Swiss school system ranked among the 10 best in the world by PISA study

Swiss school system ranked among the 10 best in the world by PISA study

Despite a falling score, schools in Switzerland have been rated among some of the world’s best by the latest international PISA study. Swiss students are no longer as proficient in maths and reading, although scores attained in the sciences have improved.

Student scores fall (almost) worldwide, PISA study finds

Since 2001, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) has ranked school systems around the world through the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). This year, around 700.000 15-year-old students from 81 countries around the world had their maths, reading and science skills put to the test, to see how proficient each school system is.

In the latest study, the OECD noted that grades in all subjects have experienced a major slump since the last report. All regions bar Asia saw scores in the ranking fall, with grades falling fastest in the Polish, Norwegian, Icelandic and German school systems

When it comes to maths, the study found that students have lost an average of three-quarters of a year's worth of learning, continuing a trend which began in 2009 but has continued unabated since. Reading scores have also fallen by the equivalent of half a year of learning.

School system in Switzerland rated eighth best in world

Despite a worse score, Switzerland broke into the top 10 for 2022. The Swiss school system placed eighth in the world and second in Europe with an average weighted score of 508 - 67 points off Singapore in first place. Experts explained that while Swiss students performed worse in both maths and reading, the decline was not as severe as what was felt in other countries on the list.

In maths, for example, the alpine nation scored 508 points, seven below the score from 2018. However, even with this poorer performance, the decline in score was more slight than the OECD average, which fell by 12 points. The total places Switzerland eighth in the world for mathematical skills. 

For reading, Switzerland recorded a one-point decline compared to 2018, scoring 483 points and ranking 19th in the world. While reading remains Switzerland's weakest link out of the three categories, the country managed to avoid the +20 point declines in scores recorded in other countries like Germany. Finally, Swiss scores in science improved from 495 in 2018 to 503 in 2022, placing the country 13th in the world.

Swiss schools and students responded well to COVID pandemic

Based on surveys conducted by PISA, one of the factors that could explain Switzerland’s good performance in 2022 might be students’ experiences during the COVID pandemic and subsequent closures and remote learning. 24 percent of Swiss students reported that their school was closed for more than three months during COVID, less the half the OECD average (51 percent), while fewer pupils in Swiss cities and cantons reported having problems with remote learning.

Finally, the study found that while the country performed well overall, there is still plenty to work on. 19 percent of 15-year-old Swiss students failed to achieve the base level grade for maths and sciences - below the OECD average but still a significant proportion. For reading, this rate increased to 25 percent.

10 best school systems in the world

In all, here are the 10 nations with the best school systems in the world, according to the PISA study:

  1. Singapore (575)
  2. Macau (552)
  3. Taipei (547)
  4. Hong Kong (540)
  5. Japan (536)
  6. South Korea (527)
  7. Estonia (510)
  8. Switzerland (508)
  9. Canada (497)
  10. The Netherlands (493)

For more information about the study, check out the OECD website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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