based survey instead of a computer-based one, education ministry officials said.

   An independent study by Japan's education ministry that focused on the subjects who took a computer-based survey ranked Japan at the top with 294 score points, compared with an OECD average of 283 points.


Source : The Asahi Shimbun